Tips For Growing Salvia
Salvia (commonly referred to as ‘Sage’) represent a huge family of ornamental plants that attract a variety of pollinators to their nectar rich flowers. They are resistant to deer and rabbits.
- Plant in full sun.
- Plant native Western Salvia varieties in soil that is low fertility and well-drained.
- Plant Old World Salvia in a wide range of soils (loams, sand) including clay.
- Many spring-flowering varieties of sage will re-bloom in fall if deadheaded after the first bloom.
- New transplants need regular irrigation their first growing season to establish themselves. Once established they will need regular, deep irrigation during hot, dry weather.
- During fall garden clean-up, wait to cut back the plants until spring for improved cold hardiness.
- In colder USDA zones (zone 6 and below) it is essential to give Native Southwestern and Southwestern hybrids protection from the extreme cold their first couple winters in the garden. Mound up pine needles or fallen autumn leaves over and around the base of the plant.
Western Native Salvia: : It is from the Western US that we find our most beautiful native salvia species. For attracting hummingbirds, there are no finer flowers than the Western native sages. Typically, this group of Salvia prefer ‘lean’ (not very fertile), well drained soils. They will grow in dry clay conditions in arid climates but will rot out in clay soils where there is more than about 15 to 18” of precipitation annually.
Western Salvia include:
- Salvia greggii - ‘Furman’s Red’, ‘Cold Hardy Pink’
- Salvia hybrids - ‘Maraschino’, ‘Raspberry Delight’, ‘Ultra Violet’ and ‘Burgundy Seduction’.
- Salvia pachyphylla and Salvia dorrii is recommended for arid western gardens.
- Salvia azurea and Salvia reptans - Early fall bloomers with excellent cold hardiness.
To get established in USDA zones 5 & 6, Western Salvia (noted above) must be planted in spring or early summer, not in the fall. Protect your new plants over their first winter or two in your garden. Cover each plant with a generous pile of clean straw or pine needles. This allows the plant's crown (junction of root and branches) to mature and obtain maximum cold hardiness.
Old Wolrd Salvia: The Old World Salvia include some of the very best, most durable, longest-lived perennials. These salvia are an excellent choice for gardeners across most of the United States. ‘Old World’ Sages bloom primarily in shades of blue, pink and white. They are well adapted to cold climates and a wide range of soils including clay. The European Salvia are incredibly attractive to honey bees, many of our native bees and bumble bees as well as butterflies.
Old World varieties include:
- Salvia syslvestris'Lyrical Rose', 'May Night', 'Little Night', 'Caradonna' and 'Marcus'.
- Salvia daghestanica
- Salvia verticiliata
More in-depth guidance for growing Salvia: Planting Nectar Rich Salvia to Attract Pollinators to the Garden, Sage Advice, The Spectacular Salvia and Cold Hardy, Late Summer / Early Fall Blooming Sages.