The mountains of Southern and Central China are rich in plant species, with new ones regularly being introduced to horticulture. Most Chinese Salvias are cold hardy herbaceous perennials; a number are heat tolerant as well. They thrive in partial shade, such as woodland gardens and locations with morning sun and afternoon shade. Some grow well in full shade.
Many of these sages are the subjects of modern medical research, because the Chinese have used them in herbal remedies for millennia. All the ones we grow and list here are reliable and beautiful.
Please note: Many of these are seed grown, and this group is especially prone to interspecific hybrids. So there may be variation in color, flower form and size.
(Himalayan Sage or Kashmir Sage) The word "hians" in Salvia hians means "gaping" and refers to the hanging lip of this sage's flowers, which bloom from late spring through early fall. This may or may not the "true" species as it is described, hence the term aff or affnis in the name, which indicates that this plant is related to, has an affinity to, but is not identical to Salvia hians.
(Nan dan shen) Lavender and pearly white blossoms shaped like parrot beaks are supported by burgundy and green calyxes on this cold-tolerant plant from Southern China. In summer, the flowers grow in whorl-like clusters on spikes reaching up to 5 feet tall above large, fuzzy, pinnate, olive-green leaves.
(Purple & Yellow Yunnan Sage or ji ye shu wei cao) Confusion about this plant's scientific name cause it to appear in some sources as Salvia flava var. megalantha. Whatever you call it, this Chinese species from Yunnan Province has enchanting yellow and purple flowers that attract viewers as well as honeybees.
(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.
(Chinese Sage) 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.
(Red Sage, Chinese Sage, Dan-shen) The bright red, finger-like roots of Salvia miltiorrhiza have a long history in traditional Chinese herbal medicine.
(Formosan Woodland Sage or Tai wan qin zhu cao) A native of Taiwan, this Salvia nipponica grows well in hot, humid climates as well as milder locales.
(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.
(Mystery Yunnan Sage) Sometimes we come across a beauty that has no name. This lovely species from China's Yunnan province is an excellent example. Aside from lacking scientific and common names, it arrived here as an imported seed with little information about how the plant was discovered.
(san ye shu wei cao) 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.
(Mellow Yellow Sage) Yellow-flowering Salvias always command attention in the garden. An intentional hybrid between the very rare and difficult to grow Salvia bulleyana and the energetic Salvia campanulata, this plant embodies the best characteristics of each parent.
(Yunnan Sage or yun nan shu wei cao) Yunnan Sage's tall spikes of violet-to-purple flowers bloom from summer into fall. Native to Southwestern China's provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan, it grows on shady, grassy hillsides and along forest margins at elevations up to 9,500 feet.