There are over 200 species of Hypericum, from shrubs, to sub-shrubs, to herbaceous perennials, and Hypericum olympicum is an excellent one for rock gardens. A native of southeast Europe and Asia Minor, Olympic St. John’s Wort grows only 9-12” high and bears yellow flowers 1.5-2” across in early summer. The bushy shrub has a fine texture with small, rounded, grayish leaves and trailing stems. In addition to being an excellent rock garden plant, Olympic St. John’s wort is good both at the front of the border and as a ground cover. The genus name, Hypericum, is from the Greek word hypereidon and is derived from hyper, meaning above, plus eikon meaning picture. The plant was believed to keep evil spirits away and the flowers of some species were placed above pictures to ward off evil at the ancient midsummer festival on June 24 which later became he feast of St. John. In revenge the Devil pierced holes in leaves of some species with a needle.
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Bloom: Two to three yellow flowers 1.5-2” across are borne in cymes in early summer.
Foliage: Long sessile, pointed, grayish green leaves.
Size: 9-12” H x 12” W
Light: Partial shade to full sun
Soil: Average, well-drained; tolerates some drought
Hardiness: Zones 6-8
Care: Cut back in early spring
Pests and Diseases: None of significance
Propagation: Fresh seed; basal cuttings in spring, terminal cuttings in fall
Companion plants: Saponaria ocymoides (soapwort), Scabiosa graminifolia, Silene schafta (campion)
Outstanding Selections: ‘Citrinum’ (lemon yellow flowers).