Salvias for your Garden

 In Hardy perennials, Plant Focus, Summer colour

Salvias for your Garden

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Salvia ‘Ostfriesland’

Salvias for your garden – I guess that most of us can remember when every garden and roundabout had bright postbox red Salvia as the obligatory part of that triumvirate bedding scheme; blue Lobelia, white Alyssum and red Salvia! Well how things have changed!

But Salvia as a plant genus always offered so much more and with global warming can offer West Country gardeners an exciting plant palette to play with!

I’d say that there were salvias for your garden whatever its size.

So let’s just get the more common ones out the way first.





Salvias for your Garden; Edible types

sage, salvia, purple sage

The edible purple sage

Sage – that you put with onions to make stuffing- is a Salvia and it unlike many of the others likes dry well drained soils.

It becomes a woody, shrubby herb and is evergreen.

But if you look at the shape of the flowers that it produces you will see that the general shape is very similar.

There are several types of sage with the grey-green one being the most widely grown among herbs.

The variety ‘Tricolor’ can be tricky to grow but is a real eye catcher. The yellow variegated form is more tolerant of growing conditions.




Salvias for your Garden; Bedding Varieties

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Salvia Salsa hybrids on trial

That postbox red bedding Salvia is still around and has been joined by far more exciting colour permutations!

There are now of creams, rich purples, mauve and even orange.

All these are neat small plants that rarely grow taller than your planting trowel.

These Salsa hybrids perform well in the garden border but also extremely well in plant containers.

Just imagine the colour combinations that you can conjure up with these.






Salvias for your Garden; Perennials

But gardens can have it all with perennial herbaceous Salvia! These add colour, fragrance, height and can be good for wildlife too! These perennial plants will perform for you every year and look at their best during the second half of summer and right into late autumn too.

Both the perennial and annual varieties are attractive to butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects and some of the tallest varieties will provide good shelter for a whole range of wildlife. Most herbaceous perennial Salvia grow to no more than knee high but there are many less hardy varieties that, given the right conditions, will reach well over head high by autumn!


What Pippa Greenwood says about Salvias for your Garden

pippa greenwood, gardening

Pippa Greenwood

Salvia is a favourite of former BBC Gardener’s World presenter Pippa Greenwood who says, “I’m a great fan of the hardier Salvias.

Even before the buds open they are attractive plants with erect stems, often with aromatic foliage and forming a sort of clump of exclamation marks.

Then when the flowers appear, usually in shades of violet, purple, pink or white and with stunning, showy bracts, they can bring any sunny border to life instantly.

They are much loved, not only by gardeners but also by bees and butterflies”.


More growing tips on Salvias for your Garden

salvia, sage, blue

Salvia uliginosa

The conditions that these herbaceous Salvia enjoy are well drained and yet moisture retaining [I know that seems contradictory] sunny position.

The shorter blue and mauve varieties [sylvestris and nemerosa types] such as the superb ‘Caradonna’, strongly scented ‘Mainacht’ and ‘Ostfriesland’ are tough and very hardy but some of the taller types need more shelter.

Soft blue 2 metre tall Salvia uliginosa for instance benefits from shelter from cold winds.





Small leaf varieties of Salvia microphylla and x jamensis remain compact and, although each bloom is small, have an exceptionally long flowering season.

The foliage of these is very aromatic and so fit well with a Mediterranean theme of planting.

salvia, sage, pink lips

Salvia Pink Lips

These demand well drained soil and a sunny position in the garden and are therefore a good candidate for gravel gardens.





Recommended Salvias for your Garden

There are oh so many varieties of salvias but I will give you a short list of some of the best that I would personally recommend –

sage, salvia, aminstad

Salvia Amistad

Salvia ‘Amistad’
–  Salvia x jamensis ‘Hot Lips’
Salvia nemerosa ‘Caradonna’
– Salvia nemerosa ‘East Friesland’ [Ostfriesland] – Salvia patens
–  Salvia x sylvestris ‘May Night’ [Mainacht] – Salvia uliginosa





What to plant them with

Those looking for companion plants to complement Salvia in the garden are recommended to try:

Hebe – purple flowered varieties
Pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’
Lysimachia ephemerum
Verbena bonariensis

Have you grown Salvias and if so what plants look good together with yours?

Many garden plants also come from South America where Salvia grows widely. You may care to read about Chilean plants that I had in my last garden here.

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