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Teucrium shrubs are often mistaken for the Texas sage

Teucrium fruiticans
Teucrium fruiticans
Joy Nord

Teucriums, commonly known as bush germanders, are rarely grown in gardens. Most are not decorative enough to merit cultivation. But, here in central Texas, due to the plant's silvery foliage in some species, they are often mistaken for the Texas sage. Numerous varieties, both hardy and tender, are natives of many temperate and warm temperate regions including North America; but they are not native to Texas. They are herbaceous perennials that belong to the Mint family Labiatae. Some species, however, are shrub and sub-shrubs. The botanical name Teucrium is ancient Greek and believed to commemorate King Teucer of Troy.

Teucriums thrive in moderately good well-drained soil. During the spring they may be increased by seeds sow in sandy soil and, during the summer, by cuttings. Herbaceous types can be propagated by division.

In central Texas, the most popular variety, Teucrium fruiticans, is native of southern Europe. It is a low, multi-branched shrub with grayish foliage and has comparatively large pale blue to lavender flowers, and suitable for growing in mild to dry climates. It also establishes well for cultivating in pots and thrives in full sun to part shade. Its mature height ranges between 4 to 6 ft. with a 4 to 6 ft. spread.

Other varieties include:

T. canadence, commonly known as Canadian germander, is a 3 ft. perennial that inhabits moist or wet soil. It has green foliage with cream to purple colored flowers and often planted in wild gardens.

T. scorodoni, known as wood sage, is a 2 ft. herbaceous perennial that has green leaves and yellow flowers. It is native to Europe and has been sparingly naturalized in eastern North America.

T. marum, known as cat thyme, resembles common thyme and attracts cats (they like to roll in it and tear it to shreds). It has red to purple flowers and grows 12 inches in height. Its white foliage has a pleasant scent. It is hardy only in mild regions and usually grown in well-drained sunny rock gardens.

T. chamaedrys, known as wall germander, has green foliage, grows only 6 inches in height and has reddish-purple flowers.

T. lucidum resembles the chamaedrys species and often grown under the same name; however, it differs from the true T. chamaedrys in having stems that are more erect, which is better adapted for forming low hedges.

T. pyrenaicum, native to Spain, has green foliage and grow between 6 to 10 inches tall and has small lavender to cream flower heads.

T. polium, a dwarf and compact plant, has whitish stems and leaves with small pale yellow flowers. It is usually used for edging in flower beds.

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