(River Sage) Native to partially shaded stream-sides in Argentina and Bolivia, this is one of the few Salvia species that can tolerate wet soil. It makes a fine filler plant in a group of other partial shade growers, its wirey thin stems sending up floral displays here and there, much to the gardener's delight.
In contrast with some of the flashy, brilliantly colored Mexican Sages River Sage is small and quiet. It is a perfect filler lant in containers, and brings together more distinctive elements in a mixed border.
The variety we offer is clonal, a selection from the subspecies rypara 'Cuesta del Obispo strain collected in Northwest Argentina by Rolando Uria.
These are species that produce woody stems, but die back to the ground in the winter in all but the warmest climates. In warm winter areas these can become woody shrubs, but they generally benefit from the following pruning methods.
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.
(Black & Blue Anise-Scented Sage) Hummingbirds go crazy for this variety of Salvia guaranitica. The black calyxes contrast handsomely with the rich, royal blue flowers.
Grow this variety as an aromatic border plant in full sun and well drained soil. It appreciates regular moisture and fertile soil, but can survive moderate stress from shortages of either. The thick dahlia-like tuberous roots, which survive well into Zone 7, are reliable and long lived.
In case you are unfamiliar with anise, it smells like licorice.
We highly recommend the much improved Salvia BODACIOUS 'Rhythm and Blues' as an alternative to this older variety.
(Bitter Mexican Sage) Hummingbirds love this heat-tolerant Salvia, which is one of our best choices for shady, moist areas. The large-lipped, baby-blue flowers with white striations bloom from late summer through fall.
This compact shrub grows well in the garden or in a container, especially where it will receive morning sun and afternoon shade or partial shade all day. In its native Mexico, it is used as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments. We love its grace and beauty in the garden!
(Heart Leaf Sage) From the rich plains of Northern Argentina comes this delicate looking sage with heart-shaped leaves and pale blue flowers so perfect they seem to be molded in wax. Although a slow grower that requires good garden culture, this Salvia is exquisite.
Heart Leaf Sage needs fertile soil that is rich in humus and well drained. It grows well in the ground or in a container. Site it in a warm, sunny spot where it can receive partial shade and no reflected heat. Water and fertilize well. Be patient, as it seems to take a year or more to settle in and become robust. Then sit back and enjoy the lovely foliage and 1-inch-long, striped flowers.
This perennial sage was found by Rolando Uría in Chaco, Argentina in 2009 and is one of the rarest Salvias in the world. It is quite slow to increase, but we highly recommend its beauty.
(Argentina Skies Anise-Scented Sage) PLEASE NOTE: A superior variety, 'Elk Argentina Skies' is now available.
The licorice-like fragrance of its foliage and the big whorls of large, sky blue flowers make this a stand-out sage. Tall and wide, it forms a tidy, long blooming background, screen or border.
Unlike many Salvia guaranitica clones, Argentina Skies clumps but does not grow by runners. This water-loving sage does well in full sun or partial shade and appreciates fertile soil. Butterflies and hummingbirds love it, but deer do not.
Charles O. Cresson, who teaches at Pennsylvania's Longwood Gardens and is the author of three books in the Burpee American Garden Series, originated Argentina Skies Anise-Scented Sage. He first described the plant and published its scientific name in the September 1990 issue of 'The Garden', a publication of the Royal Horticultural Society.
Cresson says he grew his popular sage from seed he received in the 1980s from a light blue flowered S. guaranitica found in the wild near Buenos Aires.
Overall, Salvia guaranitica species are colorful, long blooming, dependable and adaptable to a wide range of regions. Argentina Skies is one of the most cold-hardy varieties.
(Sapphire Blue Anise-Scented Sage) The large, sapphire blue flowers of this Anise-Scented Sage glow in the full-sun or partial-shade garden from summer into fall. Similar to Salvia guaranitica 'Blue Ensign', this is a shorter variety of the water-loving species.
Hummingbirds, honeybees and butterflies all enjoy Sapphire Blue. Group it front of border with the taller Blue Ensign in the middle and Argentine Skies Anise-Scented Sage at the back for an intensely blue display.
Sapphire Blue also looks handsome paired with its cousin, Salvia rhinosina, another sage from the plains of Argentina.
(Big Swing Sage) With its large, cobalt blue flowers displayed on strong, wiry, branched stems, this eye-catching sage wins the FBTS "best of class" designation for being our top Big Leaf Sage (Salvia macrophylla).
Garden writer Betsy Clebsch developed Big Swing, which is a cross between Big Leaf Sage and Arrowleaf Sage (S. sagitata). Its flower spikes rise well above handsome foliage with large, furry, arrowhead-shaped leaves that look almost tropical.
Use this heat-tolerant plant to bring a lush look to a damp corner of your garden or in mixed patio containers. Give it rich, well-drained soil and plenty of water for a long bloom season.
Big Swing comes highly recommended by butterflies, but deer leave it alone.
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.