Give Now  »

Indiana Public Media | WFIU - NPR | WTIU - PBS

Noon Edition

Bethlehem Sage

Pulmonaria saccharata. (Jan Sølve Borlaug/Wikipedia Commons)

Pulmonaria is a perennial with especially interesting foliage. Common names are lungwort and Bethlehem Sage, and they are hardy in zones 2-8.

This plant is a star in the shade garden, used either as a low-growing focal point or as an edger. It has coarse silver-splashed, elongated leaves that deer avoid, probably because of the hairy foliage, but the silver markings light up a shade bed. Its trumpet-shaped flowers with colors that are blue, white, pink, or raspberry bloom each spring. There is an 8-inch tall cultivar ‘Baby Blue' with flowers that at first are pink but then turn blue.

Pulmonarias need moist but well-drained soil to withstand summer heat.

The one problem with these plants is susceptibility to powdery mildew. The cultivars that I have mentioned today are resistant. However, this disease will not kill lungworts and some actually goes unnoticed, especially when cultivars have a lot of silver on their leaves. For instance, two taller Pulmonarias-‘Silver Streamers' and ‘Cotton Cool'-have upright leaves that are almost completely silver rather than having just silver splotches. They are not mildew resistant, but the mildew is not noticeable at all.

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Focus on Flowers