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 You are here    Flowers by the Sea / Categories / Salvias by Use / Herbaceous Perennials
Herbaceous Perennials
Herbaceous Perennials

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.

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(Chiapas Sage) This partial-shade Salvia produces magenta flowers year round for us on the Mendocino Coast. It's compact, free flowering and not bothered by pests whether large or small. It is native to Mexico's coastal mountains at an elevation of 7,000 to 9,500 feet.
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(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.

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(Golden Leaf Sage) A tinge of gold in its fuzzy, pebbled foliage gives Salvia chrysophylla its common name. Abundant lavender flowers with pale cream lower lips make it stand out in the landscape.

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(Michoacan Blue Sage) This unusual and distinctive Mexican sage grows from tuberous roots. It is compact and decidedly vertical with strong, square, winged stems that rocket upward and are topped with clusters of rich blue flowers in large rosy bracts come autumn.

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(Coral Nymph Tropical Sage) What a cutie! This award-winning cultivar of Tropical Sage is short and compact yet has a multitude of pastel salmon flowers larger than those of its bigger cousins. It is perfect for annual flower beds or patio containers.

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(Forest Fire Tropical Sage) Butterflies love the abundant, fire engine red flowers of this mostly annual sage. It's a popular cultivar of one of the first Salvias used for ornamental purposes -- Tropical Sage. The flowers are dramatically framed by reddish black bracts.

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(Lady in Red Tropical Sage) Lady in Red is a variety of Salvia coccinea Juss. ex Murray, which is often called Texas Sage. It is the best red-flowering Tropical Sage that we grow.

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(Snow Nymph White Tropical Sage) Butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees enjoy this award winner, which is an outstanding choice for pure white color from June to autumn. This type of Tropical Sage is generally the first to flower for us.

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(Summer Jewel Pink Tropical Sage) Butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees enjoy this Fleuroselect Gold Medal winner, which is an outstanding choice for bright pink & white color from June to autumn. This type of Tropical Sage is generally the first to flower for us.

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(Summer Jewel Red Tropical Sage) Butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees enjoy this Fleuroselect Gold Medal winner, which is an outstanding choice for bright red color from June to autumn. This type of Tropical Sage is generally the first to flower for us.

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(Summer Jewel White Tropical Sage) Butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees enjoy this All American 2016 winner, which is an outstanding choice for pure white color from June to autumn. The Summer Jewel varieties of Tropical Sage is generally the first to flower for us.

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(COOL Fandango Anise Scented Sage) A combination of dark, rosy bracts and magenta blossoms make Salvia COOL Fandango dance. It’s vivid, floriferous, and a hummingbird favorite.

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(COOL Lavender Blush Anise Scented Sage) Dusky green and red-edged bracts surround the pale-throated lavender blossoms of Salvia COOL Lavender Blush.  It's a magnet for hummingbirds.

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(COOL Lavender Mist Anise Scented Sage) Bright green bracts and rich lavender blossoms sing in Salvia COOL Lavender Mist. Hummingbirds keep this bountiful bloomer buzzing.

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(Blue Turkish Sage) Large velvety gray-green to white leaves in loose rosettes give this sage a distinctive look as does the celestial violet-blue of its flowers. The blossoms seem much too large for this short sage and its thin, candelabra-branched flower spikes.

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(Vermilion Bluffs® Mexican Sage) The brilliant red flowers of Vermilion Bluffs bloom abundantly from August to October. This variety of the Mexican native Salvia darcyi is cold hardy to Zone 5b at altitudes up to 5,500 feet.

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(xin jiang shu wei cao) Long, branched spikes of blue-purple flowers with distinctive purple-red bracts makes this a showy garden plant. It is also well known as a medicinal sage in its Asian homelands.
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(Elk Super Scarlet Rooster Sage) From the mountains of Mexico we have this stunning Sage, which seems never to be out of bloom. A superior hummingbird plant, the warm orange flowers that cover this shrubby perennial make it a standout in the garden.

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(Frieda Dixon Pineapple Sage) Most varieties of Salvia elegans have bright red flowers. But Frieda Dixon Pineapple Sage, which blooms abundantly beginning in late fall, has softer salmon-pink blossoms set against mid-green, lance-shaped leaves.

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(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.

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(Elk Dwarf 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 western Asia. This is an extremely compact variety with dark green leaves, quite different in appearance compared with the common species.
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(Cabrillo Giant Yellow Sage) Large apricot-yellow flowers are an attraction of this cross between two Mexican species -- Salvia madrensis (Forsythia Sage) and the volcanic sage Salvia gesneriiflora (Mexican Scarlet Sage).

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(Makino) The unusual flower color and short, mounding growth of this clone of Salvia glabrascens -- a woodland Japanese native -- make it distinctive. The blossoms are nearly clear yellow with striking purple beelines.
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(Pink Makino) The gracefully shaped, two-tone flowers of Pink Makino look like ballerinas in tutus. This shade-loving sage comes from moist, mountain woodlands on the Japanese island of Honshu. In Northern California, it blooms for us in late fall.
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