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Salvia trijuga


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  • Cultural Icons

  • Colors

  • Pruning

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  • Attracting Butterflies

  • Deer Tips

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Description

So what do all those Pinyin words mean in this sage’s common name? We’ll give you an answer to the best of our ability in a minute. Meanwhile, we need to note that this medicinal Asian sage has handsome foliage and deep violet flowers.

The flower spikes bloom from summer to fall, attracting butterflies. This sage loves shade and water. Cold and heat tolerant, it grows well in USDA Zones 5 to 9.

Give it rich, well-drained soil similar to the kind where it is found in the wild. San ye shu wei cao grows along the margins of high-altitude forests that border grassy hillsides in Southwestern China. Its dark green, basal leaves are oval-to-heart shaped with pretty, scalloped margins. The foliage mound rises up 24 to 32 inches and spreads about the same distance.

Good uses include plantings in moist areas such as woodland gardens. This perennial sage also shows well in borders, along pathways where you can see it up close and as a groundcover.

Current medical research indicates that chemicals in this plant’s bright red taproots may be effective in battling liver cancer. Similar to many Asian sages, it has a long history of use in herbal remedies. The substances in its roots are used for a variety of medical purposes, including strengthening the immune system, stimulating circulation, soothing the mind, relieving restlessness and improving blood flow to the brain.

We don’t speak Chinese, but after a bit of searching, we discovered that the phrase ‘shu wei cao’ refers to sage. ‘San’ means ‘three’ and ‘ye’ means leaf. So it’s a three-leafed sage, which means that there are three leaves on each petiole.

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Common name  
san ye shu wei cao
USDA Zones  
5 - 9
Size (h/w/fh)  
24"/28"/32"
Exposure  
Partial to full shade
Soil type  
Well drained & rich
Water needs  
Average
Pot size  
3 1/2 inch deep pot
Container plant?  
Yes
Our price
12.50

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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

Heat tolerant
Heat tolerant
Morning sun / Afternoon shade
Morning sun / Afternoon shade
Partial shade
Partial shade

Garden Uses

Medicinal herb
Medicinal herb

Growing Habit

5 - 9
5 - 9
24 inches tall
24 inches tall
28 inches wide
28 inches wide
Perennial
Perennial

Water Needs

Average water
Average water
Water loving
Water loving

Blooming Season

Summer blooming
Summer blooming

Wildlife

Butterflies
Butterflies
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 - Strong Purple
RHS# 77B



Secondary color - Deep Reddish Purple
RHS# 77A






Throat color - Yellowish white - RHS# 155B




Tertiary color - Yellowish white
RHS# 155B



Bract color - Moderate Yellowish Green
RHS# 139C

Leaf color - Dark Yellowish Green
RHS# 189A



Learn more about how we analyze plant colors
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 campanulata

    (Campanula Leaf Sage) Spectacular yellow-flowering Salvias are rare, so this one stands out. Its large, almost round leaves form a basal clump that is attractive and tough. Bright yellow flowers arise from the clump on stems up to 48 inches tall.

    This hardy herbaceous perennial comes from the mountains of Central China and is rarely seen in the United States. We highly recommend this moisture-tolerant plant for shady perennial borders and woodland-style gardens.

    12.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia chinensis 'Nanjinga'

    Although this is a perennial species, most people in the U.S. who are familiar with Chinese Sage, probably know the annual variety Salvia chinensis . The perennial form is reliable; we’ve grown it for several years. However, little has been written about it.

    We’d love to hear from you if you grow perennial Chinese Sage. Aside from its profuse panicles of dusky, mid-blue blossoms that bloom in summer, this medium-sized sage has striking foliage. The leaves have hairy bottoms and topsides that are glossy dark green with a purple sheen.

    Water loving and heat tolerant, Chinese Sage is a particularly good choice for areas with humid, hot summers. The perennial form tolerates morning sunshine combined with afternoon shade, but prefers either full day partial or full shade. Give it rich, well-drained soil.

    Perennial Chinese Sage works well as a groundcover or in a perennial border or woodland garden. Use it in moist parts of your yard. We have discovered that honeybees love it. However, similar to most sages, deer avoid it.

    To the best of our knowledge, this is the correct name for this plant.

    12.50

    OUT OF STOCK

    New!
  • Salvia glabrescens 'Elk Yellow & Purple'

    (Makino) The unusual flower color and short, mounding growth of this clone of Salvia glabrascens -- a woodland Japanese native -- make it distinctive. The blossoms are nearly clear yellow with striking purple beelines.

    This is a good choice for moist, shady garden spots, but can take a bit of morning sun. Makino cultivars are hardy as long as they receive plenty of shade, water and soil that is rich and well-drained. In autumn, short flower spikes rise out of compact, basal foliage, creating a gracefully proportioned look.

    This herbaceous sage should be seen up close both for its extraordinary flowers and lush foliage. Plant it in a container, along a shady pathway or as a woodland groundcover. Although slow growing, this tough yet lovely sage is worth the wait. Fortunately, deer don't like it.

    15.00
  • Salvia glabrescens 'Shi Ho'

    (Makino) We would grow this rare clone of the woodland Japanese native Salvia glabrescens even if it never flowered, because the hairless, arrow-shaped foliage is so lush, toothed and colorful. As they age, the arrow-shaped leaves transform from yellowish green to dark green.

    This is a plant for moist, shady garden spots, but can take a bit of morning sun. It is hardy as long as it receives plenty of shade, water and soil that is rich and well-drained. In autumn, short spikes of small, pink and purple two-tone flowers rise out of compact basal foliage, creating a gracefully proportioned look.

      Makino should be seen up close both for its extraordinary flowers and lush foliage. Plant it in a container, along a shady pathway or as a woodland groundcover. Although slow growing, this tough yet lovely sage is worth the wait. Fortunately, deer don't like it.

    15.00
  • Salvia japonica

    (Japanese Woodland Sage or Shu Wei Cao) This short, lavender-flowered, ornamental sage has purple-to-green foliage. In Asia, this woodland plant has long been an important medicinal herb, used in the treatment of conditions such as diabetes.

    Aside from being pretty, the foliage of Salvia japonica has been eaten during times of famine. In addition to Japan, it is found in Korea, China and Taiwan.

    Although its 24-inch spikes of airy flowers are pretty, it is the richly purpled new growth of this mounding sage that particularly attracts attention as a groundcover or border edging. Give it moist, rich soil and partial shade.

    11.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia koyamae

    (Shinano-akigiri) Japan's largest island, Honshu, is home to Salvia koyamae, a shade- and moisture-loving herbaceous perennial. It is notable for arrow-shaped foliage and translucent, yellow flowers blooming from late summer into fall.

    Large and lush, the yellow-green hairy leaves of this sage form loose, gently spreading clumps. Although it can tolerate some morning sun, this is a shade-loving sage. It is a hardy choice for shady groundcovers, borders, containers, woodland settings and moist areas.

    An underused gem of a plant, Salvia koyamae and presents the added bonus of being disagreeable to deer. Highly recommended.

    10.50
  • Salvia miltiorrhiza

    (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.

    12.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia nipponica 'Fuji Snow'

    (Variegated Japanese Woodland Sage) Irregular white margins surrounding deep green make the triangular leaves of this fine Japanese forest sage lighten the shade. In fall, pale yellow flowers add to the standout effect.

    Pennsylvania plantsman Barry Yinger, who specializes in Asian plants, deserves thanks for introducing this heat-tolerant, cold-hardy clone from Japan. In America, it thrives in USDA Zones 6 to 9.

    Similar to other varieties of Japanese Woodland Sage, this one thrives in many kinds of shade including full shade and settings where morning sun and afternoon shade are available. Give it plenty of water and rich, well-drained soil.

    Aside from being a fine container plant, this sage works well in perennial borders, along a path and as groundcover.
    10.50
  • Salvia nubicola

    (Himalayan Cloud Sage) Nepal's Muktinath Valley -- a sacred site for Hindus and Buddhists -- is the place to go to see this majestically tall shade perennial in the wild. It grows at altitudes up to 14,000 feet and often emerges while the ground is still snowy.

    The creamy yellow flowers have thin purple markings and bloom throughout summer. They grow about 1 to 1 1/2 inches long on flower spikes that rise up 4 feet or taller by late summer. 

    In America, this fragrant, cold-hardy sage is adaptable from USDA Zone 5 to 10. In cooler climates, it grows well in full sun whereas a bit of shade is best In warmer zones. We find that it thrives in rich, well-drained garden soil with ample water. However, it is resilient and survives in less than ideal conditions.

    Use this sage in mixed perennial borders and moist woodland gardens. It is also eye-catching as an accent plant and sensual due to its fragrance. You might want to try it in locations where you are likely to brush against it, such as an entryway. 

    We love and highly recommend this one. Demand often exceeds supply; deer resist it, but customers can't.
     

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia przewalskii var. mandarinorum

    (Dan-shen Gansu) Growing into a large basal rosette of leaves measuring up to 3 feet across, Salvia przewalskii var. mandarinorum is known for its handsome foliage.

    In summer, tall spikes of rich purple flowers rise above the large, wrinkled leaves, which are yellow-green on top and wooly, rusty brown underneath.

    The scientific name of this species honors Nikolay Przhevalsky, a Polish-Russian geographer whose 19th century explorations of Asia increased knowledge about the continent's plants and wildlife. This sage is a traditional medicinal herb from the mountains of Central China. Its therapeutic herbal uses are similar to those of Salvia miltiorrhiza, which is commonly known as Dan-shen.

    This tough sage does best in partial shade in USDA Zones 4 to 9. It grows slowly, but eventually reaches 24 to 48 inches tall and 36 inches wide. Although this woodland plant only needs average watering that is based on local conditions, it also handles damp spots. It can be grown as a groundcover, container plant, edging or part of a perennial border.

    Highly recommended.

    12.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia sp. from Szechuan

    (Bicolor Szechuan Sage) Cold hardy Chinese Salvias are a large and confusing group when it comes to scientific nomenclature. Identification for naming is expensive and difficult. That is why one of our most popular varieties doesn't have a scientific name!

    Collected in the mountains of Szechuan, China, and cataloged by the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, this is a spectacular bicolor perennial that grows well in USDA Zones 5 to 9. A halo of velvety hairs surrounds the 1-inch-long flowers, which have a purple upper lip and a yellow lower lip spotted and striped with purple. At our Northern California farm, they bloom for us all summer.

    The large, arrow-shaped leaves are also furry. They form a tough yet attractive basal clump. Branched stems rise from the leaves to heights up to four feet tall. Late in the season, the dark bracts add a dramatic touch to borders and pathway edges.

    Although it does fine with average watering, this is a moisture-loving sage that does well in damp locations, including woodland gardens. We have grown it in full sun, full shade and partial shade. The latter setting has provided greatest success.

    This species may be a hybrid, because it has never set viable seed for us.

    Highly recommended and very limited!
    15.00
  • Arisaema ciliatum

    (Himalayan Cobra Lily) Although significantly shorter than Arisaema consanguineum, this woodland species also has radial leaves like the spokes in an umbrella. We offer you well-established clumps that will reward you by blooming the first year you plant them.

    The plant's spathe, which is purple to maroon with cream stripes, is a leaf-like blossom that wraps around and hangs over the plant's greenish, finger-like spadix. Mid-green foliage spreads out at the top of the plant's stalk, which is called a psuedostem.

    Give this plant full sun to partial shade and rich, well-drained soil. It survives chilly winters.

    Most Arisaemas are from Asia where they are known as Cobra Lilies. This one is native to China's Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces. In contrast, North American species of Arisaemas are commonly called Jack in the Pulpit, with the spathe being likened to a lectern.

    Arisaemas are used medically in herbal formulas, but should be carefully processed for safe consumption.

    17.00
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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

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:


  1. Plant sages with platform-type blossoms. Unlike hummingbirds, butterflies can't hover while feeding. Sages with large lower lips and short nectar tubes, such as those in the Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) and Mountain Sage (S. microphylla) group, give butterflies a place to stand while gathering nectar and pollen.
  2. Provide lots of color and sunlight. Butterflies need to stay warm and are attracted to a broad range of flower colors.
  3. Include native species. Insects and plants have co-evolved to meet each other's needs within their native regions. Butterflies prefer feeding on their local, native perennials and shrubs.
  4. Grow Caterpillar Host Plants. Butterflies need baby nurseries. Some are extremely picky about the plants on which they lay eggs, such as Monarchs, which need milkweeds (Asclepias spp.). The North American Butterfly Association is a good source of information about host plants.
  5. Don't use pesticides. They kill many beneficial insects, including butterflies.
  6. Keep your garden blooming. Plant a variety of Salvias based on bloom times as well as color and shape. Many flower from spring into fall. Others are prolific fountains of nectar for shorter seasons.
  7. Provide puddles. Butterflies stay hydrated by splashing in puddles located in sunny spots on the ground or raised up in shallow birdbaths. Include rocks for basking; butterflies need to dry and warm their wings.
  8. Plant butterfly gardens near shelter. Butterflies need to be able to flee into trees, shrubbery and woodpiles when predators appear and when windy or rainy weather occurs.
  9. Supplement plantings with rotten fruit. Some butterflies love the juice of rotting fruit even more than nectar.
  10. Read more. Our Everything Salvias Blog offers a number of articles about butterflies.

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.