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A Gardener's Guide to Salvias

Salvias, also called sages, are easy to grow, bloom abundantly, and great looking in the landscape. Use this guide to find the best types of salvia for your garden.

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    • Blue Salvia

      Blue salvia is a favorite of many gardeners because it's a cinch to grow, flowers profusely all summer, and is wonderfully drought tolerant. It's a great choice for both beds and borders and containers. It's native to areas of North America.
      Name: Salvia farinacea selections
      Size: To 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide
      Zones: 8-10, though it's usually grown as an annual in cooler Zones.
      Grow it with: You can put together a showstopping combo by growing blue salvia with anything, but it's particularly nice with purple-leaf peppers such as 'Black Pearl'.

    • 'Black and Blue' Salvia

      A hummingbird magnet, 'Black and Blue' displays spikes of rich cobalt-blue flowers that emerge from purple-black buds on dark stems. This salvia is quite easy to grow in a sunny spot with moist, well-drained soil and blooms from midsummer to fall.
      Name: Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'
      Size: To 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide in cool-winter areas; 6 feet tall and 2 feet wide in warm areas
      Zones: 8-10, though it's often grown as an annual in colder Zones.
      Grow it with: Play off the dark tones of 'Black and Blue' salvia by planting it with Supertunia Royal Velvet or Wave Blue petunia.

    • Clary Sage

      Clary sage is a little different because its color comes from its leafy bracts that look like big pink, purple, or white flower petals. The bracts are long-lasting and dry well, making it a good cut flower and useful in dried-flower crafts. This sage needs well-drained soil to thrive.
      Note: You might also see this plant listed under the name Salvia horminum.
      Name: Salvia viridis
      Size: To 20 inches tall and 10 inches wide
      Zones: Annual
      Grow it with: Make garden magic that you can dry for indoor arrangements by planting clary sage with golden Sundaze Flame strawflowers.

    • Salvias, also called sages, are some of the most versatile plants around. Most varieties are wonderfully drought tolerant and feature beautiful flowers with pleasantly scented, attractive foliage. Plus, deer, bunnies, and other garden pests typically ignore the plants. The key to success is knowing which varieties are right for your yard. Check out some of our favorites.

    • Culinary Sage

      A must-grow plant in herb gardens, culinary sage features wonderfully scented silvery-gray leaves and spikes of lilac flowers in early summer. It's a key ingredient in many container-garden combinations as well as Thanksgiving stuffing and even a few desserts. Note: Like most salvias, culinary sage does best in full sun and well-drained soil. It's not the best choice for gardeners with wet ground or heavy clay.
      Name: Salvia officinalis
      Size: To 3 feet tall and wide
      Zones: 5-8
      Grow it with: No herb garden should be without sage, basil, and rosemary.

    • Purple Sage

      While it's not quite as tasty or hardy as its silvery-gray cousin, purple sage offers more color in containers and beds and borders. Be sure to plant it where you can walk by and brush the foliage to release its lovely scent.
      Name: Salvia officinalis 'Purpurascens'
      Size: To 3 feet tall and wide
      Zones: 6-8
      Grow it with: Try pairing its purple-blushed foliage with a purple-flowering, sun-loving plant such as angelonia 'Angelface Dark Violet' for an incredible summer-long show.

    • Variegated Sage

      Here's another extra-attractive member of the culinary sage group. Variegated sage features gray-green leaves irregularly edged in chartreuse.
      Name: Salvia officinalis 'Icterina'
      Size: To 3 feet tall and wide
      Zones: 6-8
      Grow it with: Variegated sage is a fun counterpoint to blue flowers, such as bachelor's button and larkspur.

    • Tricolor Sage

      'Tricolor' combines the best features of the three sages we mentioned; it displays silvery-green leaves edged in creamy white and blushed with purple. It's an excellent choice for growing as an annual in containers, especially in northern areas.
      Name: Salvia officinalis 'Tricolor'
      Size: To 3 feet tall and wide
      Zones: 6-8
      Grow it with: Let tricolor sage shine among a planting of 'Black Beauty' or other purple-leaf sun-loving coleus.

    • Red Salvia

      A popular annual selected for its eye-catching color, red salvia is commonly available and easy to grow. Like most other salvias, it offers scented foliage so deer and rabbits usually leave it alone. It flowers all summer long.
      Name: Salvia splendens selections
      Size: To 16 inches tall and wide
      Zones: 10-11, though it's usually grown as an annual in cooler Zones.
      Grow it with: Combine red salvia with blue salvia and white geraniums (such as 'Rocky Mountain White') for a classic patriotic look.

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      'Victoria Blue' Salvia

      A standout selection bred in 1978, 'Victoria Blue' is popular for its long-lasting flowers that are great for cutting. This variety tolerates partial shade better than most salvias.
      Name: Salvia farinacea 'Victoria Blue'
      Size: To 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide
      Zones: 8-10, though it's usually considered an annual in cold-winter areas.
      Grow it with: You can't go wrong planting 'Victoria Blue' with silvery dusty miller or golden-yellow 'Durango Gold' marigolds.

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      'Cirrus' Salvia

      'Cirrus' is a delightful selection bearing spikes of pure-white flowers all summer and autumn. Like other forms of blue salvia, it shines with silvery foliage and adapts to different soil types. It's a good selection for cutting and makes a wonderful accent to selections with deep blue flowers.
      Name: Salvia farinacea 'Cirrus'
      Size: To 20 inches tall and 12 inches wide
      Zones: 8-10, but this tender perennial is often grown as an annual in cooler Zones.
      Grow it with: Get a clean, crisp combo by mixing 'Cirrus' with a white-flowering vinca, such as 'Pacifica White'.

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      'Evolution' Salvia

      This stunning variety won an All-America Selections award for its masses of deep violet-purple flowers appearing summer into fall. It's more compact than many other types of blue salvia and produces more flower spikes.
      Name: Salvia farinacea 'Evolution'
      Size: To 16 inches tall and 14 inches wide
      Zones: Zones 8-10; it's treated as an annual in most places though.
      Grow it with: Add cheer and color to your summer garden with 'Evolution' salvia and a dwarf black-eyed Susan such as 'Toto Gold'.

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      'Mystic Spires Blue' Salvia

      One of the most heat- and drought-tolerant annuals, 'Mystic Spires' offers tall spikes of blue flowers throughout the summer. It's an excellent plant for attracting butterflies.
      Name: Salvia 'Mystic Spires Blue'
      Size: To 18 inches tall and 24 inches wide
      Zones: 7-10, but many gardeners grow it as an annual.
      Grow it with: Contrast this variety's rich blue flowers and upright habit with a silvery skirt of trailing licorice plant.

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      'Lady in Red' Salvia

      Another All-America Selections award winner, 'Lady in Red' presents vibrant red spikes of flowers all summer long. Adored by butterflies and hummingbirds, gardeners love it for its low care requirements and brilliant blooms.
      Name: Salvia coccinea 'Lady in Red'
      Size: To 16 inches tall and 12 inches wide
      Zones: Annual
      Grow it with: Make a miniature hummingbird garden with a simple planting of 'Lady in Red' salvia, 'Graffiti Red' pentas, and 'Phoenix Red' penstemon.

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      'Coral Nymph' Salvia

      Long-blooming 'Coral Nymph' adorns itself in spikes of coral-pink flowers from early summer to frost. Native to areas of South America, it holds up to hot, humid conditions well -- though it's not as drought-tolerant as many other salvias. It's a top pick for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.
      Name: Salvia coccinea 'Coral Nymph'
      Size: To 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide
      Zones: Annual
      Grow it with: You won't believe how many butterflies will visit your yard if you plant 'Coral Nymph' salvia with 'White Sonata' cosmos.

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      Gentian Sage

      If you love blue, you'll probably fall in love with gentian sage, a tender perennial. It shines with large sky blue flowers in summer and fall that are loved by butterflies and hummingbirds.
      Name: Salvia patens
      Size: To 24 inches tall and 18 inches wide
      Zones: 8-9, though it's often grown as an annual in cold-winter climates.
      Grow it with: Get double the true-blue effect by growing gentian sage with plumbago.

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      'Blue Angel' Sage

      With its vividly blue flowers, 'Blue Angel' is a garden showstopper that may garner more attention from garden guests than the scores of hummingbirds and butterflies it attracts. It bears fuzzy green foliage on a well-branched, upright plant.
      Name: Salvia patens 'Blue Angel'
      Size: To 28 inches tall and 18 inches wide
      Zones: 8-9, though it's often grown as an annual in cold-winter climates.
      Grow it with: Create an easy-growing but delicate-looking combo with 'Blue Angel' sage and Diamond Frost euphorbia.

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      'Kobalt' Salvia

      A cousin of the more popular 'Black and Blue' variety, 'Kobalt' produces tall clusters of deep blue flowers but without the black buds and stems. It's equally as popular with hummingbirds and butterflies and is a perfect pick for gardeners who love blue flowers.
      Name: Salvia guaranitica 'Kobalt'
      Size: To 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide in cool-winter areas; 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide in warm areas
      Zones: 8-10, though it's commonly grown as an annual in colder Zones.
      Grow it with: Put on a show with striking 'Purple Majesty' millet and 'Kobalt' salvia.

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      Mexican Bush Sage

      Grown as an annual in cold-winter climates to give gardens a fall finale, Mexican bush sage is a shrubby plant with fuzzy foliage and dense spikes of lavender-blue flowers. In warm-winter areas, this stunner blooms from winter to early spring.
      Name: Salvia leucantha
      Size: To 40 inches tall and 36 inches wide
      Zones: 10-11, though it's grown as an annual in colder Zones.
      Grow it with: Add elegance to your autumn landscape, grow Mexican bush sage with purple fountaingrass.

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      Pineapple Sage

      Rub one of pineapple sage's leaves and you'll be rewarded with a fresh, fruity scent. This fast-growing plant supplies startlingly red flowers in fall. Grown as an annual in cool-season climates, pineapple sage is a perennial in warm-winter regions where it blooms from winter to spring.
      Name: Salvia elegans
      Size: To 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide in cool areas; 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide in warm areas
      Zones: 8-10, though it's grown as an annual in colder Zones.
      Grow it with: Give your nose the wonderful gift of pineapple sage and fragrant heliotrope.

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      'Golden Delicious' Pineapple Sage

      'Golden Delicious' pineapple sage bears all the great attributes of its sister but notches up the impact with its bright golden-chartreuse foliage.
      Name: Salvia elegans 'Golden Delicious'
      Size: To 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide in cool areas
      Zones: 8-10, though it's grown as an annual in colder Zones. You can grow it indoors for winter blooms if you have a bright, sunny window.
      Grow it with: Play off this variety's golden foliage by mixing it with 'Luscious Citrus Blend' lantana.

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      Silver Sage

      Try something entirely different with silver sage, grown for its stunning fuzzy foliage. A biennial, it has lovely leaves the first year and then blooms with clusters of white flowers the second year. It's so lovely, though, many gardeners cut the flowers off to keep the focus on the foliage.
      Name: Salvia argentea
      Size: To 3 feet tall (in bloom) and 2 feet wide
      Zones: 5-8
      Grow it with: Make a bold impression by planting silver sage with cardoon, which also presents eye-catching silvery leaves.

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      May Night Salvia

      May Night is an award-winning selection that offers spikes of deep blue-purple flowers in summer. If deadheaded, it reblooms. Like most salvias, it's left alone by deer and rabbits and thrives in full sun and well-drained soil.
      Name: Salvia x sylvestris 'Mainacht'
      Size: To 30 inches tall and 18 inches wide
      Zones: 5-9
      Grow it with: May Night salvia and 'Pomegranate' yarrow make a fuss-free, long-blooming combination that butterflies adore.

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      East Friesland Salvia

      A favorite for its long bloom season, East Friesland salvia is a mound-shape plant with spikes of violet-purple flowers in summer and fall. It attracts a lot of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to the garden.
      Name: Salvia nemorosa 'Ostfriesland'
      Size: To 18 inches tall and 24 inches wide
      Zones: 5-9
      Grow it with: Go for a classic blue and yellow look with 'Moonbeam' coreopsis and East Friesland salvia.

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      'Sensation Rose' Salvia

      'Sensation Rose' is a compact, mounding selection with spikes of lavender-pink flowers all summer long. Use it to edge beds and borders, in butterfly gardens, or as a charming addition to rock gardens.
      Name: Salvia nemorosa 'Sensation Rose'
      Size: To 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide
      Zones: 5-9
      Grow it with: Mix little 'Sensation Rose' salvia with dwarf, purple-flowering 'Marcus' salvia.

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      'Plumosa' Salvia

      'Plumosa' offers a distinct look: Instead of thin spikes, this salvia bears blooms in large purple plumes from early to late summer. This compact selection is perfect for the middle of the border.
      Name: Salvia nemorosa 'Plumosa'
      Size: To 18 inches tall and 14 inches wide
      Zones: 5-8
      Grow it with: Contrast this salvia with the daisy-shape flowers of Pixie Meadowbright purple coneflower.

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      'Hot Lips' Salvia

      An eye-catcher for the sunny garden, 'Hot Lips' features off spikes of white flowers; each bloom is marked with a kiss-shape red marking. A fast-growing selection, 'Hot Lips' looks great in beds, borders, and containers.
      Name: Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips'
      Size: To 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide
      Zones: 7-9
      Grow it with: Lovely lavender is a perfect partner to 'Hot Lips'; with this mix you can revel in a wonderful soft scent and bold, bright color.

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      'Desert Blaze' Salvia

      This variety is sure to be a garden showstopper. It displays clusters of red flowers in summer and fall that contrast beautifully against the white-edge foliage.
      Name: Salvia greggii 'Desert Blaze'
      Size: To 2 feet tall and wide
      Zones: 7-9
      Grow it with: White poppy mallow is a brilliant groundcover that takes heat and drought as well as 'Desert Blaze' salvia and supplies a season-long display of white flowers.

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      Salvia pachyphylla

      Native to California, this species is rarely grown in gardens -- though it deserves to be. It's wonderfully heat and drought tolerant, bearing clusters of lavender-purple flowers all summer and fall over evergreen silvery foliage.
      Name: Salvia pachyphylla
      Size: To 3 feet tall and wide
      Zones: 6-9
      Grow it with: Delicate white gaura adds a graceful texture next to any salvia -- including this one.

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      Raspberry Delight Salvia

      Raspberry Delight is one of the longest-blooming salvias, presenting clusters of raspberry red all summer and fall. Like most salvias, it doesn't need much water and thrives in a sunny spot. Deer and rabbits leave it alone, but you'll rarely see it without a visit from a bee, butterfly, or hummingbird.
      Name: Raspberry Delight Salvia
      Size: To 3 feet tall and wide
      Zones: 6-10
      Grow it with: 'Blue Fortune' anise hyssop is another long-blooming, practically pest-proof plant. It looks stunning with Raspberry Delight salvia.

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      Blue Sage

      Hailing from the prairies of North America, blue sage is an end-of-the-season stunner that produces tall spikes of lovely sky blue flowers. It's great for cutting and a wonderful accent to mums, kale, and asters.
      Name: Salvia azurea
      Size: To 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide
      Zones: 4-8 >>7-9 per a-z
      Grow it with: Big blue sage is a perfect partner for purple-leafed shrubs like Summer Wine ninebark.

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      'Wendy's Wish' Salvia

      Discovered in Australia, this hybrid shows off bright pink-purple flowers all spring, summer, and fall. It has a compact habit and makes for a wonderful cut flower.
      Name: Salvia 'Wendy's Wish'
      Size: To 3 feet tall and wide
      Zones: 9-11, but it's commonly grown as an annual in cool areas.
      Grow it with: Salvias look great together -- try 'Wendy's Wish' with 'Black and Blue'.

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      Serbian Sage

      This low-growing salvia is perfect for the front of the perennial border thanks to its fine-textured, feathery foliage and late-spring display of lavender-blue flowers. In especially hot, dry areas it may go dormant for the summer unless you keep it well watered.
      Name: Salvia jurisicii
      Size: To 2 feet tall and wide
      Zones: 6-9
      Grow it with: Add bright summer-long color by growing Serbian sage with 'Oranges and Lemons' gaillardia.

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      Purple Knockout Sage

      One of the few salvias grown for its foliage instead of its flowers, 'Purple Knockout' presents a low mound of deep purple leaves. It does bloom, but the summertime flowers aren't particularly significant, though they do attract bees and butterflies. If you don't deadhead it, 'Purple Knockout' may self-seed, acting like a perennial groundcover.
      Name: Salvia lyrata 'Purple Knockout'
      Size: To 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide
      Zones: 5-8
      Grow it with: Contrast its burgundy foliage with variegated 'Tequila Sunrise' coreopsis.

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      Purple Sage

      There's a lot to like about purple sage: It offers fuzzy gray foliage, is extremely drought tolerant, has attractive lavender-purple flowers in spring and summer, and attracts butterflies. This shrubby salvia is native to areas of California.
      Name: Salvia leucophylla
      Size: To 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide
      Zones: 8-10
      Grow it with: Red pine-leaf penstemon adds a lovely splash of color to purple sage.

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      Next Slideshow Power Perennials: Plants That Thrive No Matter What

      Power Perennials: Plants That Thrive No Matter What

      Add some flower power to your garden this year with any of these tough-as-nails perennial bloomers.
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