Germander is a semishrubby perennial grown for its attractive, fragrant foliage and flowers, which might be blue, pink, purple, or white depending on species. Tolerant of pruning, germander is a favorite plant for knot gardens where it can be sculpted into serpentine shapes. It’s also easily shaped into borders or low hedges or planted in rock gardens. Not interested in sculpting this plant? Plant it among perennials, where it will add evergreen color. Or pair it with other pollinator plants for a colorful combo that attracts winged visitors.
Colors of Germander
Pair germander with plants that thrive in its preferred growing conditions. Many species of germander are native to the Mediterranean, where full sun and well-drained, sandy soils are the norm. Select plants that thrive in these conditions, such as agave, anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), artemisia, blanket flower (Gaillardia), flax (Linum perenne), lavender (Lavandula spp.), and Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).
How to Grow Germander
Plant germander in well-drained soil and full sun (which promotes vigorous growth) or part shade (which slows growth). Most germander species tolerate dry conditions, making them ideal for xeriscape gardens. One exception: American germander (Teucrium canadense), which is native to North America, grows well in poorly drained soil such as that of rain gardens.
Germander is hardy and evergreen in most regions. It is marginally hardy in some areas of Zones 5 and 6, where winter damage is common. If your germander experiences winter damage, simply prune away dead branches the following spring, and plants will produce new foliage. Protect plants susceptible to damaging cold by insulating them with a thick blanket of straw in winter.
Regarding pruning in general: The best time to prune this plant is right after flowering, because spent germander flowers give it an unkempt appearance. Pruning restores germander's structural presence in the garden. Pruning after flowering also encourages the plant to channel energy into creating new foliage. If needed, remove a few inches of green, leafy growth (along with the flower stalks) to reduce plant size. Avoid pruning plants in fall as the new growth will be susceptible to winter damage.
More Varieties of Germander
Teucrium cossonii majoricum is a low-growing groundcover just 4-6 inches tall, but it spreads 2-3 feet wide. The silver-gray foliage has a strong, fruity aroma, which is the source of its common name. It's also known as pineapple germander and Majorcan teucrium. It bears lavender-blue flowers in spring and fall with sporadic bloom throughout the summer. Zones 7-10
Teucrium chamaedrys is commonly grown in herbal knot gardens because it can be sheared to maintain a compact shape. It naturally grows 12-20 inches tall and 12-18 inches wide. The glossy green foliage is evergreen in warm regions or semi-evergreen in cold climates. The plant bears purplish-pink flowers that attract bees and butterflies in summer. Zones 5-9