Give Now

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.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

View all posts by this author »

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Focus on Flowers:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Focus on Flowers

About The Host

Search Focus on Flowers

Focus on Flowers on Flickr