A beautiful stroke of verticality that lasts for months
Phlomis tuberosa is a perennial of the Lamiaceae (mint) family and is widespread from Eastern Europe to eastern Siberia (Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China). Its natural habitat is found in dry steppes, forest edges and rocky regions. Phlomis tuberosa has been cultivated in domestic gardens since 1759 (!) and, with its tall floral stems, is a good ornamental plant for the superb verticality it provides for months on end.
From bottom to top:
- Its root system has little spherical tubers. These are storage organs, which allow the plant to survive in difficult growing conditions, such as poor soil or summer drought.
- In the springtime, its foliage forms a wide plate of dark green, heart-shaped (cordate) leaves;
- and in late spring (from May to July depending on the region) whorls of flowers appear on tall stems about one metre in height.
The Phlomis tuberosa 'Bronze Flamingo' variety has foliage that starts off bronze and a flowering in candelabras of lilac pink blooms borne on dark red floral stems.
In the garden we like to plant them together with medium-sized grasses (Pennisetum orientale, Stipa ichu, Stipa tenuifolia) or behind round-shaped varieties (Lavandula, Santolina, Helichrysum, Artemisia 'Powis Castle').
You only need to prune them at the end of winter as the dried stems provide winter display, they are a good source of food for seed-eating birds and the dried leaves protect the plant from rain during its winter dormancy.
For a dry garden, gravel garden, rockery, dry meadow.
Grow preferably in the sun in ordinary to poor garden soil, which is well-drained in winter. Too much damp will cause the tubers to rot and the plant will suffer! The stems will start to topple over... and will then need staking!
However, it's still possible to grow Phlomis tuberosa in good, fertile, moist garden soil if you plant in on a mound and make the soil gravelly by adding some filter sand (2-5 mm).
Photo credit: Wikipedia (Le.Loup.Gris)
Phlomis tuberosa L.
Curtis's Botanical Magazine - London (1833)
Source: Missouri Botanical Garden
- 12 cm pot
- Hardiness zones : zone 7-10
- Height: 70 to 100cm
- Plant spacing: 50 cm
- Flower colour: pink
- Flowering period: summer flowers