Most people visualize deserts and dry, sandy soil when thinking about sage (Salvia spp.). Although many Salvias are drought resistant and thrive in dry gardens, others prefer regular, and even daily. Some even tolerate persistently damp soil.
The phrases moisture loving and water loving often conjure visions of aquatic and marshland plants, yet there are few Salvias that fit into that group. Bog Sage (Salvia uliginosa) is one, although we've received reports that it also tolerates dry conditions. However, when we say that a sage is moisture loving, we usually mean one that can handle significant dampness but needs better drainage than marsh plants. An example would be the Anise Leaf Sages (Salvia guaranitica spp.). Plants that can swing from average water consumption to enduring severe downpours are particularly valuable in the Southeast.
Persistently wet soil can make it difficult for sufficient oxygen to reach roots. This causes plants to suffocate. It can also cause conditions such as chlorosis in which foliage turns yellow, limp and incapable of the photosynthesis necessary to manufacture food for the plant.
Yet there are lovely Salvias which cheerfully photosynthesize in conditions that would drown their close relatives. Most come from Central and South American rainforests or damp woodlands in Asia.
Flowers by the Sea strives to meet the needs of Salvia fans from widely varying climates, whether dry, wet or in between.
(Island Pitcher Sage) Native to shady canyons on the coast of Southern California's Channel Islands, this threatened species is highly desirable for its ruggedness, its aromatic furry leaves and its spectacular pink flowers.
(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.
(Amethyst Sage) Growing up to 12 inches long, the triangular basal leaves of Salvia amethystina subsp. ampelophylla are the largest we know among sages. They have long silky hairs on their undersides and are fragrant when bruised.
(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.
(Tree Sage)Whether you call it a shrub or a tree, Salvia arborsecens rises up to an impressive 12 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Commonly known as Sage Tree, this Salvia grows well in full sun, but prefers partial shade.
(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'.
(Heart Leaf Sage) From the rich plains of Northern Argentina comes this delicate looking sage with heart-shaped leaves and pale blue flowers so perfect they seem to be molded in wax. Although a slow grower that requires good garden culture, this Salvia is exquisite.
(Cayman Island Sage) Compact and intensely fragrant, this shrubby sage is excellent for containers or the edge of a pathway. Small blue and white flowers mass about its densely branched foliage. It loves rich, moist soil and warm weather.
(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.
(Cinnabar Sage) Think of this plant as Pineapple Sage on steroids. It grows 5 feet tall and can be twice as wide and bursts with large, intensely red, furry flowers all winter. Our overwintering hummingbirds adore it. This cinnabar-red sage is hard to forget once you see it in full bloom.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(Columbian Mountain Sage) Deep purple bracts support the small, lighter purple flowers of Salvia cuatrecasana, which is a rare Colombian sage. White beelines mark the flowers of this long-blooming shrub, which is a hummingbird favorite.
(Pink Tehuacan Sage) Large clusters of big, fuzzy, hot magenta-pink flowers top the elegant foliage of this Mexican sage. It is long blooming beginning in late spring and does well in full sun or partial shade. We want to help spread this rare sage that deserves to be widely planted.
(Giant Bolivian Sage) Hailing from Peru and Bolivia, this tender specimen is found at altitudes of 9,000 feet in the wild. This multi-stemmed, woody-based, climbing Salvia needs support. Hummingbirds love its 5-inch-long, crimson flowers, which are the longest grown by any Salvia and flower from late summer through autumn.
(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).
(Makino) We would grow this rare clone of the woodland Japanese native Salvia glabrescens even if it never flowered, because the arrow-shaped foliage is so lush, toothed and colorful. As they age, the arrow-shaped leaves transform from yellowish green to dark green.
(Gravid Sage) This tender perennial from Michoacan, Mexico, has large, rich magenta flowers that hang from the arching branches in clusters up to 12 inches long. Growing up to 5 feet tall, this sage offers an unforgettable display when in bloom.