Jerusalem Sage Information: How To Grow Jerusalem Sage In The Garden

Jerusalem Sage Information: How To Grow Jerusalem Sage In The Garden

By: Liz Baessler

Jerusalem sage is a shrub native to the Middle East that produces delightful yellow flowers even in drought conditions and very poor soil. It is an excellent choice for arid climates and hard to plant problem sites. Keep reading to learn more Jerusalem sage information, such as how to grow Jerusalem sage and tips for Jerusalem sage care.

Jerusalem Sage Information

What is Jerusalem sage? Jerusalem sage is a shrub that ranges natively from Turkey to Syria. Despite its name, it is actually a close relative of mint. The misnomer comes from the appearance of its leaves, which are pale green and soft, like those of a sage plant.

The shrub is evergreen in USDA zones 8-11, though it can be treated as a perennial in zones 7, 6 and, sometimes, zone 5. The growth will die back with the frost and grow back from the roots in the spring.

There are actually several species of Jerusalem sage, all of which fall under the family name Phlomis. The most popular is Phlomis fruticosa. This Jerusalem sage usually grows to a height and spread of 3-4 feet (1 m.).

In late spring and summer, it produces lots of bright yellow flowers on the upper ends of its stems. If the stems are promptly deadheaded, they will often flower a second time in the same growing season. If left on the plant, the flowers give way to attractive seed heads.

Jerusalem Sage Care

The key to growing Jerusalem sage is simulating its native Mediterranean climate. It is very tolerant of drought, and it needs extremely well-draining soil. It will appreciate fertile soil, but it also performs well in poor soil.

It can be propagated easily from seed, cuttings, or layering. It needs full sun, and will get leggy in the shade. It stands up very well to heat, and with its wide spread and bright colors is ideal for carrying over a flower garden through the hottest part of summer.

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Plants→Salvias→Jerusalem Sage (Salvia hierosolymitana)

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle:Perennial
Sun Requirements:Full Sun
Water Preferences: Dry Mesic
Minimum cold hardiness:Zone 8a -12.2 °C (10 °F) to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
Maximum recommended zone:Zone 11
Plant Height :12 - 24 inches
Plant Spread :18 inches
Flower Color:Pink
Flower Time:Spring
Other: Off and on during the growing season, but most flowering in spring and fall. Deadheading flowers ensures more flowering throughout the season.
Uses:Suitable as Annual
Wildlife Attractant:Bees
Resistances:Drought tolerant
Containers:Suitable in 3 gallon or larger
Needs excellent drainage in pots

Jerusalem Sage (Salvia hierosolymitana) was a featured
Plant of the Day for June 26, 2018.

"Salvia hierosolymitana (Jerusalem sage) is a herbaceous perennial native to the eastern Mediterranean, with populations in Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank. It typically grows in open fields, rocky soils, and among low-growing native shrubs. It was first described in 1853 by botanist Pierre Edmond Boissier, with the epithet "hierosolymitana" referring to "royal, sacred Jerusalem".

It forms a mound of basal leaves that spreads to 2 feet, and slightly less in height. The ovate mid-green leaves are evergreen, lightly covered with hairs, and with a scalloped margin, growing 8-10 inches long with prominent veining underneath. The 1 inch or smaller flowers are a wine-red color, growing in widely spaced whorls, with 2-6 flowers per whorl. The lower lip is white, with wine-red spotting. The calyces are pea-green with red veins and bracts edged in red. The square stem of the 1 foot long inflorescences are also edged in red. Unlike many salvias, there is no odor when the leaves are crushed, and there is no known medicinal use of this plant."

Mistakes to Avoid when Growing Sage

Sage (Salvia officinalis)—also known as Common Sage, Culinary Sage and Garden Sage—is a perennial evergreen shrub found widely in the Mediterranean regions of the world. It belongs to the genus Salvia, which consists of over 900 varieties of shrubs, annuals and herbaceous perennials. This plant is used for its medicinal value and essential oil and also as a flavoring and seasoning ingredient. Its medicinal properties include the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. This garden plant has gray leaves, wooden stems, and purple or blue flowers, which usually bloom in mid-summer. There are some common conditions that should be avoided while growing sage plants.

Improper transplantation

Sage plants can be transplanted using root cuttings or seeds. If seeds are used to propagate the plant, they should be sown while they are fresh. Sage plants do not grow easily with stored seeds and can establish slowly and unreliably even with fresh ones. For propagating this plant, root cuttings can be layered along the side branches so that they touch the soil.

Wet Soil

Sage needs a medium-wet soil that is well-dug and enriched with one or two handfuls of bone meal. The bone meal should be worked in at the start and end of the summer season. The soil bed should be well-drained for healthy growth of sage plants.

Inadequate Sunlight

Sage plants grow slowly until they are established. This plant requires maximum sunlight for a proper growth. A little shade is necessary if the plant is grown at higher altitudes where the exposure to the sun and hence the temperature is higher. When grown indoors, the plant should be placed near windows where it can receive direct sunlight. Sage plants are also found to grow well under fluorescent lamps.


The plant should be watered regularly. However, one must not overwater the plant, especially during summers. Sage plants tend to thrive best in a dry and sunny environment.


Sage plants, like any other garden plant, should be well spaced. Overcrowding hampers plant growth as the neighboring plants compete for nutrients.

Tips for Plant Care

Sage plants must be protected from wind and frost, and should be pruned on a regular basis. Here are some useful tips for a proper growth of sage plants:

  • Protect the plant from frost: Frost damages sage plants. The best time to plant sage is before the onslaught of frost. It is advisable to grow the plants in containers and bring them indoors during winter.
  • Pruning: The plant should be pruned periodically for a healthy growth and also to avoid growth of woody stems. The plant should be pruned to almost half its size in the summers after the flowers have fallen.
  • Protect the plant from wind: Support rods (approximately 3 feet long) should be used with the plant to avoid weak stems from being blown away by the wind.
  • Harvesting: A sage plant should be harvested yearly after its establishment in the first year. The individual leaves can be dried and stored for seasoning and flavoring. Harvesting prevents the woody overgrowth of sage plants.

Plants You Might Want To Consider

So you’ve decided to make the plunge into water reduction landscaping? Fantastic! Let’s talk plants.

Many green, vibrant plants can be used in xeriscape easily. So too can some grasses. Shrubs are also an option. Do you like flowers? There are drought-tolerant flowering plants! You don’t have to make your garden into the Grand Canyon. It can be as lush and green as you want.

Here’s a sampling of a few of the many types of plants you can incorporate easily. All these xeriscape plants are tried and tested. For now, I’ll focus on the size of the plant, but remember, planning is key. Before you begin, select your plants not only by size, but by watering frequency and light needs.

Very Short (Under 1 Foot Tall)

Ground covers, fairy gardens, and more fall into the very short category. These diminutive options can be used in many ways for visual effect. I especially like these at the front of garden beds or in lieu of lawns.

Sedum rubrotinctum, ‘Pork And Beans’

Sedum rubrotinctum. Source: mark6mauno

Typically just under a foot tall, sedum rubrotinctum is a succulent. Nicknamed the jelly bean plant or pork and beans, its leaves are roughly bean-shaped. It produces its foliage on long, thick stems. In the spring, bright yellow star-shaped flowers appear. Best in zones 9-11.

Pachysandra procumbens, ‘Allegheny Spurge’

Pachysandra procumbens. Source: tgpotterfield

Allegheny spurge is a common ground cover plant. But did you know it can be used in xeriscaping, too? While it prefers moist soil when young, it’s fairly drought-tolerant when mature. It’s a shade lover as well, making it perfect for those odd spots without consistent sunlight. Zones 5-9 preferred.

Ophiopogon japonicus, ‘Dwarf Lilyturf’

Ophiopogon japonicus. Source: Starr

Dwarf lilyturf, sometimes called fountain plant, is one of the tiniest plants on the list. Averaging at about 4″ in height, this little grass can be a ground cover or low-lying bed plant. It prefers damp soil but can take slightly-drier conditions once established. Best in zones 5-9.

Ophiopogon planiscapus, ‘Black Mondo Grass’

Ophiopogon planiscapus. Source: mwms1916

Seeking something darker? Consider black mondo grass. Like dwarf lilyturf, this lily relative develops tight, matted clumps of leaves. But in this case, the leaves are so dark in color they’re nearly black. Averages 8-12″ tall. Another great candidate for your shadier spaces! Zones 5-9.

Aloe aristata, ‘Lace Aloe’

Aloe aristata. Source: srboisvert

Also called Aristaloe aristata, this plant isn’t a true aloe. It’s more closely related to other species. But its compact 6-8″ circles of sawtoothed spikes create a beautiful globe-like shape. It looks phenomenal in a garden setting, especially when it sends up orange flowers! Grow in zones 7-11.

Erigeron karvinskianus, ‘Santa Barbara Daisy’

Erigeron karvinskianus. Source: M. Martin Vicente

Trailing foliage and constant flowers are a hallmark of the Santa Barbara daisy. This Mexico-native plant is extremely drought-tolerant. Give it a little water, and it immediately fuels an explosion of fresh growth. Short and sweet, this lovely perennial’s best in zones 6-9.

Euphorbia myrsinites, ‘Myrtle Spurge’

Euphorbia myrsinites. Source: AndreyZharkikh

This evergreen perennial’s an interesting one. 4-8″ tall, it has succulent-like leaves that layer in a tight pattern from thick, woody stems. Blue-green in color, myrtle spurge develops showy yellow bracts in the spring. Ideal in zones 5-9.

Sedum kamtschaticum, ‘Russian Stonecrop’

Sedum kamtschaticum. Source: blumenbiene

Averaging 6″ in height, this sedum groundcover is an herbaceous perennial. Beautiful green oval leaves attach to long, trailing stems. Russian stonecrop produces tiny yellow flowers during the summer months. The flowers turn to small, scarlet-red fruit in fall. In winter it loses most of its leaves. Best in zones 3-8.

Juniperus conferta, ‘Shore Juniper’

Juniperus conferta. Source: Javierahr

This evergreen coniferous shrub is a popular ground cover. Blue-green needles, just under an inch in length, extend from its woody stems. It produces seed cones which turn silverish when mature. It grows 6-12″ tall. Popular for erosion control, it thrives in zones 6-9.

Callirhoe involucrata, ‘Purple Poppy-Mallow’

Callirhoe involucrata. Source: peganum

Missouri prairies and flatlands are the home of the purple poppy-mallow. Growing 6″-12″ in height, this herbaceous perennial produces cup-shaped magenta flowers. Its deep roots give it lots of drought tolerance. Zones 4-8 are ideal for this plant.

Short (1-2 feet tall)

For bedding plants, borders, or just plain beautiful, short plants are the way to go. You can stagger different levels of plants together in a formal style. Alternately, you can choose a single-height cacophony of color and texture. The choice is up to you!

Aloe brevifolia, ‘Crocodile Aloe’

Aloe brevifolia. Source: Skolnik Collection

Another sweet little succulent, this one is a true aloe. The crocodile aloe teeters at the 12-14″ range. So named because of its toothed leaves that resemble crocodile mouths, it’s evergreen and lovely. A warm climate plant, it performs best in zones 9-11.

Salvia sonomensis, ‘Sonoma Sage’

Salvia sonomensis. Source: briweldon

Sonoma sage is one of my top choices for xeriscape gardening. It’s absolutely beautiful, especially when it’s producing its purple-blue flower spikes. Silvery-green leaves on its 12-14″ stems are lightly scented when sun-warmed. It thrives in coastal or foothill environments in zones 8-10.

Salvia chamaedryoides, ‘Germander Sage’

Salvia chamaedryoides. Source: hortulus

At its tallest, germander sage reaches 2 feet. Its grey-green leaves grow on long, straight stems in a shrublike formation. Vividly blue flowers develop on long flower spikes at least twice a year and sometimes more. A Mexico native, it grows in zones 9-10.

Oxalis triangularis, ‘False Shamrock’

Oxalis triangularis. Source: scott.zona

False shamrock is a very unusual plant. Its leaves move in response to light, folding at night and unfolding during the day. The triangular leaves can be green, pink, purple, or a mixture of the three. This unique perennial plant’s leaves are edible, too! Grows optimally in zones 8-11.

Rohdea japonica, ‘Japanese Sacred Lily’

Rohdea japonica. Source: Ashley Basil

The Japanese sacred lily, Rohdea japonica, is a fibrous-rooted plant. Long, mid-green leaves help direct rainfall towards the center of the cluster. Flower spikes bloom in a cluster of pale yellow blooms which later form red, inedible berries. This plant averages 18″ in height, and grows in zones 6-10.

Lycoris radiata, ‘Equinox Flower’

Lycoris radiata. Source: miserere7

Equinox flower, sometimes called the red spider lily, is gorgeous. They bloom after the first full rain in the fall. A bulbous perennial, the bulbs are toxic. They’re strong enough that they’re planted around rice paddies in Japan to keep pests and mice out! These grow in zones 6-10.

Eragrostis spectabilis, ‘Purple Lovegrass’

Eragrostis spectabilis. Source: treegrow

Ornamental grasses like the purple lovegrass can be used in landscaping very easily. This late summer blooming plant produces reddish-purple flowers in August. By October, the flowers fade once more. It’s a perfect candidate for a wildflower garden look! Ideal in zones 5-9.

Oenothera fruticosa, ‘Narrow-Leaved Sundrops’

Oenothera fruticosa. Source: rachelgreenbelt

Sundrops are an herbaceous perennial which are native to eastern North America. In the late spring, it produces clusters of four-petaled yellow flowers. Excellent in wild gardens or cottage gardens, they grow in zones 4-8.

Helleborus foetidus, ‘Stinking Hellebore’

Helleborus foetidus. Source: FarOutFlora

Another unusual xeriscape plant, the stinking hellebore does in fact stink. Bruised leaves can smell unfamiliar, and the flowers are a bit pungent. But as long as you aren’t beating up your plants, it’s a wonderful xeriscape option! Its flowers are greenish-white and bell-shaped, and it grows in zones 5-9.

Santolina chamaecyparissus, ‘Lavender Cotton’

Santolina chamaecyparissus. Source: brewbooks

Showy yellow flowers explode out of the mounding shrub known as the lavender cotton. A summer bloomer, it produces an astonishing number of flowers when it blossoms. The rest of the year, it’s a beautiful mound of silvery-grey foliage with a slight musky scent. Best in zones 6-9.

Moderate (3-5 feet tall)

Looking for something larger to act as a centerpiece? Or maybe you’ve just got lots of space and want to be up to your chest in garden glory? There’s options for you!

Muhlenbergia capillaris, ‘Pink Muhlygrass’

Muhlenbergia capillaris. Source: jmlwinder

Growing to heights of 2-3 feet, this ornamental muhly grass is lovely. Throughout most of the spring and summer, it is a lushly green grass. But in the fall, long inflorescences of pinkish-red flowers rise up above the grass. It looks like a cloud of cotton candy just grew in the garden! It’ll be happiest in zones 5-9.

Lobelia laxiflora, ‘Mexican Cardinal Flower’

Lobelia laxiflora. Source: sergioniebla

The Mexican cardinal flower should be more popular! Its woody, nearly 3′ stems support bright red tubular flowers until the first frost. Beneath the flowers is a swath of green lance-like leaves. Uncommon in most traditional gardens, it’s perfect for xeriscape. Heat and sun-loving, it thrives in zones 9-11.

Gaura lindheimeri, ‘Lindheimer’s Beeblossom’

Gaura lindheimeri. Source: douneika

Often referred to as gaura, this 3-5 foot shrub is a perennial. It’s a must for wildflower gardens where it can sprawl out! Its flowers bloom from August to October. They start as pink buds and turn white as flowers, gradually shifting back to pale pink. Grow this in zones 5-9.

Eryngium yuccifolium, ‘Rattlesnake Master’

Eryngium yuccifolium. Source: screwballsquirrel7415

Rattlesnake master is a strange herbaceous plant. A member of the parsley family, it produces 3-4′ long sword-like leaves. Tiny greenish-white flowers are densely packed into globe-like flower heads that resemble thistles. Common on the prairie, it grows in zones 3-8.

Dasylirion wheeleri, ‘Desert Spoon’

Dasylirion wheeleri. Source: brewbooks

A relative of the asparagus, this desert plant is called desert spoon. The name comes from the single flower stalk that it puts up each year. While the spiky plant itself can reach 4 feet, the flower stalk can reach 15′! It’s topped with thousands of white or pinkish-purple blooms and looks like a giant spoon. Grows in zones 6-10.

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium, ‘Slender Mountain Mint’

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium. Source: dogtooth77

While the name would suggest it dwells in the mountains, mountain mint doesn’t. Grown in prairies or along roads, this 2-3′ tall plant has needle-like leaves. When crushed, the leaves give off a minty aroma. White clusters of flowers bloom in mid to late summer. Does well in zones 4-8.

Phlomis fruticosa, ‘Jerusalem Sage’

Phlomis fruticosa. Source: basswulf

Jerusalem sage isn’t a true sage, but its leaves look like sage! Through the summer, round clusters of bright yellow flowers emerge from the stems. This mounding perennial can reach 4′ tall, and remains evergreen in zones 8-10.

Salvia guaranitica, ‘Anise-Scented Sage’

Salvia guaranitica. Source: peganum

As an annual, anise-scented sage grows to about 3′ tall. Grown as a perennial, it can reach 5′, sometimes even larger. It produces vivid, dark blue tubular flowers from midsummer into the autumn. The foliage is dark green. Alas, it isn’t very anise-scented when bruised. But it’s beautiful, and grows in zones 8-10.

Agave ovatifolia, ‘Whale’s Tongue Agave’

Agave ovatifolia. Source: scott.zona

When people think of succulents, they think of plants that are anywhere from a couple inches to a foot. Whale’s tongue agave is far bigger than that. These can hit 4′ tall and about 6′ across, and their flower spike can tower to 15′! This powerful accent plant can be grown in zones 7-11.

Tall (5+ feet tall)

From small palm trees to large coneflowers, there’s some tall choices available. You can go vertical along your fenceline with ease!

Rudbeckia maxima, ‘Large Coneflower’

Rudbeckia maxima. Source: nelag

Paddle shaped leaves up to 24″ in length, a flower stalk that can reach seven feet… and it flowers, too! The large coneflower produces huge yellow flowers with a dark brown central cone. A flashy centerpiece for your xeriscape garden, it’ll grow in zones 4-9.

Coreopsis tripteris, ‘Tickseed’

Coreopsis tripteris. Source: HorsePunchKid

Another prairie plant, the tall tickseed can range between 4-8′ in height. Its yellow, daisy-like flowers bloom from mid-summer well into the fall. In moist soils, it tends to sprawl, but in drier soils will fare well. It could use some support in windy regions. Ideal in zones 3-8.

Romneya coulteri, ‘California Tree Poppy’

Romneya coulteri. Source: Kerry D Woods

The California Tree Poppy is a true California native. Growing nearly eight feet in height, it can spread via rhizomes over huge areas. It’s been rumored that they’ll grow under your house and come out on the other side! These plants produce open, airy and large white flowers. They lose their leaves in the summer and fall, but come back again in the spring. Best in zones 8-10.

Dioon edule, ‘Virgin’s Palm’

Dioon edule. Source: Tom Mushroom

Want something that looks like it belongs in a tropical paradise? The Virgin’s Palm meets your criteria perfectly. This slow-growing cycad can reach 8′ tall in time. It likes full sun or partial shade, and makes for a wonderful accent plant. Subtropical, it prefers zones 9-11.

Very Tall (Over 10 feet tall)

Staggeringly tall, the yucca is a mainstay of the desert. And while you don’t have to have red rocks and cacti everywhere, you can still use these immense plants. Here’s a couple examples for you to check out!

Yucca rostrata, ‘Beaked Yucca’

Yucca aloifolia. Source: Futureman1

The beaked yucca looks like a fuzzy tree from a distance. Up close, you can see its round, spiky top holds thousands of 2′ long slender leaves. The fuzzy-looking trunk is actually covered with older leaves that have collapsed downward. If you want an unusual “tree” that looks like it came straight out of wonderland, choose this! It can be grown in zones 5-11.

Yucca aloifolia, ‘Spanish Dagger’

Yucca aloifolia. Source: gertjanvannoord

Reaching up to 12-15′ in height, Spanish dagger is aptly named. Two-foot leaf spikes with sharp serrations along them clamber up its trunk. Settlers used to make rope from the leaf fibers. Its flowers form in clusters that can reach 2′ in length, and they are reputed to be edible. Birds love the fruit that forms from the spent blooms. Grows in zones 8-10.

Now, this is just the beginning. There’s hundreds of other xeriscape plants that exist out there. I’ve only provided a small sampling of the diversity that exists. These plants can all survive in low to no water conditions. They range from weedy to shrubs, leafy to treelike, and everything between. There’s tons of flower potential to dazzle the senses, too.

So don’t poo-poo the water conservation gardens! With a little preparation, you too can have the lush landscape you’ve been dreaming of… all while dropping the water bill.

Watch the video: Phlomis fruticosa - Jerusalem Sage