Sometimes, when defining a plant, it is helpful not only to say what it is but also what it is not. Herbaceous perennials are not woody. They have soft stems and die to the ground annually, sending up shoots again in the new growing season.
Although perennial generally refers to any plant that returns for more than two growing seasons, it is a term that the horticulture industry -- and our catalog -- primarily applies to herbaceous species even though the deciduous, woody Salvias also refresh annually.
In contrast to herbaceous perennial Salvias, the woody kinds of sage are referred to as shrubs and subshrubs. Shrubs are plants with stems that are woody overall. Sub-shrub Salvias combine woody and tender herbaceous stems.
Some Salvia species, such as Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii), are evergreen shrubs -- the kind that are in a constant state of foliage loss and renewal -- in warmer USDA zones and subshrubs in cooler parts of their range. But true herbaceous perennial Salvias almost always die to ground at the end of their growing season. End of season depends on whether an herbaceous perennial is dormant in winter or dormant in summer as with winter-growing species originating in Mediterranean climates.
Flowers by the Sea grows many herbaceous Salvias in a rainbow of flower colors and a wide variety of bloom times, including cold-hardy species from America, Asia and Europe. Others come from warmer climates, such as Africa, the American South, Central and South America, Mexico, the Mediterranean and South Africa.
One major way in which care of herbaceous species differs from that of woody sages concerns clean up. Whereas woody sages are hard pruned at the beginning of their growing season, the spent foliage of herbaceous species is removed at the end of their season. Also, many herbaceous species can be encouraged to bloom twice if pruned mid-season.
(Friendship Sage) Thank you Rolando Uria of the University of Buenos Aries for this very fine plant. Discovered in 2005 at a plant show in Argentina, this truly unique hybrid sage has generated a great deal of excitement in the Salvia world.
(Dancing Dolls Sage) Sages can be such tough plants. Many, such as Salvia 'Dancing Dolls', withstand heat and drought yet have delicate looking blossoms. Dancing Dolls features cream and rose bicolor flowers.
(Fancy Dancer Sage) Sages can be such tough plants withstanding heat and drought. Yet so many, including Salvia 'Fancy Dancer' have delicate looking blossoms. This one has bicolor flowers combining light and hot pink tones.
(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.
(Bitter Mexican Sage) Hummingbirds love this heat-tolerant Salvia, which is one of our best choices for shady, moist areas. The large-lipped, baby-blue flowers with white striations bloom from late summer through fall.
(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.
(Arizona Blue Sage) We are so impressed with this top-performing, drought-resistant ground cover that we have rated it best of class. Arizona Blue Sage is adaptable to a variety of shady conditions and blossoms so abundantly that it seems to have as many rich blue flowers as it has leaves. It is native to dry, shaded areas in mountain canyons in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
(Arizona Deep Blue Sage) In contrast to the lavender-blue flowers of Arizona Blue Sage (Salvia arizonica), the blossoms of Arizona Deep Blue are nearly purple. They are the kind of deep lavender that you might see in a southwestern sunset.
(Iranian Oil Sage) Butterflies and honeybees are drawn to the long blooming, dusky violet-blue flowers of Salvia atropatana. However, deer say no to its charms, due to its essential oils being less than tasty.
(Turkish Tea Sage) Sometimes an attractive plant is also medically powerful. That's true of the lavender flowered Salvia aucheri, which has strong white beelines. This Turkish native is consumed as an ingredient in teas used as folk remedies for many problems, including abdominal bloating and infections.
(Cut Leaf African Blue Sage) In botanical names, aurita means “ear shaped.” It’s the ear-like lobes of this sage’s leaves that give the species part of its name Salvia aurita ssp. galpinii. The cut leaf foliage is heavily lobed, mint green and lightly hairy.
(Austrian Sage) Tall spikes of large, pale yellow flowers rise up from Salvia austriaca’s basal rosette of impressively large leaves. Deeply lobed, like the edges of a lacy collar, the leaves are broader and longer than those of any Salvia we have ever grown.
(Prairie Sage) Native to a large part of the central United States, this perennial Salvia is a beloved wildflower, delighting us with large cerulean blue flowers. Hummingbirds and butterflies love it as well.
(Double Saw Tooth Sage) Vivid deep violet flowers bloom from summer into fall and contrast prettily with the bright green, rumply foliage of this tall sage from southeastern Mexico. Belgian botanist and orchid lover Jean Jules Linden was the first to record its discovery in 1838, according to records on file at Britain’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
(Eyelash Sage) All Salvia blepharophylla varieties are native to Mexico, but this one was hybridized in Germany by plant breeder Christiaan Unger. Hairs on the edge of the sageâs dark green leaves give it the appearance of having eyelashes. It is a compact, slightly mounding Salvia that spreads gradually by underground stolons.
(Diablo Eyelash Sage) Small, eyelash-like hairs on the edge of its leaves give this Mexican native part of its name. It earns "Diablo," which means "devil" in Spanish, from the two yellow stamens that stand up out of each flower like horns.
(Painted Lady Eyelash Sage) Small, eyelash-like hairs on the edge of its leaves give this Mexican native part of its name. A compact, gently mounding Salvia, it spreads gradually by underground stolons.
(Hummingbird Falls Anise-Scented Sage) Salvia BODACIOUS® ‘Hummingbird Falls’ is the world’s first hanging basket sage and a plant that hummingbirds battle over. It’s a natural alternative to plastic and glass nectar feeders that require frequent cleaning and refilling.
(Rhythm and Blues Anise-Scented Sage) The large, deep bluish-purple flowers of Salvia BODACIOUS ‘Rhythm and Blues’ are shaped like parrot beaks and supported by black calyxes. It's foliage smells sweet with a hint of licorice. It's superior to the old standby Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'.
(Smokey Jazz Anise-Scented Sage) The dusky black calyxes of Salvia BODACIOUS® ‘Smokey Jazz’ support large flowers shaped like parrot beaks the unique color of boysenberries — a hue between red and purple.
(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.
(Wand Sage) Whorls of deep violet blossoms are cupped by dark bracts on the flower spikes of this mid-height herbaceous sage from Turkey. Its 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.
(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 drought-resistant native of Spain will awe every visitor to your garden.