15 April 2012

Sages, Salvias and their many variations

Mountain Valley Growers
California Sunset Salvia is one of the pink flowering sages for sunny, dry spots. And, it's one I don't have yet though it is on the wish list for sure. unlike many sages, this one maxes out at 2 feet tall. It's cold hardy in zones 7 to 11, which means a mild winter here since we are just zone 7. 

To play it safe I usually take cuttings of all my zone 7 hardy sages in the fall so the next spring when I'm plant shopping I don't have to replace those and can add to my collection.


Mountain Valley Growers has 32 sage varieties - whose photo this is - It is a company I've had good luck with in the past. They sell this one $4.95 for a 3-inch pot, plus shipping of course.

Plant Delights offers the same salvia for $12.00 though I looked throughout their webpage and can't get any information on the size of the pot or plant they are offering. My assumption is that it must be larger than Mountain Valley's.

Their catalog says, "We picked up this Salvia greggii hybrid in California under the incorrect name of Salvia macellaria. It turned out to be a splendid Salvia greggii hybrid (probably Salvia x jamensis) that forms a 3' tall x 4' wide, woody-stemmed, deer-resistant, hummingbird acclaimed clump, topped in spring and again in fall with a superb show of flower spikes of an unusual peachy-orange (RHS 31B) that just tops the foliage."

Dyson's Nursery in England offers 60 Salvia varieties! Great photos at their link.

Many Salvia greggii are sun loving and others not so much. Mine bloom the best when they get afternoon shade, especially since it had to endure those 117 degree days we had last summer.

Since our winter was so mild for 2011/12, the Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) is already blooming its head off and all 3 cuttings I planted last year are up and blooming - in mid-April in zone 7!

The culinary sage didn't even bother to die back this year. Part of its success, I suspect is that it is protected by a huge mass of Mother of Thyme (Creeping Thyme or Thymus serpyllum) stems and leaves.

By the way, Mother of Thyme is an incredibly durable ground cover in our NE OK garden. I got a couple of 4-inch pots from Moonshadow Herb Farm four years ago and if you added up all the places I have transplanted clumps it would easily be 100 square feet. And, you can walk on it.

The other Salvias that have surprised me for the 3rd or 4th year - The Hot Lips (Salvia microphylla (grahamii) Hot Lips and the Variegated Sage are both thriving.

Hot Lips is grown for its red and white flowers and nice scent rather than for the kitchen.

The Variegated Sage (Salvia officinalis 'Icterina' (Golden variegated sage, Common sage, Culinary sage) has a narrow zones 7-8 hardiness range and grows  s l o w l y.

Black and Blue (Salvia guaranitica, Anise sage) isn't showing itself yet though it always the latest to bloom. I hope it survived the transplant. It is one of the ones I would replace if it failed to thrive.

Do you grow Salvia for butterflies and hummingbirds or for bouquets and kitchen?

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