Little Night SalviaLittle Night Salvia

'Little Night' Salvia: 2015 Plant Of The Year

By David Salman, Founder of High Country Gardens

Every once in a while, there comes a perennial plant that seems to have it all.  Salvia sylvestris 'Little Night', the High Country Gardens 2015 Plant Of The Year, is one of those rare perennials. It is suitable for planting across much of the U.S. and will quickly become a favorite in your waterwise, habitat-friendly landscape.

Why You'll Want To Plant It

The long list of desirable traits that 'Little Night' offers gardeners:

  • Neatly compact, and mature size (only 10" tall x 12-15" wide), so it can easily fit into small gardens or established gardens
  • A profusion of tidy, strongly vertical, dark violet-blue flower spikes
  • Long blooming habit with flowers in late spring (and again in mid-summer when deadheaded after the first flush of flowers)
  • The ability to thrive in heavy clay soil and most other soil types
  • Excellent cold hardiness and heat tolerance (USDA zones 4-9)
  • Resistance to browsing rabbits and deer
  • Long-lived and exceptionally durable, it thrives in all kinds of growing conditions
  • Offers a great nectar source for honeybees
Salvia sylvestris Little Night (shown with Oenothera Shimmer in the foreground)Salvia sylvestris Little Night (shown with Oenothera Shimmer in the foreground)
High Country Gardens 2015 Plant of the Year: Salvia sylvestris Little Night (shown with Oenothera Shimmer in the foreground)

The Origins Of 'Little Night'

I spotted the original plant in a friend's garden when traveling around Salt Lake City a few years ago. It was early June and his garden was at peak bloom. Growing off to one side of the yard in among a drift of ice plants was a magnificent specimen of Salvia 'May Night'. As I wandered around looking at all the flowers, I noticed that growing right next to it was a pint-sized version of itself. Clearly, a seedling with dwarf genetics had sprouted and established itself.

I was thrilled to see it and asked for a cutting. That very next week, my friend very generously dug up the whole plant and mailed it to me! So it was off to the races as I began to propagate this little beauty and grow some plants to transplant into my test gardens the following year.

And it didn't disappoint. After several years of testing, 'Little Night' is indeed a dwarf version of 'May Night'. And all the wonderful attributes of its larger parent have been passed along to this stunning youngster.

Salvia Little Night with other Plants Of The Year, Penstemon pinifolius and Oenothera 'Shimmer', Lavender, and Delosperma (Ice Plant)Salvia Little Night with other Plants Of The Year, Penstemon pinifolius and Oenothera 'Shimmer', Lavender, and Delosperma (Ice Plant)
Salvia Little Night with other Plants Of The Year, Penstemon pinifolius and Oenothera 'Shimmer', Lavender, and Delosperma (Ice Plant)

Companion Plants

'Little Night' is a superb companion plant whose dark flowers makes all the other flowering plants around it look even better. Because it grows in any soil type, I have been using it everywhere, pairing it up with all my favorite perennials.

Of course, the dwarf size of 'Little Night' makes it useful in tight spaces and small gardens. But its use shouldn't be limited by its size, as it is excellent for massing (using groupings of 5 or more plants), planted in front of taller perennials and ornamental grasses, or as an edging plant to define paths and perennial beds.

In the past couple of years, I've paired it with:


The Legacy of David Salman | High Country Gardens founder David Salman was a pioneer of waterwise gardening, a passionate plant explorer, and a charismatic storyteller. His commitment to cultivating a palette of beautiful waterwise plants transformed gardening in the American West. 


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