(Atlas Mountain Sage) Tawny looking from a distance, the Atlas Mountains of northern Africa are home to an abundance of greenery, including the lovely Salvia interrupta. The mountains contrast sharply with the extreme aridity of the Sahara Desert, which they border.
Atlas Mountain Sage has deep violet flowers marked with white throats as well as apple-green foliage. Fragrant, triple-lobed basal leaves form rosettes at the base of red and green striped square stems, which round as they mature. The intermittence of the whorling blossoms gives this petite sage its scientific name.
Although drought tolerant, Atlas Mountain Sage thrives with average watering based on local conditions. It is native to the lightly shaded forests and limestone slopes of Morocco's portion of the mountain range. Although it can handle a bit of shade, this sage prefers full sun. It is heat tolerant and also withstands the winter chill of USDA Zone 7.
Early 20th century Irish journalist and gardener William Robinson, who championed more naturalistic landscapes, called Atlas Mountain Sage one of the most beautiful border plants. It also works well as a groundcover, pathway edging, container plant or houseplant. Honeybees love it.
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.
(Greek Sage) Most of the dried culinary sage sold in the United States is Greek Sage. Frescoes on the island of Crete, dating to 1400 BC, depict this plant used by the Phoenicians and Greeks for cooking and medicine. It is an ancient and beloved friend of mankind.
In the garden, Greek Sage provides a pleasant lavender fragrance, especially on warm days, and has spikes of pink-to-lavender flowers. Similar to most culinary sages, it loves full sun and well-drained soil. However, it tolerates moist ground. This compact plant, which grows 24 inches tall and 18 inches wide, is a good choice for fragrant borders and patio containers as well as kitchen gardens.
Grow this drought-resistant, heat-tolerant plant in well-drained soil that is on the dry side. Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds will thank you with frequent visits.
Although some cooks find Salvia oficinalis culinary sages tastier, Salvia fruticosa is easier to grow. It comprises 50 to 95% of the commercial market. We think it offers an interesting change of taste.
(Big Grape Sage) This lavender-flowered native of Northern Mexico resembles Salvia melissodora (Grape Scented Sage), but is bigger and also has larger leaves and flowers. It's a great companion plant for its little brother, which shares the same cultural needs and affinity for Zones 8 to 10. Both bloom from summer into fall.
Similar to Salvia melissodora, this sage is used by the indigenous Tarahumara people of Chihuahua, Mexico, as a medicinal herb. Another commonality is that the flowers smell like ripe grapes, a fact that young children enjoy confirming. In addition to the fragrance of its flowers, Big Grape Sage has appealing leaves with furry, white undersides.
Give this heat-tolerant Salvia a sunny, warm spot in well-drained soil. Then watch it grow without fuss. Although drought tolerant, it enjoys regular watering. Big Grape Sage is a good choice as a mid-height groundcover or in shrubby and herbaceous perennial borders.
Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds highly recommend this sage, but deer avoid it.
(Scordy Sage) Little is known about this shrubby Ecuadorian native. We're not even sure it is from Ecuador! However, this is another sage that sells itself instantly when seen in bloom. The large clusters of rich, deep violet flowers bloom summer to fall, attracting honeybees and hummingbirds.
Its dainty, velvety, gray-green foliage makes it look similar to its Southern California relative Grape Scented Sage (Salvia melissodora), but Scordy Sage is easier to grow and, to us, seems stronger in a home garden. All it needs is full sun, good drainage and average watering. It grows well in USDA Zone 7 to 9 gardens.
This drought-resistant sage is also related to Big Grape Sage (Salvia keerli). At 36 inches tall and wide, Scordy Sage is a ideal for the middle of a border, the edge of a path or any kind of sunny, dry garden.
(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.
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.