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Flowers and Plants
Attracting Birds and Butterflies
Great Design Plant: Iranian Wood Sage
Architecturally spiky yet soft in a breeze, this heat-tolerant plant brings on the butterflies and gives gardens a delicious scent
Summer is here and the heat is on, with the sweet scents of the garden permeating the air. Iranian wood sage (Teucrium hircanicum) is among the summer bloomers infusing landscapes with its deliciousness — both visually and aromatically. Iranian wood sage is a sun- and heat-loving perennial that is easy on water use and easy on the eyes, and will keep you seeing magenta from June until September.
Botanical name: Teucrium hircanicum (syn. Teucrium hyrcanicum)
Common names: Iranian wood sage, Caucasian Germander
USDA zones: 6 to 10 (find your zone)
Water requirement: Moderate
Light requirement: Full sun
Mature size: 18 to 24 inches tall; 12 to 18 inches wide
Benefits and tolerances: Flowers attract butterflies and bees; heat and drought tolerant
Seasonal interest: Summer flowers
When to plant: Plant seedlings in spring or fall; self-sows profusely
Here we see Iranian wood sage in a raised planter design by Piet Oudolf, alongside Sea Holly (Eryngium spp) — both favorites of the beautifully untamed bouquet or garden.
Distinguishing traits. Distinct magenta spikes emerge in late spring and continue to bloom throughout summer and into fall. Projecting above mounding leaves, they are the first features of the plant to catch the eye. But let's not forget about the foliage. Fuzzy, green sage-like leaves emit a rich fragrance that is enhanced by heat and sun exposure. The evergreen leaves are vibrant yet act as a suitable backdrop to the floral spectacle that characterizes the plant.
How to use it. When planted en masse these plants create a billowy sea of pink and green. Architectural yet soft, they blow nicely in the wind and produce the perfect "undesigned" garden effect. Iranian wood sage grows well in containers and provides profile diversity for a dynamic design. Line a path or fill a rock garden.
Planting notes. Plant Iranian wood sage in full sun — partial afternoon shade will be a benefit in extremely hot climates. While it can grow in soil conditions that range from rocky to average or even somewhat moist, be sure the soil is quick draining. This plant suffers if overwatered.
Enrich the soil with organic material before planting in spring. This plant doesn't require too much upkeep or supervision once it's established. You can expect to see blooms even the first year.
More: Great design flowers and plants, grasses and trees.
Ideabook published on July 2, 2012.
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