It’s no secret that I’m a real fan of salvia. A couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed highlighting sage, which is a great culinary salvia. This week I’m going to talk about perennial salvia, another group of these great plants.
Perennial salvias are real showstoppers in Mississippi gardens and landscapes. They love our hot and humid summers, and they are high-production flower factories. Here are a few you should consider for your landscape.
Unplugged So Blue salvia is an outstanding selection of mealy cup sage, known scientifically as Salvia farinacea. The bright-blue flower spikes sit just atop the dense, bright-green foliage. This is the perfect size salvia for borders, standing 20 inches tall by 14 inches wide.
I’ve been impressed with the Rockin’ series of salvia since I started growing them back in 2016. There have been several of these salvias introduced, including the following that I think are outstanding choices.
Rockin’ Blue Suede Shoes salvias have crisp, bright indigo-blue flowers with dark black calyxes. The deep-green foliage is complementary to the tall spikes of blue flowers. This has been a reliable and long-blooming performer in my home landscape for at least the last four years.
Like many of the new salvia selections on the market, Rockin’ Blue Suede Shoes is sterile. This means no seeds are produced and all the plants’ energy goes into the production of flowers. What home gardener wouldn’t like that?
Rockin’ Fuchsia produces tubular, bright fuchsia-pink flowers, and the deep purple-black calyxes that line the stems create a stunning show of color. When the flowers drop, the deep purple-black calyxes look like flower spikes from a distance. This selection has an upright habit, standing up to 22 inches tall.
Another great selection is Amistad, which has gaudy flowers displayed on tall stems above heart-shaped foliage. This selection will bloom for several months from early spring until frost in the fall. Amistad salvia produces an abundance of nearly black, charcoal-purple spikes displaying dramatic deep violet-purple flowers.
The flowers of this vigorously growing salvia are a magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds.
A salvia that was new to me last year is the tropical Bolivian sage. This is salvia has deep-fuchsia to cherry-colored flowers that are densely fuzzy with little white hairs. Leaves are large and deep green, and the plant grows well in the hot days of late summer. This is a vigorous grower and can reach 4 feet tall.
Bolivian sage has a cold hardiness to USDA Zone 8, so it’s possible that this plant is perennial for gardeners in the southern areas of Mississippi. It is a great summer annual for northern parts of the state.
For the most part, salvias are some of the easiest flowering plants to grow in our Mississippi landscapes. For best performance, grow your salvia in full sun, make sure the plants are consistently watered but not overwatered, and feed periodically with water-soluble fertilizer.
• Dr. Gary Bachman is an Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. He is also the host of the popular Southern Gardening television and radio programs. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.