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Salvia nutans


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Salvia nutans




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Time to think about Fall Planting
This plant is
Ideal for Fall Planting

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Description

(Nodding Sage) “Dancing in the air” is how garden writer Joseph Tychonievich describes the tall, graceful flower spikes of Nodding Sage, which can tower up to 5 feet tall over the plant’s 18-inch-tall foliage during the summer flowering season. These are a slow growing sage, and often take a year to become established before blooming.

It’s no wonder that one of Nodding Sage’s many botanical synonyms is Salvia pendula considering the way the branches of the flower spikes curve at their tips with purple flowers dangling like bunches of grapes. As Tychonievich says in his Arrowhead Alpines blog, the flowers appear to be “suspended almost magically” over the large, green basal leaves.

The appellation nutans in Nodding Sage’s scientific name refers to the drooping or nodding character of the flowers. This sage is native to the meadow-steppe lands that stretch from Hungary across Bulgaria, the Ukraine and Russia to the Caucassus Mountains on the eastern edge of the Black Sea.

Nodding Sage is cold tolerant to USDA Zone 6. Give it full sun and well-drained soil. Although it appreciates average watering based on local conditions, it also grows well in dry gardens. It is attractive as a groundcover or amid a mixed patio planter. Nodding Sage also looks lovely as an airy path edging or in a perennial border where the flower spikes can poke out above bushier sages.

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Common name  
Nodding Sage
USDA Zones  
6 - 9
Size (h/w/fh)  
18"/18"/60"
Exposure  
Full sun
Soil type  
Well drained
Water needs  
Average
Pot size  
3 1/2 inch deep pot
Container plant?  
Yes
Our price
11.00

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Here are some guidelines for success with this plant in your garden.
Click on an individual icon for more detailed information.

Exposure

Full sun
Full sun

Growing Habit

6 - 9
6 - 9
18 inches tall
18 inches tall
18 inches wide
18 inches wide
Perennial
Perennial

Water Needs

Average water
Average water

Blooming Season

Summer blooming
Summer blooming

Wildlife

Deer resistant
Deer resistant

Colors

Salvias and their companion plants pop with color. Sweep your eyes from top to the bottom here for an impression of this plant's color combinations. The first row displays blossoms from primary to less dominant shades and includes any contrasting throat color. The second tier is the main hue of leaf-like bracts or calyxes supporting the flowers. Foliage (one or two colors) leafs out in the bottom row.
Primary color - Light Violet
RHS# 91A






Throat color - Very Pale Violet - RHS# 91D




Secondary color - Strong Violet
RHS# 90B



Bract color - Light Yellowish Green
RHS# 144D

Leaf color - Moderate Olive Green
RHS# 137A



Learn more about how we analyze plant colors
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Ready for some pruning?

Rosette growing herbaceous perennial Salvias

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.

Growing Season Pruning

During spring and summer, completely remove any flowering stems that become spent.


Dormant Season Pruning

At the end of the season, cut to ground any remaining flower stems.


Check the Views from the Garden section of our Everything Salvias Blog for videos that apply to this plant.

  • Salvia cadmica

    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.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia canescens var. daghestanica

    (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.

    11.50
  • Salvia coahuilensis

    (Coahuila Sage) Such a pretty little shrub! Its beet-purple flowers will amaze you from June until autumn frost. Coahuilla Sage is an ideal ground cover or sunny border plant at 24 inches tall and wide. Small, shiny, deep green leaves clothe this densely branched, mounding sage.

    This beauty comes from the mountains of Coahuilla, Mexico. Aside from full sun, a little watering and well-drained soil, it is undemanding. We find it to be most attractive when kept on the lean side. A gentle shearing after blooming keeps it tidy and tight.

    Similar in many ways to Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage), this plant has smaller leaves with a distinct spicy aroma. Coahuilla Sage is generally smaller and has a more intense flower color that S. greggii's just dream of. Obviously, we highly recommend it.

    10.50
  • Salvia hierosolymitana

    (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.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia microphylla 'Orange Door'

    (Big Orange Mountain Sage) When temperatures are cooler in spring and fall, the persimmon-orange flowers of this large Mountain Sage darken. Gray-green foliage, deep red calyxes and reddish-green stems add to the plant's fascinating look, which mixes well with yellows and blues.

    This Salvia microphylla comes from the mountains of Northern Mexico. We call it "Big Orange," because it matures to 4 feet tall and wide. Its flowers are also large and bloom spring to fall in USDA Zones 7 to 9.

    Similar to many Salvias, Big Orange is adaptable to differing conditions, including either full sun or partial shade. It grows well in a wide range of climates, including the hot, dry Southwest and the cool, moist Pacific Northwest. Although this heat- and drought-tolerant sage fits well in a dry, native garden, it also appreciates regular watering and an average garden soil, such as sandy loam.

    Plant it as a tall groundcover that can help control weeds. Or mass it for a shrubby border. It also looks pretty in a container where its height will be shorter.

    10.50
  • Salvia pomifera

    (Fruit Sage) Also known as Apple Sage, this is an extremely drought-resistant plant. Its common names come from the small round fruit-like galls that an insect creates on its branches on the island of Crete where it is native to dry slopes.

    The galls develop when a small gallfly, also called a gall wasp, invades the sage's branches -- something that also happens to Salvia fruticosa in its Grecian homeland. Some people eat these tart-flavored galls raw and others use them to create a sweet conserve. Herbalists also use the leaves as a folk remedy, such as in tea.

    However, in USDA Zones 8 to 10, this fragrant, heat-tolerant sage is simply an elegant shrub that must be grown in dry soil.  Excess water during the growing season leads to a rapid demise.  Salvia pomifera thrives in full sun, even in dry clay soils. Yet it prefers ground that drains well.

    From summer into fall, its pale white-to-lavender flowers attract honeybees and butterflies to dry gardens. Use it as a groundcover on a slope, as part of a shrub border or an edging for sunny pathways.

    This sage is not common in the United States. We are very happy to be able to recommend it to gardeners in hot, arid regions.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia recognita

    (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.

    11.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia regeliana

    (The Queen's Sage) Regal spikes of lavender-to-purple flowers give weight to this sage's common name. It provides an abundance of blossoms during summer in USDA Zones 6 to 10. Cold hardy and heat tolerant, this impressive perennial comes from the mountains of Turkey.

    Queen's Sage grows quickly into a large clump with tall, branched flower spikes. The fragrant foliage is an attractive gray-green. Although it is also known as Salvia verticillata subsp. verticillata, this seems inaccurate from a gardener's perspective. Queen's Sage tends to be taller and more stately than Lilac Sage.

    This is an attractive plant for perennial borders, large container plantings or path edging. Give it full sun, well-drained soil and average watering based on local conditions. Butterflies love it. Hummingbirds also visit, which can't be said for all Old World Salvias.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia ringens

    (Mount Olympus Sage) The deep violet and white flowers of Salvia ringens are eyecatching. Their wiry, branched spikes rise up to 5 feet tall from a dark green basal rosette.

    Ringens refers to the gaping look of the sage's two-lipped flowers, which bloom from summer into fall. Another notable characteristic about the plant's appearance is the fernlike look of its slightly gray foliage.

    This cold-hardy sage grows well in USDA Zones 6 to 9. It is endemic to the mountainous Balkan countries of Southeastern Europe, which means those are the only places to which it is native. As its common name indicates, the largest concentration is on Greece's Mount Olympus -- the mythological home of the Titans.

    This sage is easy to grow. Give it full sun, good drainage and loamy but not-too-rich soil. Although it does well in dry gardens, this sage needs at least occasional summer watering and more while becoming established. Winter mulch is necessary in the coldest zones.

    Gardeners in the UK have grown Mount Olympus Sage in perennial borders since at least 1913. However, it has never become popular in the United States. We think this needs to change!

    Highly recommended!

    12.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia somalensis

    (Somalian Mountain Sage) Large, powder-blue flowers combine with 4-inch-long, furry, lime-green leaves -- a winning combination at bloom time from summer into fall. The flowers are unusual, because they generally grow on the branchlets and the terminal end of each stem.

    This sage from the high-elevation forest lands of Somalia grows well in full sun to partial shade. Although drought tolerant and a good choice for dry gardens, it thrives in normal garden conditions of average, well-drained soil and average watering based on local conditions.

    Somalian Mountain Sage looks pretty in perennial borders and cut-flower gardens where it can grow up to 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Container planting also works well and limits growth.

    Uncommon in US gardens, Salvia somalensis is the subject of research for medical and cosmetic use. However, this is a lovely, long-blooming sage and deserves to be planted more widely in the landscapes of USDA Zones 8 to 11.
    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia transsylvanica

    (Romanian Sage) Here's a great selection for mixed Salvia borders in zones with colder winters. This herbaceous perennial features deep violet flowers in large whorls atop tall, branched spikes.

    As its name indicates, Romania is a homeland. This cold- and heat-tolerant sage is also native to Northern and Central Russia.

    The stems of this sage are lax; they trail across the ground rooting as they go and forming small clumps. Flowering begins in early summer and continues until first frost. Lovely and long-blooming, this Salvia deserves to be planted in more gardens.

    Place Romanian Sage where you can also enjoy the prominently textured, yellow-green leaves, such as front of border or edging a pathway in a cottage garden. Give it full sun to partial shade, well-drained soil and average watering based on local conditions in USDA Zones 6 to 9.

    Although this sage probably is hardy to temperatures below 0 degrees F, we haven't yet been able to verify this hunch. If you live in Zone 5 or a colder area and decide to give it a test run, we would love to hear about the results. Remember that winter mulching usually improves chances of survival.

    Highly recommended by people but not by deer!

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia verticillata

    (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.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia villosa

    (Hairy Sage) In 1877, J.G. Schaffner of Germany -- also known as Johann Wilhelm Schaffner -- collected the small, airy looking Salvia villosa while working as a pharmacist in the town of San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

    Perhaps it was the cool powder blue and softly blended white beelines of the half-inch-long flowers that caught his eye. They bloom from summer into fall. Or maybe it was the contrast of the plants fuzzy, silvery gray foliage that made him take a specimen. In time, American botanist Merritt Lyndon Fernald would give the plant its scientific name using the term villosa to indicate its hairy quality.

    Hairy foliage conserves moisture. Salvia villosa is ideal for dry gardens, such as rockeries, due to its excellent drought resistance. It is heat tolerant and grows best in dry climates where it doesn't have to deal with much winter moisture.

    When these conditions are met, this pretty, little sage is a pleasing plant. To help it succeed outside the Southwest, we recommend growing it in a container where it can be sheltered from heavy winter moisture. Give this plant full sun, great drainage and limited water in USDA Zones 8 to 11. That's all it needs.

    Very limited.
    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

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I like Amstiad

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.


  1. Go tubular. Hummingbirds need tubular flowers that are easy for long, thin beaks to access.
  2. Provide lots of color. Think of yourself as a cafeteria manager who needs to provide many tempting choices in order to attract business. Red, pink, orange and purple sages are particularly powerful hummingbird magnets.
  3. Keep your garden blooming. Plant a variety of Salvias based not only on color but also a broad span of bloom times. Many flower from spring into fall. Others are prolific fountains of nectar for shorter seasons. Numerous winter-blooming species are available for areas that are home to hummingbirds year round.
  4. Grow sages native to the Western Hemisphere. Although hummingbirds will take advantage of many kinds of tubular flowering plants, these tiny birds are native to the Western Hemisphere and prefer flowering plants native to their half of the world.
  5. Select Salvia companion plants. Hummingbirds appreciate a variety of favorite tubular-flowered plants.
  6. Plant hummingbird gardens near cover. Trees and bushes surrounding feeding areas provide protection from predators and chilly, rainy weather.
  7. Don't use pesticides. Insects provide protein for hummingbirds, so don't kill these food sources.
  8. Provide water. Hummingbirds frolic in misters and shallow birdbaths.
  9. Supplement plantings with feeder tubes. Change the sugar water every few days and don't add food coloring. Keep the feeders clean, but don't scrub them with soaps or detergents. Here is more feeder care information.
  10. Read more. Our Everything Salvias Blog offers a number of articles about hummingbirds.
Hey, got any greens?

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.


  1. Mask smells that deer like with aromatic sages. Deer and other members of the Cervidae family, such as elk, mostly leave Salvias alone. One theory is that they don't like the fragrance or taste of sage chemicals. Strategically planting sages near vegetable gardens or fruit trees -- elixir to deer -- may prevent consumption.
  2. Grow hedges including Salvias. Prickly hedges, including hairy-leafed Salvias and exceptionally thorny roses, can discourage deer from entering your yard. They don't like the mouth-feel of those textures. Tall hedges also hide strawberry beds and other yummy plantings from view.
  3. Don't overplant one species. Grow a variety of Salvias in case local deer take an unexpected liking to one species of sage.
  4. Fence deer out. Install electric fences or 8-foot wood or metal fences around particularly vulnerable areas. Make sure electric fencing is turned on during the peak feeding seasons of early spring and late fall.
  5. Use motion-detection tools. Install outdoor lighting that is activated by movement.
  6. Let the dogs out. Deer are especially wary of large dogs.
  7. Surround and cover. Wrap tough plastic around the trunks of trees that have tasty bark and cover foliage with bird netting when trees and bushes are fruiting.
  8. Change yard ornaments periodically. Objects such as scarecrows, statuary and cordons of monofilament string with strips of shiny foil attached cause deer to shy away.
  9. Make safe choices. Research repellants you plan to use to make sure they aren't poisonous.
  10. Be flexible and ready to share a bit. There is no such thing as a completely deer-resistant garden.