February 8
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Plant Genus of the family Lamiaceae

Genus Description Cultivation
Lavandula The 28 species of evergreen aromatic shrubs in this genus are distributed from northern Africa and the Mediterranean to western Asia, India and the Canary and Cape Verde Islands. Their natural habitat is dry and exposed rocky areas. They are part of the large mint family that includes herbs such as sage and rosemary. The narrow leaves are usually grayish green and are pinnately divided in some species. The spikes of small purple flowers vary in their intensity of color and perfume. CULTIVATION: Lavenders are excellent for hot dry sites, containers, hedging and positions where they can be brushed against to release their aroma. They grow in a wide range of soils which must be well-drained, particularly in winter. Cultivated species belong to 3 groups: the hardy Spica (?English lavender?) Group, which produces the best oil; the slightly tender Stoechas Group, with fatter flower spikes topped by petal-like bracts; and the tender Pterostoechas Group, with divided leaves and flowers that lack the true lavender fragrance. The latter group are conservatory plants in cool-temperate climates; the Stoechas Group can also be grown in this way or with the protection of a warm wall. In warm areas the Stoechas lavenders are seldom without flower and should be pruned in summer. Hardy species are pruned after flowering. All species can be propagated from seed and, while this is the best method for the Pterostoechas Group, results may be variable with other species. Lavenders are more usually propagated from tip cuttings in spring or half-hardened cuttings in autumn.
Phlomis This is a genus of about 100 low-growing shrubs, subshrubs and herbs in the nettle family, widely distributed through Europe and Asia from the Mediterranean to China. Most have felted leaves and tubular flowers, borne in whorls along the stems. The flowers have 2 lips at the tip, the upper lip being hooded over the lower one; they may be yellow, cream, pink, mauve or purple in color. CULTIVATION: Most species are quite frost hardy and are best planted in exposed sunny positions where the felted leaves can dry out quickly after rain. They are drought tolerant, to the point where they generally resent too much water in summer. Propagation is from seed or from tip cuttings of non-flowering shoots.
Salvia This genus, the largest in the mint family, contains about 900 species of annuals, perennials and softwooded evergreen shrubs that are found in temperate and subtropical regions throughout the world, with the exception of Australasia. They grow in a wide range of habitats, from coastal to alpine. Over half the species are native to the Americas. A number of salvia species are used for culinary and medicinal purposes, the name being derived from the Latin salvare, to heal or save. The leaves are always opposite and carried on squared stems, but there are considerable differences in size and shape. Most species are hairy to a greater or lesser extent and many have foliage that is aromatic when crushed or rubbed. The flowers are tubular with the petals split into 2 lips, which may be straight or flaring. The flowers vary greatly in size, as does the calyx from which they emerge. The color range extends through shades of blue to purple, and pink to red, as well as white and some yellows. CULTIVATION: The shrubby sages grow in a range of soil types but generally dislike heavy wet soils. Most are best grown in full sun and all require a well-drained situation. While many are tolerant of considerable dryness, most benefit from an occasional deep watering. The African, and most American, species are frost tender to varying degrees and in cold-temperate climates will require the protection of a sunny wall or will need to be grown in containers that can be placed in the greenhouse or conservatory in the colder months. Many of the perennial species are woody at the base and in warm climates can become quite shrub-like. Prune in spring to remove straggly, bare and frost-damaged stems and cut back other stems as required to encourage vigorous new growth. Propagation of most shrubby species is very easy from softwood cuttings taken throughout the growing season. Seed of all species can be sown in spring.
Sideritis This Mediterranean genus, also occurring on the Canary Islands and other nearby islands in the Atlantic Ocean, is composed of around 100 species of annuals, perennials, subshrubs and shrubs. They have downy stems and leaves, and whorls of tubular to bell-shaped flowers in terminal spikes with leafy bracts at their base. The leaves are usually a pointed oval in shape, with a heart-shaped base, and may be smooth-edged or irregularly toothed or notched. CULTIVATION: These plants are easily grown in any reasonably fertile, light, well-drained soil in full sun or morning shade. They tolerate light frosts but prefer dry winters because prolonged wet and cold conditions can cause the downy leaves to rot. Other than a little tidying, trimming is seldom necessary. Propagate from seed or half-hardened tip cuttings of non-flowering stems.
Teucrium Members of this genus of about 100 species of herbs, shrubs and subshrubs in the mint family occur in warm-temperate regions, particularly around the Mediterranean. The shrubs of the genus are attractive and often colorful flowering plants. All have characteristic squarish stems, opposite leaves and 2-lipped flowers in whorls. CULTIVATION: Requiring a sunny position and well-drained soil, they will tolerate the dry heat of the inland but do best in coastal areas. A light pruning of the ends of the branchlets to remove spent inflorescences and stimulate lateral growth should be carried out immediately after the summer flowering period. Propagation is best from firm tip cuttings taken in summer.
Trichostema This North American genus of 16 species of aromatic annuals and small shrubs is a member of the mint family. They have simple leaves and bear blue or occasionally pink or white flowers that resemble those of the related Salvia genus. CULTIVATION: The shrubby species should be grown in a well-drained soil of medium fertility. In cool climates they are best overwintered in the greenhouse. Propagation is from seed sown in spring or half-hardened cuttings in autumn.

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