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Jerusalem Sage

December 9, 2016 Back to Picks >

I have one section of my garden that is a high-stress area for plants. It receives no shade all day, all year. Because it’s near the street corner of our property, it is exposed to frequent winds. To top it off, somehow I never quite remember to water it as much as other parts of my garden. This is where Jerusalem sage grows well. Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa) is a native of the eastern Mediterranean. It tolerates dry conditions (its listed as “hardy” in Phoenix) and poor soils. This woody-stemmed herb grows to three feet or more in full sun to part shade. It is not invasive but can look a little untidy near the end of summer. Prune as needed to preserve the shape you want. Despite its name, Jerusalem sage is not a member of the sage family of plants. It has wooly gray-green leaves and a scent reminiscent of garden sage but that?s where the resemblance ends. Jerusalem sage is taller and denser than any culinary sage I’ve seen. In late summer to early fall it produces bright yellow drooping flowers arranged in an octagonal whorl, unlike culinary sage flowers which are smaller and blue to violet. Plant this herb in the tough, dry spots in your garden. It will manage on its own just fine, providing color all summer long.