Mediterranean plants thrive in moderate climates with dry, hot summers and wet, mild winters. California, South Africa, Chile and Australia all offer Mediterranean climates. Most Mediterranean plants prefer fully sunny locations with dryer soil conditions. Gardeners wishing to plant Mediterranean trees, shrubs and flowers should consider their USDA Hardiness Zone as well as the plant’s bloom time, common uses, bloom color and potential problems.
Despite its name, English lavender (lavandula angustifolia) is a Mediterranean perennial that grows well in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8. A member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), English lavender reaches heights between 2 and 3 feet and widths ranging from 2 to 4 feet. This plant features grayish-green leaves and purple flowers that bloom from June through August. The aromatic foliage and flowers are often used in perfumes, potpourris, sachets and culinary recipes. Root rot and leaf spot occasionally affect these plants. Gardeners often plant English lavender in herb gardens, borders, scented gardens and rock gardens.
The true laurel tree (Laurus nobilis), also called the bay laurel tree, thrives in USDA Zones 8 to 10. This Mediterranean native plant belongs to the Lauraceae family. True laurels mature to 60 feet in height, but gardeners typically prune them down to about 8 feet for home gardens. Yellow-green flowers bloom from March through May. Some culinary recipes call for true laurel leaves. True laurels occasionally contract powdery mildew and anthracnose diseases. Spider mites, mealy bugs and scale frequently feed on these plants. Many gardeners plant true laurel in woodland gardens and herb gardens. This plant also makes an excellent container plant when pruned down to shorter heights.
The autumn daffodil (Sternbergia lutea), sometimes called lily-of-the-field or winter daffodil, belongs to the Amaryllidaceae family. Indigenous from Mediterranean regions to Asia, this plant grows well in USDA Zones 6 to 9. The autumn daffodil blooms crocus-like, yellow flowers in September and October. This plant typically grows from 3 to 6 inches high with similar spreads. The green leaves last through the winter months. Autumn daffodils are not associated with any serious disease or pest problems. This plant works well in rock gardens, containers and borders.
Rosemary plants (Rosmarinus officinalis) are herbaceous Mediterranean shrubs in the Lamiaceae family. Hardy in USDA Zones 8 to 10, rosemary plants range from 3 to 6 feet in height and 2 to 4 feet in width. The small, blue or white flower clusters attract bees. The aromatic, grayish-green foliage is often used in recipes, sachets, perfumes and lotions. Botrytis blight and powdery mildew sometimes affect outdoor rosemary plants. Indoor plants occasionally attract spider mites, mealy bugs and aphids. Rosemary plants can be pruned into specific shapes and used as container plants in sunny locations. Gardeners also use rosemary plants in borders and herb gardens.
Common Olive Trees
Common olive trees (Olea europaea) are Mediterranean plants that thrive in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 10. This member of the Oleaceae family reaches between 20 and 30 feet in height and ranges from 15 to 25 feet in width. Aromatic, white flowers bloom in June and July, followed by green olives that mature to black. The pointed leaves have green-gray tops and silvery-green undersides. The common olive tree often suffers from olive knot, root rot and verticillium wilt. Scale occasionally attack these plants. Gardeners typically plant common olive trees for the olive fruit.