Caring for Phlomis
Phlomis is a genus of about 100 species of herbaceous plants, perennials, and shrubs that belong to the mint family Lamiaceae. Phlomis are all native to the Mediterranean region and spreading east across central Asia and China. Phlomis shrubs have grayish green leaves that are slightly hairy and they are known for their whorls of yellow, white, or lilac flowers. The flowers generally consist of two-lipped corollas with calyces which are often spine-tipped. Their tall stature and interesting blooms make them great for bordering flower beds and other landscaped areas. Small species of phlomis are also useful in rock gardens. Two of the common names of phlomis include Jerusalem Sage and Lampwick Plant.
Phlomis varies depending on the specific type but generally the plants grow up to three to four feet. They can be quite useful in the winter because their tall stalks and seed heads have a sculptural quality to them. Phlomis stalks produce small seddlings which can gradually spread out over an area. They are easy to control, though. You can just pull them up and relocate them to another area if you wish. Phlomis is commonly seen in English gardens but is a great addition to any landscaping. When considering phlomis for your garden, you need to consider a few things: where to plant them, how to plant them, and how to care for them.
Where to Plant Phlomis
Phlomis will grow in areas where there is light shade but for the best results, you should plant them in a location where there is plenty of sun and where the soil has good drainage. Soil quality should be fertile with little to no sand or clay. However, some plant authorities claim that Jerusalem sage is best grown in sandy areas. When considering the overall design of your garden, you can plant phlomis next to leafed plants and grasses with purple or blue tones. The yellow whorls on the stalks of the phlomis will be nicely contrasted against them. Phlomis can be used in English gardens, succulent gardens, rock gardens, or to landscape around patios and water features.
How to Plant Phlomis
There are two ways to plant phlomis. You can either go to a nursery and buy a plant already in a container or you can start early and sow your own seeds. If you go to a nursery to buy a plomis plant already growing in a container, try to get a container between 6 inches to a gallon in size. Choose a well-lit area in your garden and dig a hole slightly larger than the container. Before you place the plant in the soil, apply a small amount of organic fertilizer in the hole. This will help the plant to take root. Next carefully remove the plant from the container and place in the hole, setting it no deeper than it was when t was still in the container. You should center the plant in the hole so that you can fill in the gap with rich soil. Lightly tap the soil into place so that it doesn’t sink too much when you water it. After you get the plant set, mulch around the plant with compost but don’t cover the plant. After all of that is done, you will want to thoroughly water the soil until it is moist. If you are planting more than one phlomis plant, you should set them between 18 inches to two feet apart. This will give them plenty of room to spread out as they grow.
The second option of planting phlomis is to sow the seeds in trays. You will want to do this about three months in advance to give them enough time to germinate. Phlomis seeds take from two to seven weeks to germinate at the ideal temperature of 40 degrees F. So if you want to plant the seedling sin the spring, you will need to sow the seeds by January. When sowing the seeds, you can use trays, pots, or inserts.
The first thing to do when sowing seeds is to use either a compost or a rich potting soil from your local nursery. Whatever type of containers you are using, you will want to fill it about three quarters full with soil. Tap the container on the bench or table a few times to make sure the soil is settled and even. Next comes adding the seeds. The number of seeds you add to each container will depend on the size of the phlomis seeds. Generally, you can add about 10 small seeds or 3 large seeds to a three inch pot. If you are using trays, you can add anywhere from 50 to 100 seeds. Adding more seeds will not increase your chances of them growing. It will just cause them to crowd one another when they start to germinate. Once the seeds are in place, fill the containers the rest of the way with soil and water them. Cover the containers with glass or plastic and place in a protected area with plenty of light but not direct sunlight.
Once the seeds germinate and the seedlings are sturdy enough to handle, you will want to transplant them to larger pots. The trick here is not to damage the roots when removing the seedlings from their original containers. Once you have them transplanted, you will want to lightly water them and give them plenty of room. Don’t over-saturate the soil or the plants will rot and die. In the late spring when they are tall enough and hardy enough, you can try planting them in the garden outside or transplant them again to even larger containers and wait a season before planting them. The additional growth time will only make them hardier.
How to Care for Phlomis
In coastal regions, phlomis does not require as much water once it is established and rooted in the ground. If the plant in being grown inland, they may require a regular watering schedule as well as some protection from the sun and heat. General care of phlomis plants is pretty easy. Plants such as Jerusalem sage will need to be watered during prolonged dry periods. The phlomis plant should be divided every three years or so during the autumn months in order to maintain vigor and to propagate if you want further plants. You can also take cuttings in the spring. Try using pruners to cut old stems back to the ground in late spring. During the spring you can apply a light fertilizer to stimulate growth. Another option is to mulch around the plants with about 3 inches of organic compost in spring. To maintain the plant’s best appearance, cut back after each flowering.