Phlomis x ‘Edward Bowles’
Phlomis fruticosa x Phlomis russeliana
Phlomis fruticosa L. is the accepted scientific name for one possible parent of Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’. The genus AND species were named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
Phlomis russeliana (Sims) Lag. ex Benth. is the accepted scientific name for the other possible parent. It was named as such by Mariano Lagasca y Segura and George Bentham in Labiatarum Genera et Species in 1834. It was first named Phlomis lunariifolia var. russeliana by John Sims in Botanical Magazine in 1825. This species is commonly known as the Turkish Sage.
As of 12-30-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 93 species in the Phlomis genus. It is a member of the plant family Lamiaceae with 232 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
THERE ARE A FEW LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING.
I bought my Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ from an Ebay seller (along with several other plants) in the spring of 2013. Dad said I could do what I wanted on the farm but I am not sure if he quite understood what he was saying. One of the first beds I dug was along the south side of the house. I amended the soil with the “Good Stuff” which was composted cow manure and hay from where the cows were fed over the winter the previous year (s). I had no experience with any species of Phlomis before, so I was looking forward to growing this plant.
Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ was named after Edward Agustus Bowles of Myddleton House at Bulls Cross near Enfield in Middlesex, England. Reportedly, Mr. Bowles sent seeds of this plant from his garden to Hiller’s Nursery in England in 1965. They released it to the public, in his honor, in 1967. Ummm… Mr. Bowles passed away in 1954 so how could he have sent seeds of this plant to Hiller’s in 1965? Maybe the curators of Myddleton House sent the seeds to Hiller’s…
I don’t think I have ever had a “favorite” plant although there are many I really like. Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ would be close to the top of the list if I had one. Alphabetically, it is close to the bottom though.
Right off the bat, I liked the somewhat fuzzy lance-shaped leaves and its growth habit.
Origin: Hybrid from England.
*Zones: USDA Zones 5a-10b (-20 to 35° F).
Size: 24-36” or more tall and wide.
Light: Sun to part shade.
Water: Average water needs, drought tolerant once established.
*Dave’s Garden says Phlomis Edward Bowles’ is cold hardy in USDA zones 5a-10b. Other websites say 7 or above. We are in 6a so I guess we are on the “iffy” side. It all depends on the winter which varies greatly from one year to the next.
I take a lot of photos of my plants to show how well they perform during the season. I still have this plant, so there are A LOT of photos…
It isn’t known for sure, but it appears that Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ is a hybrid between Phlomis fruticosa and Phlomis russeliana. The leaves resemble the Jerusalem Sage Phlomis fruticosa while the flowers resemble Phlomis russeliana (although ‘Edward Bowles flowers are paler and later). The leaves of Phlomis russeliana are also kind of gray.
Species of the Phlomis genus readily hybridize in the wild making it somewhat difficult to make proper identification.
The south bed already had two Crape Myrtle and a patch of red Cannas in the middle. I had placed the Phlomis between the Cannas and the Crape Myrtle on the right side of the bed. Little did I know at the time, the Cannas grew to over 8′ tall and the Crape Myrtle over 6′ tall and wide. I knew I had to move the Phlomis the next spring… I left the seed pods on in case it would self-sow.
We made it through our first winter and I moved the Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ to the southwest corner where it still is. It does very well in this spot.
Even though it did very well in 2014, it didn’t flower. This plant is definitely one of the last to come up in the spring.
Although most Phlomis species are a hardy bunch, I always worry about this plant in the winter. It is said that Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ and P. fruticosa can be damaged by hard winters and late frosts. Their stems should NOT be cut back until May. I usually don’t cut the old stems off until I see new growth.
I am running out of words so you’ll just have to enjoy the photos for the most part…
There were no flowers again in 2015…
The Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ is a very impressive looking plant.
FINALLY, WE HAVE FLOWERS AGAIN! I read that bumblebees are the only insect that can pollinate Phlomis species…
Flowers or not, it is OK. Those AWESOME leaves make the plant with or without flowers!
It is recommended by some that seed heads should be kept on as long as possible, even waiting until new flowers can be seen. I am not sure I really understand that, though…
Apparently, you are also supposed to leave the old seed pods on the plant. Unlike many perennials where the seed pods open or hang allowing the seeds to fall out, the Phlomis stay upright. I need to take better photos of the seed pods to explain… When the flowers fall off the seeds stay inside the pod. Each flower can produce four seeds. One post I read said the seed heads form “pepper pots”… It said you should sow Phlomis seeds from February through June or September and October. Umm, it can take up to four months for the seed to germinate. It also said the seed can provide food for birds during the winter. Umm, that isn’t going to happen here because my Phlomis will be covered up. Also, since ‘Edward Bowles’ is presumably a hybrid, the seeds are probably sterile anyway.
Temps are getting cooler and most of the plants have pretty much crapped out. The Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ is still going strong…
Even though we had several “F’s”, this plant is growing…
Normally, I covered the Phlomis with a huge flower pot full of leaves over the winter but I didn’t do that the past winter. I knew it was late coming to life in the spring, but I had begun to wonder. On May 5 as I was pulling up chickweed, I saw signs of life! 🙂
As the days went by, more leaves started growing…
Harvey always followed me around everywhere I went. He was an Old English Game Bantam that was the smallest of three roosters. He became the target for the bigger one, so I put him in his own coop. Every morning I let him out and shut his coop every afternoon about 6 PM. We have raccoons and foxes. Well, one night I forgot to shut his door and he was gone the next morning…
The flower pot behind the Phlomis is what I normally cover it up with during the winter.
WHAT AWESOME LEAVES!
We had several frosts by the time the above photo was taken. Every night I covered the Phlomis with the big pot.
Still going in December… But eventually, even the pot couldn’t save it. January brought some really cold temperatures…
The cold temperatures persisted and I had to keep the Phlomis covered during the day. The first week of January has several -10° F mornings.
But, as you can see, there are still green leaves on January 12. After a while though, they all turned brown…
We had several warm days in February and a few of the early sprouting perennials have been coming up. Not the Phlomis, though. It is usually May before it wakes up. Well, I guess it did come up in April in 2015
I was checking to see what perennials had started coming up on March 15 and just for the heck of it, I thought I would look at the Phlomis. MAN was I shocked to see it was coming up already! I have had this plant since 2013 and it never came up this early before! I was really surprised since we had a very cold January.
Still hanging in there. I cover it with the pot every time very the weather forecast says it’s going to get below 35° F.
Looking better all the time and more sprouts! AWESOME!
I planted a Baptisia ‘Lunar Eclipse’ next to the Phlomis in 2017 not realizing what would happen. The Baptisia completely took over the corner. The Phlomis didn’t seem to mind as much as I did but I am thinking I need to move the Baptisia.
The Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles undercover.
I went to see what perennials might be peeking through on March 7. Usually several of the Hosta and a few other perennials are beginning to show up by now. That doesn’t mean they will grow that much though. I removed the pot off the Phlomis to have a peek.
Sure enough, it has some new growth.
On April 7 the Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ was beginning to have many more new leaves so I removed the old growth from last year.
On May 20 I intended to move the Baptisia ‘Lunar Eclipse’ wannabe (so named because I think it is incorrectly labeled) because it overshadows the Phlomis. I have read that the Baptisia are hard to transplant but I was going to give it a shot anyway. However… I dug all around it and the Baptisia would NOT budge. The soil was very hard down deeper and it has deep tap roots. SO, I decided I would move the Phlomis to the southeast corner bed instead. The above photo shows the Phlomis sitting on top of the soil in its new location.
I looked the plant over and thought, “I can divide and get two plants.” I removed some of the soil on its roots and saw there were two taproots. They were crooked because the soil was so hard but I managed to divide with a knife…
After I replanted them in their new spot in the southeast corner bed, I gave them a good soaking then continued taking more photos. Then I got to thinking about how that was not a good idea. I normally don’t like the same plants in different locations, even if just a few feet apart because I have compare more than one plant (or clump) and take more than one photo. For “normal” people it wouldn’t be a problem…
So, on April 22, I put the two back together again. It wasn’t especially happy with me for disturbing its roots in the first place, but when I put the two back together it really thinks I have lost my mind…
It will be in more sun in its new location, which is supposed to be OK. I just have to keep an eye on it for a while.
By May 1(2019) when the above photo it was looking much better…
I take a lot more photos than I have words for…
Looking AWESOME by May, 19…
Still looking GREAT on November 19 (2019).
Even after a few ZAPs, and me not always putting the pot over it, the Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ stayed green!
Eventually, though, I had to cover the plant and leave it on for a while. On March 21 (2020) as I was checking what had come up already, I removed the dead leaves and stems which revealed new growth. That always makes me happy!
I was fairly busy over the summer in 2020 so I didn’t take many photos of the plants around the house. The Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ did really well over the summer but,of course, it didn’t flower AGAIN!
The winter has been very mild over the 2020-2021 winter and most of the time the Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ didn’t have to be covered and stayed green even through several “F’s”. Then when February came, temps started getting cooler so I covered it up… Then temps really dropped and it snowed over the week of the 7th-13 with every day being in the mid to low teens. The forecast for February 14 and 15 said a high of 1° F and the low will be -8!!!
The Phlomis survived the winter but I was fairly busy over the summer and this plant seemed to struggle somewhat. It did survive the summer, so hopefully it will survive the winter again.
You can propagate shrubby Phlomis species by taking 4” stem cuttings in June through August. Cutting should be taken from new growth that has just begun to harden but still bendable. Remove any buds and trim below the node and place in a mixture of 50% grit and compost. The cutting should be kept damp. I haven’t tried this yet but maybe at some point I will give it a shot.
As of 2022, the Phlomis is still alive and well. It doesn’t really seem to like its new location… At least it is still alive. There are a few other spots I can try it, but no new perennials have ever survived in those areas.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE
(GENUS/P. fruticosa/P. russeliana)
THE NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION
MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN