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Salvia (SAL-vee-uh)

Common Name:  Sage

Light:  - Full sun to part sun

Soil:  Average to rich, sandy, well-drained loam

Moisture:  Slightly dry

Blooms:  Summer

Zones:  varies by species


Salvia n. 'Caradonna'

Salvia v. 'Purple Rain'

Salvia Description and Cultural Information

Salvias make up a vast group of tender and hardy species from around the globe. They are mounded, clump forming, shrubby plants with beautifully shaped, tubular flowers on square, mostly upright stems. The whole plant is often aromatic. Listed below are two of the more common hardy types, but there are dozens of species and many hybrids in the genus.

Salvia nemorosa, violet sage, hybrid sage. 18 - 42". This group of bushy plants have green, triangular, soft hairy leaves and many branching stems with upright spikes of long blooming flowers in summer. Many plants listed are hybrids with other species. 'Amethyst' has purplish-blue flowers on tall stems to 40". 'Caradonna' has light green foliage, purplish stems, and purple blue flowers to 24". 'May Night' has rich, violet flowers with reddish-purple bracts on stems to 18". 'Rose Queen' has rose pink flowers to 24". 'Snow Hill' has gray-green foliage and white flowers to 20". There are many others as well. Zones 3 - 8.

Salvia verticillata, whorled sage. 2 - 3'. This species has hairy, grayish-green foliage and rounded clusters of purplish buds opening to small, violet-blue flower, growing at intervals up the arching, foliated spikes. 'Purple Rain' has rich, purplish buds opening into smokey-purple flowers for several weeks during the summer. 'White Rain' has pure white flowers. Interestingly enough we have had a fair number of self-sown seedlings when growing 'White Rain' but 'Purple Rain' appears to be relatively sterile. In addition 'White Rain' tends to have problems with powdery mildew while 'Purple Rain' is mildew resistant. Zones 5 - 9.

How to Grow:  Plant salvia in average to sandy, well-drained soil in full to part sun. They are easy to grow, long blooming, and very drought tolerant. Plants may have a tendency to fall over after blooming, but if this happens, trim them down to the ground and they will grow all new foliage. In the case of Salvia verticillata, trimming them back to the ground after flowering will encourage them to bloom a second time in the same season. Division can be done in spring or fall.

Landscape uses:  Plant salvias in the well-drained perennial garden with other drought tolerant perennials such as Achillea, sedums, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Iris, dayliles, lilies, Stokesia, Yucca, Kniphofia, and ornamental grasses.

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