In the Garden

Salvias: Beautiful Flowers and Fragrant Foliage

Above photo: Autumn Sage, Salvia greggii ~ 

Most of us are familiar with culinary sage, Salvia officinalis, which grows well in this area as a hardy evergreen perennial. Culinary sage varieties are green, variegated green/yellow, or green/red, with savory foliage used for flavoring food. These flavorful herbs are grown in the ground or in containers.

Many landscape Salvias available at the garden centers provide both flowers and fragrant foliage. Some Salvias are annuals, re-seeders, perennials, and shrubs. Take a look at Salvias for sunny and shady areas in your landscape. Select from varieties of Salvia for fragrance foliage, flowers, flower color and plant size. Some Salvias flower all summer long. Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to these flowering Salvias.

Plant Salvia in a mass planting. Use borders and containers, as an accent and/or for cut flowers. Plant Salvias in sun or part-shade where soil has good drainage. Add compost to soil and keep a layer of mulch over the roots. Cut off spent flowers and prune any time to keep these fast-growing plants a reasonable size.

Mealy Blue Sage, Salvia farinacea, has small violet blue or white flowers on 10-inch-long spikes atop two- to three-foot-tall plants. Many varieties are available.

Autumn Sage, Salvia greggii, is one of my favorite Salvias because this plant flowers from the first warm days of spring to the first freeze in the fall. Many varieties are available in a wide range of colors, from bright red to white. I have a white border against my cabin and a red border along one side of my pond. The foliage is fragrant and semi-evergreen. These plants grow into a three-foot shrub and remain above ground during the winter. This Salvia grows in full sun or part-shade and requires excellent drainage.

Salvia “Indigo Spires” has dark blue-purple flowers on long stems throughout summer. This herbaceous perennial grows to 4.5 feet and is nearly as wide. Cut back during spring to encourage more growth. Cut back in fall after freeze.

Mexican Bush Sage, Salvia leucantha, has spectacular purple and white velvety flowers on long spikes from late summer until frost. Salvia leucantha does well in full sun and heat, and tolerates some drought once established. Hummingbirds and butterflies love this herbaceous perennial.

Hummingbird Slavia E 72
Salvia Guaranitica

Anise scented sage, Salvia guaranitica, grows to five feet with strong stems with extraordinary indigo-blue flowers on tall spikes from early to late summer. These plants attract hummingbirds.

If you like tea, grow Pineapple Sage, Salvia elegans, which has bright red flowers in late summer. The foliage has pineapple fragrance and flavor. The plant can grow about four feet tall

Scarlet Sage, Salvia coccinea, has bright red flowers in whorls on 10-inch spikes. Cut off spent flowers to encourage more flowers. This plant will drop seeds and germinate again in the spring.

Texas Sage, Leucophyllum frutescens, is a native evergreen shrub with silver-gray foliage and purple flowers. It can grow three- to six-feet wide and tall. Many varieties available. Plant it as shrub hedge or accent plant in perennial garden. Flower off and on throughout the summer

I have only named a few, but I have grown and enjoyed all these Salvias for many years.

Ask your garden centers for more information.


Dotty Woodson

Dotty Woodson has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Horticulture from Tarleton State University and a doctoral degree from Texas A&M and Texas Tech Universities for Agricultural Education, Communication, and Leadership. Woodson taught horticulture, irrigation, rainwater harvesting, and landscape water conservation by design, plant selection, and efficient irrigation efficiency for 35 years.

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