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Flamboyant, long-blooming, pollinator-friendly flowers and aromatic foliage

The genus Salvia contains herbs, subshrubs, and shrubs, commonly called sage, grown for culinary, medicinal, and ornamental purposes. Salvia cultivars offer a wide range of forms, bloom habits, and sizes; but the majority are small shrubs that grow rapidly to between 1 and 5 feet tall and wide. Plants are generally perennial in warm climates but are often grown as annuals in colder regions. Ornamental salvias are favored for their prominent flower spikes that bloom for extended periods, often from late spring through fall, some to first frost. The flamboyant flowers come in brilliant shades of blue, purple, pink, red, white, or yellow and rise above aromatic foliage, which varies widely in leaf shape, texture, and color. Famous pollinator magnets, the nectar- and pollen-rich flowers sustain bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, making sage a natural for native, butterfly, or pollinator gardens.

Salvia is a large genus of about 900 to 1000 species, with about 50 native to North America. Some sages are grown mostly for their leaves, such as S. argentea (silver sage) and S. officinalis (common sage, culinary sage). Popular species of ornamental sages include S. coccinea (scarlet sage, Texas sage), S. elegans (pineapple sage), S. farinacea (mealycup sage), S. greggii (autumn sage), S. leucantha (Mexican bush sage), S. microphylla (little leaf sage, Graham’s sage), S. nemorosa (woodland sage), S. patens (Genetian sage), S. verticillata (lilac sage), S. sylvestris (meadow sage), and S. splendens (scarlet sage), which is possibly the most well-known for home gardens.

Easy to grow and low maintenance, sages grow best in sunny locations with average, well-drained soil. A few tolerate light shade, and most are quite drought tolerant, a good choice for xeriscapes. Pests and diseases are usually not a big issue for sages, and they are not favored by deer or rabbits.

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