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.
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.
(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.
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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
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.