Teucriums - there is one for your garden

One thing that can be said about the world of plants: We will never learn or grow them all. Teucrium is an example of a genus that is rarely seen, yet deserves to be in more gardens.

There are hundreds of Teucriums that originate from the poor, rocky soils of Spain and the Mediterranean. They are long lived, broadleaf evergreen perennials that tolerate extreme heat in zones 5 to 9. Members of the mint family, Lamiaceae, they are related to lavender and salvia. All are rabbit and deer resistant.

Most varieties range in height from 4-inches to 14-inches, making them ideal for a flowerbed border. At one time they were called a poor man’s boxwood because they resemble boxwood and grow more quickly to full height.

Teucrium remains short and easy to control with pruning so it is used to for the edges of knot and herb gardens.

Teucriums like sun and unfertilized, well-drained soil. In USDA zone 5 and north, they need winter protection in order to prevent die back.

One of the best known varieties, Wall germander, T. chamaedrys, is shrubby and woody, with shiny, oval leaves less than an inch across. It gets its Latin name from the oak leaf shape and stems that spread to 2-feet wide. Loose flower spikes of two-lipped, white, pink or purple, flowers.
Teucrium chamaedrys
Wall germander, also called Wood sage, can easily be started from seeds or cuttings. Since it blooms spring and summer, it is usually planted in the spring or fall. Growers report few insect or disease problems. When the flowers fade, it has to be pruned to keep a tidy appearance.

T. fruiticans, bush Germander, Blue or Fruity germander, grows 6-feet tall with aromatic, silver/white leaves and pink to purple flowers. Azureum has blue flowers. T. Cossonii or majoricum grows into a 5-inch mound with small heads of rose flowers.

Cat Thyme or Teucrium Marum, causes cats to roll around in ecstasy. The Plant Delights catalog calls it Kitty Crack (www.plantdelights.com/Teucrium/products/362).

Teucrium marum is compact and shrubby, growing, 2-feet tall and wide with white stems and pink summer flowers. It is recommended that you grow it in pots out of your cat’s reach until the plant is strong enough to take the activity. From the Mediterranean, T. marum prefers sun, little water and gritty soil, so when planting, add sand or calcium grit used for chickens.

Gray Creeping Germander, Teucrium aroanium, is an aromatic, blooming groundcover, similar to Mother of Thyme that grows only 3-inches tall. It would be wonderful under and around lavender. Available from www.mountainvalleygrowers.com.

Silver Germander, Teucrium lucidrys, is offered by Forest Farm (www.forestfarm.com) for zone 7 to 10 gardens. It grows to a foot tall, with silvery leaves and pink-lavender flower spikes.
American Germander, Teucrium canadense, is a perennial that grows 3-feet tall, with mint family square stems and 5-inch leaves. It spreads by rhizomes underground and forms colonies. American Germander likes part sun and moist ground. It can suffer from powdery mildew. The flowers are popular with bees.

Mary Ann King at Pine Ridge Gardens (www.pineridgegardens.com) will have Germander plants available. King said the native variety spreads to seek sun if it is planted in shade.

Teucrium canadense
Canary Island Teucrium heterophyllum ssp. Brevipilosum, has silver leaves and flowers that start out red-orange and mature to blood red. Seeds available from www.rareplants.de.

Wood sage, or Teucrium Scorodonia, has scented leaves and a spike of yellow-cream flowers in the summer.

Teucrium hircanicum, Purple Tails, has summertime spikes of red-purple flowers on 2-foot tall, red-purple stems. My Purple Tails seeds just arrived today!
 The great west coast grower Forest Farm offers Purple Tails plants at the link!
Teucriums are easy care, heat tolerant, summer blooming, perennials. Give them well-drained, gritty soil and do not fertilize.


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