Learn How To Grow Jerusalem Sage

Commonly called the Jerusalem sage, Phlomis fruticosa [FLOW-miss, froo-tih-KOH-suh] is a flowering plant in the sage (Lamiaceae) family. 

It’s a small shrub with evergreen foliage and attractive yellow flowers.

The Jerusalem sage is native to parts of the Mediterranean region, including Greece, Italy, Cyprus, and Albania. 

Flowers Jerusalem sage Phlomis fruticosaPin

It’s also become a popular ornamental plant and naturalized in England.

Phlomis fruticosa shares its common name with another plant. 

Salvia hierosolymitana is also often called the Jerusalem sage and native to the same regions.

Jerusalem Sage Care

Size and Growth

The Jerusalem sage is a small shrub. 

It reaches up to 3′ feet tall and 5′ feet wide. 

The plant spreads quickly and self-seeds but isn’t considered invasive. 

The leaves are 2″ to 4″ inches long, oval, and wrinkly. 

The tops of the leaves are grey-green while the undersides are white. 

The leaves are also covered in fine hairs and produce a pleasant aroma.

Flowering and Fragrance

The tubular flowers appear in spherical clusters on the upper half of the stems. 

The bloom starts at the beginning of summer and lasts through August.

If the stems are cut back after flowering, the plant may bloom a second time before the end of fall.

Light and Temperature

Plant the Jerusalem sage in an area with full sun or partial shade when grown outdoors.

It’s winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 6 to 7. 

The foliage may die out during the winter in freezing conditions, but the roots typically survive.

In USDA hardiness zones 8 to 10, the plant remains evergreen throughout the winter. 

Watering and Feeding

The Jerusalem sage is a low maintenance plant requiring infrequent watering. 

Only water when the upper soil is completely dry.

Use liquid fertilizer during the growing season. 

While fertilizer isn’t required, it’s a useful tool for promoting healthier foliage and flowers.

Soil and Transplanting

Plant in well-drained soil. 

Use fertile soil with lots of organic matter. 

TIP: To improve poor garden soil, add humus or peat moss and mix in some coffee grounds

Transplant container plants each year to refresh the soil. 

Grooming

Remove faded flowers to extend the bloom. 

The plant may continually produce new blooms throughout the warmer months when dead flowers are promptly removed.

No other grooming is necessary.

How to Propagate Phlomis Fruticosa

Propagate by cuttings, seed, or division. 

  • Sow seeds in the late spring. 
  • Use fertile soil in planter trays or small pots. 
  • Press the seeds into the soil and cover with a light layer. 
  • Keep the seeds at 65° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C). 
  • They take up to 60 days to germinate. 
  • Wait until the seedlings appear and start producing new growth before transplanting.
  • If sowing directly in the ground, wait until the danger of frost has passed. 
  • Space the seeds at least 24″ inches apart.

Take softwood cuttings from the plant in the summer. 

  • Look for a healthy branch with soft, woody growth.
  • Cut the branch using sharp shears. 
  • Remove the lower sets of leaves from the cutting while leaving one set at the top. 
  • Dip the end of the cut branch in the rooting hormone. 
  • Prepare a flowerpot or spot in the soil for the cutting. 
  • Press a hole several inches deep in the soil.
  • Press the cutting into the hole and carefully pack the soil.
  • Keep the cutting moist, and it should take root within several weeks. 
  • Wait until new growth appears before transplanting outdoors or to larger pots.

If propagating by division, divide the plants in the spring. 

  • Dividing early in the year ensures the divided plants can establish their roots before the end of the year.
  • Loosen the soil around the plant using a shovel. 
  • Dig about 10″ inches deep before trying to pull the Jerusalem sage from the ground.
  • Remove excess dirt from the root ball and place it on its side. 
  • Examine the sections of the root system to detect runners.
  • Use sharp gardening shears to cut the runners from the main root ball, separating the plant into three or four sections.
  • Plant the divided plants in individual holes in the ground. 
  • Ensure the plants receive ample sunlight and moisture.

Phlomis Fruticosa Pest or Disease Problems

Phlomis fruticosa is mostly pest and disease-free. 

It’s also not considered toxic or invasive. 

The only common issue is the presence of leafhoppers. 

These insects suck sap from the tree, eventually causing permanent damage to the plant.

Remove leafhopper nymphs before they become adults using strong sprays of water from a garden hose. 

The water should knock the young nymphs from the leaves.

To remove an infestation of adult leafhoppers, try a commercial pest control product.

It’s also possible to deter leafhoppers from climbing on the plant using predatory insects. 

Introduce ladybugs or lacewings to the Jerusalem sage to keep leafhoppers away.

Suggested Jerusalem Sage Uses

Phlomis fruticosa is commonly planted along borders or behind shorter plants in a garden. 

It will also grow as a houseplant but requires repotting each year.