Salvia is supposedly derived from the Latin salvus ‘safe’ referring to the medicinal value of this plant. Sage is possibly derived from salvus through the French sauge
- Bloom time: Mid to late summer
- Height: 24 to 48”
- Sun needed: Full
- Bloom color: White, Shades of blue and violet
- Planting space: 12” to 18” apart
- Soil preferred: Well drained, fertile
- Propagation method: Seed, cuttings.
There are over 900 species in this plant family and many have been grown in the garden. The following are some of the more important perennial garden plants.
Salvia argentea 24” tall with white flowers. The plant is mostly grown for its wonderful display of silver, woolly foliage. In fertile soils, this foliage can spread upwards of 24 to 30” across. It is short lived on clay soils or if ice is allowed to form on the crown during winter. Some authors claim this is a biennial and in some gardens it may act this way. I have had it live for 4 years so it also behaves as a perennial – it is however, a short-lived one.
Salvia involucrata is a taller species, reaching an easy 48” tall in moderately fertile soils. No staking is needed for the reddish purple flowers.
‘Rosebud’ is a pink variety and highly recommended
‘Bethellii’ is red and harder to find but worth the search.
Salvia nemerosa hybrids
‘Blue Hills’ 18 to 24” tall and is fairly close to real blue (compared to the violet shades of the rest of the family)
‘East Friesland’ is a dark, rich violet-purple with a good compact growth habit.
‘Lubecca’ 30” tall, with longer lasting violet flowers is medal winner from Europe.
‘May Night (‘Mainacht’) 30” tall, indigo-violet flower spikes. Was Perennial Plant of the Year in 1997.
‘Plumosa’ 30” tall has distinctive feather flower spikes in a red-violet color.
- Grow perennial salvia on well drained soils; water around the crown is the number one cause of death.
- In northern gardens, it pays to mulch with evergreens to keep water and ice from freezing on the crown of the plant.
- Plant them in the full sun. Although they’ll live in the part shade, they grow and flower much better with adequate sunshine.
- They seldom require staking except if the garden is heavily fertilized; they have very low feeding needs.
Potions and Poisons
The salvia family or sages are one of the most used of herbs in the world. Used for medicine, cooking, cosmetics and an entire range of industrial purposes, there are no concerns with growing this plant in the garden.