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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$14.50

(Rocketman Russian Sage) A cloud of cool, lavender-blue flowers shoot upward from the fine-leafed, gray-green foliage of Salvia yangii ‘Rocketman’. This is a shorter, more upright form of Russian Sage, which was known botanically as Perovskia atriplicifolia until 2019 when the species was reclassified as a Salvia.

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$16.50

(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.

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$12.50

(Red Betony) Heralding from the arid Southwest, this attractive and desirable perennial is one of the best hummingbird plants. Small pastel red/orange flowers make a real impact due to their numbers - this plant is often covered in flowers. And the furry leaves have a mild, fruity fragrance, especially in warm weather.

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