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There are hundreds of different types of salvias, commonly called sage, but they all tend to share beautiful, tall flower spikes and attractive, often gray-green leaves. Countless sages (including the herb used in cooking) are available to decorate ornamental gardens, and new selections appear annually. They are valued for their very long season of bloom, right up until frost. Not all not hardy in cold climates, but they are easy to grow as annuals. On square stems, clothed with often-aromatic leaves, sages carry dense or loose spires of tubular flowers in bright blues, violets, yellow, pinks, and red that mix well with other perennials in beds and borders. Provide full sun or very light shade, in well-drained average soil.
Part Sun, Sun
Under 6 inches to 20 feet
8-36 inches wide, depending on variety
more varieties for Salvia
Salvia greggii is shrubby at the base, with aromatic foliage all along the stems. Its loose spires of cherry red flowers are carried on 2- to 3-foot stems in late summer and fall. Zones 7-9.
'Black and Blue' sage
Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' blooms in late summer and fall with very deep blue flowers, with almost black calyces. The flowers are carried in spikes on shrubby stems that may reach 8 feet tall. Zones 7-10, though it's often treated as an annual.
Salvia azurea grows to 5 feet tall and bears wonderful spikes of sky-blue flowers in late summer and fall. Zones 5-9
Giant purple sage
Salvia pachyphylla is exceedingly tough and bears spikes of purple flowers throughout the summer. It can reach 4 feet tall. Zones 5-9
'May Night' hybrid sage
Salvia x sylvestris 'May Night' carries dense spikes of large, two-lipped, deep indigo blue flowers on 1 1/2- to 2-foot stems. Increase by division as this is a sterile hybrid. Zones 5-9
Salvia farinacea is usually treated as an annual in northern climates. It is upright and bushy, its 2-foot stems coated with a white meal. Dense spikes of blue or white flowers bloom from summer into fall. Zones 8-11
Mexican bush sage
Salvia leucantha bears fuzzy purple flowers in late summer and fall. It grows 3 feet tall and is hardy in Zones 8-10. It's often grown as an annual in cold-winter climates.
Salvia nemorosa 'Plumosa' bears dense spikes of deep purple blooms throughout the summer. It grows 18 inches tall. Zones 3-8
Salvia involucrata is a shrubby Mexican native that develops purple-red flowers from midsummer to fall. It grows 5 feet tall and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Zones 7-11
plant Salvia with
Golden marguerite is a cheerful flower. Also known as golden chamomile, it produces a cloud of yellow daisies on feather gray-green foliage. Plants spread quickly, requiring division every two years or so.After their first flush of bloom, they get rather rangy, so cut them back by about half to keep them neat-looking and encourage further bloom.
Easy, always fresh, and always eye-catching, Shasta daisy is a longtime favorite. All cultivars produce white daisy flowers in various degrees of doubleness and size. The sturdy stems and long vase life make the flowers unbeatable for cutting. Shasta daisy thrives in well-drained, not overly rich soil. Taller sorts may need staking.
Daylilies are so easy to grow you'll often find them growing in ditches and fields, escapees from gardens. And yet they look so delicate, producing glorious trumpet-shape blooms in myriad colors. In fact, there are some 50,000 named hybrid cultivars in a range of flower sizes (the minis are very popular), forms, and plant heights. Some are fragrant.The flowers are borne on leafless stems. Although each bloom lasts but a single day, superior cultivars carry numerous buds on each scape so bloom time is long, especially if you deadhead daily. The strappy foliage may be evergreen or deciduous.Shown above: 'Little Grapette' daylily
Asters get their name from the Latin word for "star," and their flowers are indeed the superstars of the fall garden. Some types of this native plant can reach up to 6 feet with flowers in white and pinks but also, perhaps most strikingly, in rich purples and showy lavenders.Not all asters are fall bloomers. Extend the season by growing some of the summer bloomers, as well. Some are naturally compact; tall types that grow more than 2 feet tall benefit from staking or an early-season pinching or cutting back by about one-third in July or so to keep the plant more compact.