To the ballota genus belong numerous species of herbaceous plants, such as for example the Ballota pseudodictamnus, a beautiful perennial evergreen herbaceous plant, native to the Mediterranean. This plant with its characteristic and recognizable appearance due to its round and gray foliage, vaguely reminiscent of sage, has a ground cover, and produces small roundish cushions, up to 40-50 cm high. To maintain the compact and dense form of these Ballota bushes it is advisable to prune the plant after flowering, in spring.
It has thin, woody, densely branched stems, which bear small heart-shaped leaves, covered by a thin hair that gives the entire plant a greyish color. At the end of spring it produces small pinkish flowers, even if the plant is cultivated above all for the decorative foliage; in general this plant is evergreen, even though during particularly cold winters it tends to lose the aerial part altogether, or even only partially.
In the north the winter desiccation is therefore very frequent but if the winter and the temperatures have not been particularly rigid, the plant can push back the following spring.
Being part of the Lamiaceae family, the same as the Salvia, it is easy to notice some similarities in addition to the very obvious ones: the flower, although very small, is very reminiscent of that of sage due to its shape.
As far as exposure is concerned, Ballota plants love bright and sunny positions; they do not fear the cold and can withstand even intense and prolonged frosts. They prefer warm, sunny summers and don't like winter humidity. The Mediterranean climate and the positions in full sun favor the best development of this plant.
Speaking of water, the Ballota pseudodictamnus generally tend to be satisfied with the rains, and endure drought without problems; it may be necessary to intervene with light watering during the summer but let us absolutely remember to avoid watering in the coldest periods of the year. The cold could cause water to freeze in the soil and damage our plants.
As a rule of thumb regarding how much and how to water these plants, remember to give water only when the soil has completely dried. We touch the ground with one finger between one watering and the other to check the degree of humidity of the earth, after which we evaluate whether to intervene with a watering or not.
These plants are grown in a soft and very well drained soil, not particularly rich; It is advisable to mix universal soil and sand with the garden soil in the place where the ballota is to be placed.
The reproduction of the Ballota occurs by seed, in spring; in summer it is possible to take apical cuttings, which root with great ease; in autumn it is possible to divide the clumps, maintaining some well-developed roots for each portion practiced.
In any case, it is a plant that has no problem multiplying in the areas where it finds the ideal climate and suitable for its needs.
Ballota pseudodictamnus: Pests and diseases
Ballota plants are generally not affected by pests or diseases for which there are no particular problems. To prevent the plant from deteriorating, we try never to overdo it with watering to avoid dangerous water stagnation that can start a series of unpleasant phenomena of weakening and malaise of the plant.