In my garden, this is the year of the salvia. I deem it so.
Why the year of the salvia? Two reasons: So many new varieties are on the market, and they are so easy to grow in Oklahoma. That’s why I’ve written about salvias before in three salvias to salivate over and the bold and the beautiful.
Don’t poo-poo easy-to-grow things. Trust me. In our climate, you’re going to need them.
First, the sciency stuff.
According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, “Salvia is a genus of over 900 species of annuals, biennials, herbaceous and evergreen perennials, and shrubs.
“The genus name Salvia comes from the Latin word salveo meaning “to save or heal” in reference to the purported medically curative properties attributed to some plants in the genus.”
Favorite types of salvia
If I wanted to sound more professional, I might write favorite salvia species, but whatever.
Salvia farinacea, mealy blue sage, is, hands down, my favorite salvia group.
Why? Because they are easy peasy and have the most beautiful silvery, blue-green foliage that doesn’t have leaf spot. Most are also hardy to Zone 7. In recent years, there have been many new introductions. Some of the hybrids don’t overwinter in my garden while others do.
- ‘Victoria Blue’ was my first introduction. There are now so many more.
- ‘Sirius Blue‘ is new to me this year. It has a tiny white dot on the flowers and is dark blue. I started it from seed in March. It was a slow grower, but I have now planted it in the cutting garden.
- ‘Henry Duelberg‘ and ‘Augusta Duelberg‘ (white flowers) were both found in a Texas cemetery by Greg Grant. Both grow taller than some other varieties.
- Indigo Spires Blue, technically S. longispicata x farinacea, isn’t hardy in my climate, but it’s such a great big, and beautiful plant with exquisite spikes. It grows 3-4′ tall an 1-2′ wide. There’s also ‘Mystic Spires Blue’ and an improved version too. The improved Mystic Spires Blue is more blue and has cleaner spikes.
- ‘Texas Violet’ is one I added to my garden bed facing the street last year. It is purple and grows to the same size as Indigo Spires. It is up and growing and should put on an even better performance this year.
- Pale blue Cathedral™ Sky Blue is a beauty if you can find it.
- ‘Strata’ is a bi-colored variety. I’m not growing it right now.
The Wish hybrid salvias are my next favorite group.
These fancy salvia hybrids don’t overwinter in my garden, but they are late bloomers and provide great structure. The series was created to benefit the Make-a-Wish® Foundation in Australia, and all varieties attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.
- My love affair started years ago with ‘Wendy’s Wish.’ The growth habit reminds me of S. splendens ‘Vanhouettei,’ but ‘Wendy’s Wish’ is a hybrid and is protected by patent. You should be able to find it locally as it is quite popular now.
- Ember’s Wish was my second plant in this group. It goes splendidly with ‘Oklahoma Salmon’ and ‘Zinderella Peach’ zinnias.
- This year, I ordered ‘Kisses and Wishes.’
- Dark purple Love and Wishes is quite beautiful too.
Salvia guaranitica is a big presence wherever you put them.
Some of this group is hardy to Zone 7 and sometimes a little colder, and others aren’t. Check tags if this matters to you.
- I bought two plants of ‘Hummingbird Falls’ for containers. They have a large and kind of floppy growth habit. They will fill up a large container.
- ‘Purple & Bloom’ is another new one I purchased for my containers. It’s supposed to grow to 40″-48″. That should be interesting.
Salvia x ‘Amistad’ PP23578 fits in here somewhere. It’s another patented hybrid with dark purple flowers and is very tender. It used to be difficult to find, but not anymore. It is thought to be a hybrid of anise sage, S. guaranitica, and maybe Mexican sage, S. mexicana. This year, I’m growing ‘Betsy’s Choice,’ which looks similar to ‘Amistad.’ Noted amateur botanist and horticulturist, Betsy Clebcsh, found it in her garden. Clebsch wrote The New Book of Salvias: Sages for Every Garden.
Salvia splendens is tender but also a showstopper.
- ‘Saucy Red’ is the prettiest bright red-flowered variety I’ve seen in a long time.
- S. splendens x darcyi ‘Roman Red’ has interesting flowers. According to Ball Seed, it “is the only vibrant red, interspecific salvia on the market! More similar in habit and performance to ‘Black & Bloom’, with a semi-mounded habit. Offers exceptional landscape performance when compared to Salvia splendens.” We shall see.
Salvia nemorosa is perennial.
I have several S. nemorosa cultivars in my garden.
- ‘Caradonna’ is still my favorite blue one although I planted ‘Salvatore Blue’ last year. The jury’s still out.
- ‘Blue By You‘ is a new one in my garden this year. I’ll let you know how I like it.
- ‘Rose Marvel’ was a trial plant a few years ago. I love it so much, but it doesn’t last. It blooms itself to death.
- On the other hand, ‘Pink Profusion‘ has performed really well for three years straight. I moved the plants to my garage border from the cut flower garden this spring.
I’m also trialing a new salvia from Dummen Orange called Icon Blue Bicolor. I’m excited about this plant and the other plants they sent me this year. I don’t have any photos of the flowers yet, but they are blue and white.
I can’t forget S. leucantha, Mexican bush sage.
Mexican bush sage is very important to my garden. It flowers late, starting in late August and contiues until frost. It backs up my pink muhly grass which stops traffic in September. This giant purple sage makes me happy, but doesn’t always overwinter so I take cuttings each fall and grow them in the greenhouse. It’s a good thing I took them this year because the fire burned up my very large plant. I planted one at each end of the bed facing the street. That bed was especially damaged by the fire, but it gives me a chance to try new things.
So many salvias to grow.
There are so many other salvias we could add to my year of the salvia, but I’m going to stop here.
Now where to find all these goodies?
I’ve linked to several plant nurseries within my text but also look at the website Flowers by the Sea for unique varieties. Take your time, though. You can really get lost in a genus with over 900 species.
I ordered some of my new ones this year from Select Seeds and Almost Eden. I love Select Seeds–they pack their plants really well–and I already have them planted in the garden. I’m still waiting on my order from Almost Eden, and since it’s the first time I’ve ordered from them, I’ll have to let you know.
Eden Bros has seeds for several different salvias, but you will probably want to buy plants at this stage of the garden year.
Salvias on the podcast.
By the way, even though it’s mid-April, the forecast this weekend looks quite chilly. My News9 app is showing 35° as our low for Saturday morning. Further north, we may get a freeze. You might want to wait on your tomatoes and peppers until this weekend is over, or you’ll need to cover them. The same holds true for tropical salvias and other tender plants.
Talk to you soon.