Salvia Small Talk: Annual, Biennial, Perennial
Botanical terminology can be confusing, such as in the question of whether a plant is an annual, biennial or perennial. 'Say what?' newborn gardeners may ask. If you're pondering this matter, here are some basics.
Annual. This is a plant that usually flowers gloriously and almost always dies at the end of its growing season or when frost kills it. Some annuals reseed and then come back the following growing season. However, if the parent plant was a hybrid, none of the seeded offspring are likely to look exactly like the original. With sages, most annuals are tender perennials, but we'll get to that in a minute. Example: Summer Jewel Lavender Tropical Sage (Salvia coccinea 'Summer Jewel Lavender')
Biennial. These are less common than annuals and perennials. A biennial puts its effort into producing foliage the first year it is planted and flowers from the second year forward. Example: Italian Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea var. turkestanica 'Piemont')
Perennial. Although they don't live forever, perennials do persist for a long time and bloom year after year. Some perennial sages are shrubby, such as Big Grape Sage (Salvia keerli), while others -- such as our Asian natives -- are referred to as herbaceous, because they aren't woody and their foliage dies back to the ground during winter. Perennials also encompass Salvia subshrubs -- ones that have herbaceous and woody growth -- and tender perennials, which are cold-sensitive perennials grown as annuals in areas with chilly winters such as the Dwarf Scarlet Sage mentioned above as an annual.
More questions? More confusion? Please, please contact us and we will do our best to clarify matters and help you glide up the learning curve.