| (Siberian Sage) Deep violet flowers surrounded by burgundy bracts form a handsome contrast with the pebbly, mint green foliage of this drought-resistant sage. It comes from the Central Asian steppe, which is similar in climate and geography to America’s high plains. |
Cold and heat tolerant, this is an ideal plant for semi-arid, high-altitude areas such as the Rocky Mountain West. It is native to lands stretching from Eastern Europe into Central Asia. You can find Salvia stepposa in countries such as Afghanistan, China’s Xinjiang province, Iran and Kyrgyzstan.
Garden writer and researcher Noel Kingsbury describes Kyrgyzstan’s steppe country as being an ocean of Salvia, containing violet waves of Salvia stepposa. Kingsbury says it’s “like a vast garden border on a kind of overdrive.”
Also known as Salvia dumetorum and Siberian Sage, this summer bloomer is adaptable to both full sun and partial shade. It grows in almost any kind of soil that drains well and reaches sizes up to 48 inches tall and 24 inches wide, which makes it just right for butterfly-attracting borders on overdrive in your garden.
(Anatolian Cushion Sage) Rising up only 6 to 8 inches, this is a pixie-sized sage that loves gritty soils. It is perfect for dry gardens with gritty soils in USDA Zones 5 to 9. In fact, it seems to love the colder zones best. We think it is particularly fond of frozen ground in winter, because that helps keep its roots from getting too damp.
Salvia caespitosa is a challenging plant to photograph. Actually, its flowers are a translucent pale pink with rosy, golden bracts. Blooming from spring into summer, they are surprisingly large and angle upwards, rising above fine, gray-green leaves with serrated margins.
Native to the steppe lands of Southern Europe, this sage can be found in the Anatolia region of Turkey where winters are chilly and it grows in full sunshine. Plant it as a slow-growing groundcover, path edging or rock garden feature. As its name indicates, it forms a cushion-like mound.
(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.
Fragrance as well as color attracts butterflies. However, they don't have noses. Instead, butterflies smell and taste with their antennas and feet. Here are some ways to attract them:
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.