This plant is available only in the spring
(Strong Spanish Sage) Fuzzy green stems and bracts mature to burgundy on this lovely, lavender flowered sage that roughly doubles in height when blooming. Salvia valentina is a variety of the European native S. nemorosa, a Meadow Sage.
Strong Spanish Sage requires warmer winter temperatures than many other kinds of Meadow Sage. But that isn't surprising considering that it is a Spanish native endemic to the mild climate of Valencia on the Mediterranean coast.
This heat-tolerant perennial thrives in full sun to partial shade. It is adaptable to many kinds of soil as long as they drain well. Give it average watering based on local conditions.
Despite being easy to grow and having handsome foliage and lush, long blooming flower spikes, S. valentina isn't widely available. Yet it isn't a recent discovery.
Danish botanist Martin Henrichsen Vahl (1749-1804) gave the plant its scientific name in 1804 and published it in the Enumeratio Plantarum. Vahl was a professor at the University of Copenhagen and a former student of Carl Linnaeus, who is often called the father of botanical nomenclature.
We are grateful to José Quiles Hoya of the excellent Valencia, Spain, website Flora Silvestre del Mediterráneo for permission to reprint his photo of Salvia valentina in the wild.
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.
(Stem Clasping Violet Sage) Like a candelabra lit up with whorls of violet blossoms, the erect, branching flower spikes of Salvia amplexicaulis make this native of Southeastern Europe shine. On the Grecian island of Thassos, it brightens areas near the beach.
The summer-blooming flowers are nestled inside leaf-like burgundy bracts that attach directly to, or clasp, the flower stems without petioles. This gives the plant its common name. Its bright green, fragrant foliage has attractively bumpy, lance-shaped leaves. This sage is a good choice for perennial borders, woodland gardens and cut-flower beds.
Although S. amplexicaulis does fine with regular watering, it does love moisture. So it is an ideal choice for moist problem areas in the yard. Give it a setting with full sun to partial shade along with average garden soil that drains well. Deadhead the flowers to prolong bloom time and keep butterflies visiting. Speaking of wildlife, deer tend to avoid most sages including this one.
Here’s another reason to love this pretty plant: Scientists think that the essential oil of S. amplexicaulis may be useful in fighting bacterial infections.
Here is a link to a great set of pictures for this plant.
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.
(Candelabra Spanish Sage) Tall, well-branched spikes display large two-tone blue flowers above a compact shrubby mass of attractive, furry white leaves. When in bloom, this compact, drought-resistant native of Spain will awe every visitor to your garden.
Candelabra Spanish Sage is a rare beauty that does well in warm, dry locations and blooms abundantly from mid-summer through fall. It does well as a compact container plant or can grow up to 6 feet tall in the ground. We also highly recommend it as a border plant and for cut-flower gardens.
(Balkan Sage) Violet-blue whorls of flowers and plentiful, fuzzy, basal leaves that reach an impressive length of 18 inches are two notable features about this hardy, herbaceous perennial, which is native to the Southeastern Balkan Peninsula.
Balkan Sage is found in coniferous forests, meadows and slopes from Bulgaria to Turkey's Black Sea coast. However, it is named after the 19th century Finnish plant collector Peter Forsskål, who collected botanical samples further south in Saudi Arabia.
Although deciduous in areas with cold winters, it blooms about nine months a year for us on the Northern California coast beginning in summer. Following a brief winter dormancy, it returns reliably every spring, clumping in a way that makes it look like Hosta from a distance. Yet, unlike that woodland plant, it grows well in full sun as well partial shade. It is a fine choice for a lightly shaded garden or border and is happy in the acid soil under conifers.
Give it soil with average fertility, occasional water and enough shade to promote lush growth. Your reward will be large flowers with lovely white and yellow bee lines attractive to hummingbirds and honeybees.
(Greek Sage) Most of the dried culinary sage sold in the United States is Greek Sage. Frescoes on the island of Crete, dating to 1400 BC, depict this plant used by the Phoenicians and Greeks for cooking and medicine. It is an ancient and beloved friend of mankind.
In the garden, Greek Sage provides a pleasant lavender fragrance, especially on warm days, and has spikes of pink-to-lavender flowers. Similar to most culinary sages, it loves full sun and well-drained soil. However, it tolerates moist ground. This compact plant, which grows 24 inches tall and 18 inches wide, is a good choice for fragrant borders and patio containers as well as kitchen gardens.
Grow this drought-resistant, heat-tolerant plant in well-drained soil that is on the dry side. Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds will thank you with frequent visits.
Although some cooks find Salvia oficinalis culinary sages tastier, Salvia fruticosa is easier to grow. It comprises 50 to 95% of the commercial market. We think it offers an interesting change of taste.
(Jupiter's Distaff) Easy to grow and adaptable to a wide range of conditions, this native of Europe and Asia is our best tall, yellow-flowering perennial. Although its common name compares the flower spikes to wool spindles, they look more like glowing sceptres.
Honeybees and butterflies love this long-flowering, drought-resistant Salvia, which is found in a wide sweep of mountains from the Alps in Europe to the Himalayas in Asia. It has been used as a medicinal garden herb for millennia.
This sage does well in dry or moist conditions and in full sun or partial shade. Its bright yellow flowers and lush foliage blend well in mixed plantings, borders and cut flower arrangements.
(Royal Crimson Distinction Woodland Sage) Grown for hundreds of years in cottage gardens throughout the world, Salvia nemorosa was described by Carl Linneaus in 1762. This variety's large flower spikes bloom a dark violet-crimson, then age to a softer pink.
The species has experienced a great deal of breeding and improvement since the 1800s. Royal Crimson Distinction is one of the finest varieties we have seen to date. It tolerates the year-round warmth of Zone 9 as well as the winter chill of Zone 6
This water-loving sage blooms from spring through summer, attracting bumblebees, butterflies and hummingbirds, but not deer. It grows best in a sunny spot, but can tolerate partial shade. Plant it in well-drained soil with average fertility.
Long blooming and tough, this plant has become a mainstay of perennial borders worldwide. At 24 inches tall, it also works well as a groundcover or edging a path.
(Meadow Sage or Meadow Clary Sage) Meadow Sage is widespread in Europe, where it grows among other perennials and grasses. We use this plant in herbaceous borders, in containers, or anywhere we need a bright floral display with strong, dark green foliage.
Rose Rapsody sends up tall flower spikes featuring rich pink flowers. We think it to be the best of the pink Meadow Sages. Use this variety in mass for a spectacular seasonal display.
(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.
(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.
(Clary or Clear Eye Sage or Eyebright) Pink-purple bracts and violet-purple flowers form a pastel cloud over the large, rumpled leaves of Clary Sage in summer. It is a towering beauty growing up to 5 feet tall. Sacred to some due to age-old use in herbal remedies, it is heavenly to look at.
Depending on the nose of the gardener, its fragrance is either equally heavenly or hellishly rank like dirty socks. Personally, we enjoy Clary's musky aroma.
Native to the Mediterranean, Clary loves full sun and works well in dry gardens as a background planting. It's also a good choice for a kitchen garden, because it also has a long history of culinary use. If you enjoy its fragrance, it is a fine choice for borders, cut flower gardens and containers.
Clary is a biennial that blooms and dies the second year after it is planted. If you can tolerate snipping the lovely flower stalks before they wither, you can increase the plant's bloom. It reseeds, which means that you can expect new plants even though it isn't a perennial. Butterflies and honeybees love it, but deer leave it alone.
This is seed wild collected in Turkey, and is the most vigerous form we have encountered.
(Italian Clary Sage) Clary Sages are well known for their use in folk remedies, aromatherapy and cosmetics. Glowing purple bracts frame the spectacular white blooms of this cultivar on 5-foot-tall spikes. It is a delight for honeybees and butterflies.
The foot-long hairy leaves of this rosette-forming herbaceous perennial are striking for their symmetry and dark petioles.
Flowering begins in early summer; if you remove the spent spikes, bloom time continues until close to fall. Use Italian Clary Sage in perennial borders and background plantings.
The key to long-term success with this ancient species is to never allow seed to form. Pruning the spikes is a difficult choice, because the bracts are so showy. However, failure to do so results in a short -lived plant. The cut stems look pretty in flower arrangements.
Give this plant full sun and well-drained soil. Although it is drought resistant and works well in dry gardens, this sage responds well to average watering based on local conditions.
Clary Sage is native to Europe. It was one of the first Salvias described by the Ancient Greeks, who used it medicinally to make eye washes and other remedies. Although some gardeners disagree, our noses know that this plant's heady aroma is a blessing in the garden.
We highly recommend this plant as the best variety of its species.
(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.
(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!
(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.
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.