(Balkan Sage) Violet-blue whorls of flowers and plentiful, fuzzy, basal leaves that reach an impressive length of 18 inches are two notable features about this hardy, herbaceous perennial, which is native to the Southeastern Balkan Peninsula.
Balkan Sage is found in coniferous forests, meadows and slopes from Bulgaria to Turkey's Black Sea coast. However, it is named after the 19th century Finnish plant collector Peter Forsskål, who collected botanical samples further south in Saudi Arabia.
Although deciduous in areas with cold winters, it blooms about nine months a year for us on the Northern California coast beginning in summer. Following a brief winter dormancy, it returns reliably every spring, clumping in a way that makes it look like Hosta from a distance. Yet, unlike that woodland plant, it grows well in full sun as well partial shade. It is a fine choice for a lightly shaded garden or border and is happy in the acid soil under conifers.
Give it soil with average fertility, occasional water and enough shade to promote lush growth. Your reward will be large flowers with lovely white and yellow bee lines attractive to hummingbirds and honeybees.
These are herbaceous perennial species with low mounds of foliage and flowers on stems that grow erect from the base of the plant.
Pruning is both an art and a science. It takes practice, experience and learning from your mistakes to become a proficient pruner. The pruning information about this plant should be considered as a guideline for getting started. Your particular climate, soils, watering and fertility schedules, sun exposure, space requirements and weather are all factors that influence how and when you choose to prune. We’re providing a starting place for you, and over time you will learn the particularities of this plant in your garden. Don’t be afraid to get started – Salvias, in general, are quick to rebound if inappropriately pruned.
Deadheading – the removal of spent flowers, is a practice that will always benefit the plant’s health and appearance. This can be done at any time. Pruning involves removal of entire stems of spent growth. Becoming "spent" means that flowering stems stop blooming and begin going to seed.
(Stem Clasping Violet Sage) Like a candelabra lit up with whorls of violet blossoms, the erect, branching flower spikes of Salvia amplexicaulis make this native of Southeastern Europe shine. On the Grecian island of Thassos, it brightens areas near the beach.
The summer-blooming flowers are nestled inside leaf-like burgundy bracts that attach directly to, or clasp, the flower stems without petioles. This gives the plant its common name. Its bright green, fragrant foliage has attractively bumpy, lance-shaped leaves. This sage is a good choice for perennial borders, woodland gardens and cut-flower beds.
Although S. amplexicaulis does fine with regular watering, it does love moisture. So it is an ideal choice for moist problem areas in the yard. Give it a setting with full sun to partial shade along with average garden soil that drains well. Deadhead the flowers to prolong bloom time and keep butterflies visiting. Speaking of wildlife, deer tend to avoid most sages including this one.
Here’s another reason to love this pretty plant: Scientists think that the essential oil of S. amplexicaulis may be useful in fighting bacterial infections.
Here is a link to a great set of pictures for this plant.
Whorls of deep violet blossoms are cupped by dark bracts on the flower spikes of this mid-height herbaceous sage from Turkey. Its bright green foliage is thick, corrugated and fragrant. This plant is lovely and hardy, so it is surprising that it wasn’t introduced to commercial cultivation until 2007.
Salvia cadmica is an adaptable, heat-tolerant perennial that grows well in partial shade to full sun and blooms from late spring through early summer. It does well in USDA Zones 7 to 10, either in dry conditions or with regular watering due to its ability to tolerate drought.
In its homeland, it thrives in rocky, well-drained soil at altitudes of about 3,000 to 5,000 feet. It is endemic to Turkey, which means that is the only country where it grows wild without human intervention. There are nearly 100 species of salvia native to Turkey, of which more than 50 percent are endemic.
This colorful sage sometimes is mistaken for a neighboring plant, Salvia smyrnea and is occasionally referred to by the synonym Salvia conradii Staph .
Use it in perennial borders, along pathways and in dry gardens. Honeybees and butterflies will soon discover it and aid pollination throughout your gardens. Deer, however, will leave it alone.
(Caucasus Sage) This hardy ground cover sage grows 4 to 12 inches tall and 12 inches wide. The velvety white fur of its foliage aids moisture retention. Its soft, royal purple flowers make it stand out. We think this Salvia deserves to spread far and wide.
A tough native of the Caucasus Mountains of central Asia, it survives the freezing temperatures of Zone 5, forming a tight mat that withstands light traffic. It blooms in early summer and again in fall. Plant this beauty in well-drained soil, but don't pamper it; Caucasus Sage grows well in harsh environments.
This is one of the shortest Salvias we grow and makes a fine border edging or rock garden plant. We highly recommend its use as a ground cover, so we offer a discount for larger orders.
Here is a great blog article about this plant.
(Jerusalem Sage) This lovely herbaceous perennial is native to Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank. Its clear pink flowers transition at times to a pink highlighted with violet lines and dots. Prominent glandular hairs on the buds, bracts and floral stems exude a fragrance that is delightful on a warm day.
"Hierosolymitana" is related to the Greek word "hieros," which means holy and the Latin name for Jerusalem, "Hierosolyma." Palestinian Arabs sometimes use its leaves as a food wrap, similar to grape leaves. Jerusalem Sage needs full sun. Heat and drought tolerant, it seems to prefer being a bit dry.
A short species that works well as a groundcover or border plant, Jerusalem Sage forms a basil rosette of mid-green leaves that gradually spread about 18 inches. It blooms on and off throughout the growing season and seems especially generous in spring and fall.
(Variegated Mexican Bush Sage) Although slow growing and somewhat finicky, this sage is a must-have for lovers of unique foliage. It has small purple flowers and highly variegated leaves with stems that are slightly twisted. The overall look is compact and dense.
We have grown this Sage for many years. Many similar-to-identical clones with Japanese names are on the market, but this is the best grower of a not particularly robust variety.
Variegated Mexican Bush Sage likes partial shade. Plant it in humus-rich soil that is well drained and give it plenty of water. It is a delight in a mixed planter.
(Red Sage, Chinese Sage, Dan-shen) The bright red, finger-like roots of Salvia miltiorrhiza have a long history in traditional Chinese herbal medicine. We offer this important plant on a limited basis.
WebMD reports that Danshen is used in Asia to treat a number of cardiovascular problems and "appears to thin the blood by preventing platelet and blood clotting." It is the subject of ongoing medical research.
Danshen has fragrant lavender flowers that bloom in summer and seem to glow in the shade. This woodland plant grows well in partial shade. It prefers rich, well-drained soil and can handle ample moisture. Native to Asia, including areas that experience winter chill, it grows well in USDA Zones 6 to 9.
This is a petite plant rising from 12 to 24 inches tall. Danshen looks lovely in mixed borders with Hostas and other woodland plants. It is also a fine choice for edging shady pathways where you can view it up close.
(Royal Crimson Distinction Woodland Sage) Grown for hundreds of years in cottage gardens throughout the world, Salvia nemorosa was described by Carl Linneaus in 1762. This variety's large flower spikes bloom a dark violet-crimson, then age to a softer pink.
The species has experienced a great deal of breeding and improvement since the 1800s. Royal Crimson Distinction is one of the finest varieties we have seen to date. It tolerates the year-round warmth of Zone 9 as well as the winter chill of Zone 6
This water-loving sage blooms from spring through summer, attracting bumblebees, butterflies and hummingbirds, but not deer. It grows best in a sunny spot, but can tolerate partial shade. Plant it in well-drained soil with average fertility.
Long blooming and tough, this plant has become a mainstay of perennial borders worldwide. At 24 inches tall, it also works well as a groundcover or edging a path.
(Cambridge Blue Gentian Sage) Cambridge Blue is one of the most famous varieties of Salvia patens, which was discovered in Central Mexico in 1838. Its powder blue flowers are delightful and cooling in the landscape.
This variety grows well in full sun or partial shade. Well branched and compact, it has 2 1/2 inch flowers that bloom from summer into fall. Similar to other Gentian Sages, this is a reliable perennial, returning year after year in Zones 8 to 11. However, all varieties of this species are so lovely that they are worth growing as summer bedding plants in colder zones.
British horticulturist Graham Stuart Thomas called Salvia patens "the best plant in cultivation."
Highly recommended by hummingbirds, but not by deer!
(Turkish Cliff Sage) Spring into early summer, Turkish Cliff Sage produces erect, branching flower spikes 24 to 36 inches long that rise from basal foliage. They’re covered with whorls of pale pink blossoms with delicate white markings.
Salvia recognita is endemic to Central Turkey, which means that is the only place where it originates in the wild. It's found at the base of cliffs at altitudes up to 4,000 feet where heat tolerance and drought resistance are necessary for survival. Long silky hairs give the plant’s light green leaves a grayish cast and help them conserve moisture. The leaves vary in size from 3 to 12 inches long.
As a cliff dweller, this heat-tolerant sage is adjusted to rocky, dry soils. However, we’ve found that it can handle regular watering and isn’t picky about soil types except for requiring good drainage. It does well in either full sun or partial shade.
Although deer don’t consider Salvia recognita a good snack, honeybees and butterflies love it. In the ground, it can grow from 3 to 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. So it works well as a background or border planting. With careful trimming, it also looks lovely in containers.
(Clary or Clear Eye Sage or Eyebright) Pink-purple bracts and violet-purple flowers form a pastel cloud over the large, rumpled leaves of Clary Sage in summer. It is a towering beauty growing up to 5 feet tall. Sacred to some due to age-old use in herbal remedies, it is heavenly to look at.
Depending on the nose of the gardener, its fragrance is either equally heavenly or hellishly rank like dirty socks. Personally, we enjoy Clary's musky aroma.
Native to the Mediterranean, Clary loves full sun and works well in dry gardens as a background planting. It's also a good choice for a kitchen garden, because it also has a long history of culinary use. If you enjoy its fragrance, it is a fine choice for borders, cut flower gardens and containers.
Clary is a biennial that blooms and dies the second year after it is planted. If you can tolerate snipping the lovely flower stalks before they wither, you can increase the plant's bloom. It reseeds, which means that you can expect new plants even though it isn't a perennial. Butterflies and honeybees love it, but deer leave it alone.
This is seed wild collected in Turkey, and is the most vigerous form we have encountered.
(Italian Clary Sage) Clary Sages are well known for their use in folk remedies, aromatherapy and cosmetics. Glowing purple bracts frame the spectacular white blooms of this cultivar on 5-foot-tall spikes. It is a delight for honeybees and butterflies.
The foot-long hairy leaves of this rosette-forming herbaceous perennial are striking for their symmetry and dark petioles.
Flowering begins in early summer; if you remove the spent spikes, bloom time continues until close to fall. Use Italian Clary Sage in perennial borders and background plantings.
The key to long-term success with this ancient species is to never allow seed to form. Pruning the spikes is a difficult choice, because the bracts are so showy. However, failure to do so results in a short -lived plant. The cut stems look pretty in flower arrangements.
Give this plant full sun and well-drained soil. Although it is drought resistant and works well in dry gardens, this sage responds well to average watering based on local conditions.
Clary Sage is native to Europe. It was one of the first Salvias described by the Ancient Greeks, who used it medicinally to make eye washes and other remedies. Although some gardeners disagree, our noses know that this plant's heady aroma is a blessing in the garden.
We highly recommend this plant as the best variety of its species.
(Lilac Sage) We try not to brag too much, but this is our own variety of Salvia verticillata from home-grown seed, and we think it is spectacular. Butterflies and honeybees also are in love with this long-blooming, heat-tolerant perennial.
Spring into summer, dense whorls of blue-to-smoky lavender flowers cover 3-foot-tall spikes arising from fragrant, mint-green, basal foliage. This native of Europe and Central Asia is lovely when mixed in cut-flower arrangements.
Although it only needs average watering based on local conditions, Lilac Sage works well in moist areas. It looks pretty in borders and containers and as a pathway edging. Give it full sun or partial shade in USDA Zones 5 to 9.
We offer this plant at a very reasonable price in order to encourage its widespread planting. When you grow Salvia verticillata, you help us help the honeybees and other beneficial insects pollinating gardens.
(Dominican Sage) Native to Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, this candelabra-shaped, perennial sage may have inspired the design of the menorah, (Exodus 37:17). It is a tough, drought-resistant plant with silver-haired foliage and bright white flowers that seem to blaze.
The specific epitaph dominica means "belonging to the Lord." This medicinal sage has a heavenly fragrance and is used in perfumery, cosmetics and the production of a rare essential oil. Plant it in full sun as a compact border or in a dry garden. It makes a fine groundcover.
Dominican Sage thrives in poor yet well-drained soil and doesn't require much water. We have found it to be durable, but it does not tolerate wet, cold winters. However, the fragrance of this plant on a warm day makes it worth growing as an annual.
(Guanajuato Giant Gentian Sage) At 3 inches long, the flowers of this Gentian Sage are the largest of any we grow. Guanjuato Giant is also unique for its tall, upright growth and heavily textured foliage.
Spikes of deep, true blue flowers that rise up to 48 inches tall make this perennial sage a standout in the garden from summer into fall. This Gentian Sage is reliably perennial in USDA Zones 8 to 11. Its spectacular flowers also make it a fine choice as a summer bedding plant in areas with colder winters.
Guanjuato Giant likes regular watering and rich, well-drained soil. It does fine in full sun or partial shade and can handle moist corners of the yard. Use it as a path edging, border, groundcover or container plant.
German botanist Karl Hartweg discovered the Salvia patens species in 1838. British horticulturist Graham Stuart Thomas later called it "the best plant in cultivation."
Although, true blue is not a part of the color spectrum that hummingbirds favor, they are attracted to Gentian Sages especially when mixed with red-flowered sages.
To bloom yearly, Salvia perennials and shrubs in USDA Hardiness Zone 5 need to tolerate deep freeze winters with average low temperatures of -20 degrees F. The success of Zone 5 sages also depends on local growing conditions. Learn more at Flowers by the Sea, an online, mail-order Salvia nursery.
Hummingbirds love Salvia (sage) nectar and are attracted to it by the bright colors of tubular sage blossoms. In particular, these little whirlybirds can easily spot flowers in the red spectrum, which is prevalent among sages. Here are some hummingbird gardening tips.
If you live in suburbs or rural areas where deer plunder gardens, Salvias (sages) can be part of your plan for discouraging these hungry visitors. Here are some tips.