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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(Shinano-akigiri) Japan's largest island, Honshu, is home to Salvia koyamae, a shade- and moisture-loving herbaceous perennial that is perfect for woodland gardens or shady borders. It is notable for yellow flowers, which bloom from late summer into fall, as well as arrow-shaped foliage.

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(Oaxaca Orange Wooly Sage) Tall, eye-catching spikes of dusky red-orange flowers that bloom from summer into fall make this one of our most impressive Salvias. Plus it's cold hardy into Zone 7.

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(Saint Isidro's Sage) This hardy, lavender-blue-flowered Salvia comes from Southern Texas and has the same breeding as the famous Ultra Violet Autumn Sage. Although it needs warmer winter temperatures and has smaller foliage, it also does well in stressful conditions, including drought.

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(Ultra Violet Hybrid Sage) Hardy is a word bandied about by gardeners and nurserymen. Its use is often exaggerated. But this fine hybrid deserves to be called "the hardiest Autumn Sage." It's Zone-5 hardy, drought resistant and has lovely, soft purple flowers. Ultra Violet is a winner.

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(Purple Leaf Tall Big Leaf Sage) Bright green on top, the long leaves of this distinctive sage are a dark, furry purple on the undersides. Like the more typical green form of Salvia macrophylla, this variety has cobalt blue flowers that seem to float in airy clusters on 12-inch-tall branching spikes.

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(Creeping Big Leaf Sage) Cobalt blue flowers float in airy clusters above the giant, velvety, green leaves of this South American native. Short and spreading by woody rhizomes, this is an ideal groundcover. As a bold statement in a container, it has no equal.

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(Tall Big Leaf Sage) Cobalt blue flowers seem to float in airy clusters on 12-inch-tall branching spikes above the bright green, velvety foliage of this South American native. Up to 5-feet tall, tidy and upright in habit, this sage makes a fine background or border planting when massed.

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(Minty Kilimanjaro Sage) Leaf-like, fuzzy, violet bracts surround the 1-inch-long flowers of Salvia merjamie, which is native to the East African highlands from Ethiopia to Tanzania as well as Yemen and grows on Mount Kilimanjaro.
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(Limelight Mexican Sage) The chartreuse green calyxes and deep violet flowers of this sage form an electric combination that lights up the partial shade garden from late summer through fall. The light gray-green leaves are a handsome finishing touch.
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(Ocampo Mexican Sage) Growing from 7 to 10 feet tall each year, this is the largest of our Mexican Sages. Yet due to its erect form, this sage only spreads 36 inches. It has large, deep violet flowers with almost black calyxes that rise up on tall spikes and dark green, heavily veined foliage.

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(Querataro Mexican Sage) Pump it up! Salvia mexicana 'Querataro' is a Limelight Mexican Sage on steroids -- much larger all over and more vigorous. Honeybees and hummingbirds love its deep violet-blue flowers.
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(Russell's Mexican Sage) Expect rapid, tall growth from this Salvia Mexicana . In the ground, Russell’s Mexican Sage can reach up to 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide, providing an effective screen of dark green, heart-shaped foliage. By late autumn it’s bursting with flowers.

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(Byron's Mexican Sage) One of our favorite Mexican Sages, this large variety is reputed to be a hybrid between Salvia mexicana and S. hispanica -- a species of Chia Sage.

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(Black Stem Mountain Sage) Intense cardinal red flowers, stiff black stems and large, ribbed, green leaves make this Salvia microphylla stand out. Its color and upright growth make it dramatic amid a group of soft, rounded Salvias.

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(Flower Child Mountain Sage) At 18 to 24 inches tall, this is the smallest Salvia microphylla that we grow. Its common name is based on the plant's lavender-to-pink flowers, which are so abundant that they sometimes seem to outnumber the leaves.
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(Blast Pink Mountain Sage) Long blooming Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Blast' produces prolific quantities of large, dusky salmon-pink blossoms and dense, mid-green foliage.

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(Heatwave Red Mountain Sage) Compact and small, this Mountain Sage is another fine groundcover for Southern California, the Southwest and Texas. Similar to Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Glimmer', it not only survives but thrives in extreme heat.

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(Brilliance Pink Mountain Sage) Long blooming Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Brilliance' produces prolific quantities of deep reddish-pink, or cerise, blossoms along with dense, mid-green foliage.

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(Glimmering White Mountain Sage) Heatwave Glimmer isn't a mirage. It is a Salvia microphylla that tolerates extremely hot climates as well as cooler regions. It doesn't just survive; it thrives in the heat of Southern California, the Southwest and Texas.

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(Scorching Pink Mountain Sage) Compact and small, this Mountain Sage is another fine groundcover for Southern California, the Southwest and Texas. Similar to Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Glimmer', it not only survives but thrives in extreme heat.

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(Honey Rose Mountain Sage) So dark that they almost seem black, the stems of this Mountain Sage add drama to flowers the color of creamy tomato soup. The lush, mid-green foliage has distinctive ribbing and is stiffly upright; it makes a strong statement when grouped with soft, rounded Salvias.
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(Hot Lips Sage) What a winner for fascinating flowers! Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’ is a native of Mexico that produces a combination of solid red, solid white, and bicolor red and white blossoms all on the same plant and sometimes at the same time.

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(Trinity Mountain Sage) Heat and drought tolerant, this Salvia microphylla is native to Northeastern Mexico where summers are dry and temperatures can rise to more than 100 degrees F. It can survive winter temperatures down to 0 degrees.

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(Azure Hybrid Sage) Despite its name, the flowers of this tiny hybrid aren't really blue. They are a light purple. Due to its size, long bloom time, heat tolerance and drought resistance, Salvia x 'Mesa Azure' is a fine groundcover for areas where summers are hot and dry.

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(Big Orange Mountain Sage) When temperatures are cooler in spring and fall, the persimmon-orange flowers of this large Mountain Sage darken. Gray-green foliage, bright green calyxes and reddish-green stems add to the plant's fascinating look, which mixes well with yellows and blues.

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(People's Park Mountain Sage) Sometimes nature can be rebellious. This is one the Mountain Sages known as the Turbulent Sixties Series developed from an outlaw cultivar of the Southwestern native Salvia microphylla. Monterey Bay Nursery (MBN) named their accidental hybrid ‘Berzerkeley.’

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(Red Velvet Mountain Sage) This is one of the most intense red-flowering variety of Mountain Sage we grow. Medium-sized flowers are profuse on this large, vigorous plant -- particularly in spring and fall. Dark stems and calyxes intensify the plant's drama along with glossy green foliage.

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(Royal Bumble Mountain Sage) Almost black, the stems and calyxes of this UK hybrid form a pleasing contrast with its medium-size scarlet flowers and glossy green leaves. Bloom time is spring to fall. This Mountain Sage suckers freely and forms a dense clump.

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(St. Charles Day Mountain Sage) Especially in spring and fall, masses of red-violet flowers bloom amid the silvery green foliage of Salvia microphylla 'San Carlos Festival'. Put this one into the "must have" column.

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(Telegraph Avenue Dwarf Mountain Sage) Here’s another member of the Turbulent Sixties Series of Southwestern Mountain Sages (Salvia microphylla), which developed from one of nature’s rebels – an accidental hybrid that Monterey Bay Nursery (MBN) named ‘Berzerkeley’ after finding it taking a stand in the nursery’s gravel paving.

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