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Ornamental Salvia

Salvia has lots of members of its family, including culinary sage (a staple flavor element in sausage and your Thanksgiving stuffing) and the ornamental varieties (which are inedible! Don’t accidentally take out Aunt Mary by putting this in your stuffing at your next turkey dinner).

While there are hundreds of options,  your local nursery will stock several selections that are best suited for your particular horticultural zone. Read the tags carefully; some plants get a couple feet tall and wide. Others, like Mexican sage, can get to be 6’x6′ under the optimal growing conditions. It would be such a shame if you couldn’t get to your front door for the sage blocking your path…..

You probably have guessed by now that I like to fill my garden with plants that thrive on neglect. This perennial fits the bill. I usually do no more to it than shear it after the flower stalks are spent in the hopes I”ll get a re-bloom (if you’re a bit more attentive than I am, you could actually pull off continual blooming!).

They “behave” well enough that they are lovely when planted en masse as a border (unlike daylilies or irises. Turn your back on them, and they spread so fast, they might end up in bed with you).

Butterflies and birds also love the ornamental salvia.  Our garden chairs are perched far enough away from the beds these are in that the winged critters do their thing without feeling threatened by us, yet we’re close enough we can see what they are doing. It’s sort of like having an open-air aquarium, but with butterflies and bees instead of fish. Very soothing to watch.

What ornamental salvia likes:

  • Well-drained soil – but don’t make it tooo nice. Make them struggle a bit; the show is better and they won’t get all lanky and lazy
  • Plenty of direct sun! 6-8 hours at least.
  • To be sheared after the flower stalks are spent to encourage re-blooming
  • To be divided if the crown gets spread out and scraggly