The Salvias of Fall

The Salvias of Fall

I have repeatedly written about how awesome salvias are.  I hope you’re not tired of that kind of talk because your about to get another dose!  Salvias are one of the easiest to care for perennials around. During fall they bloom profusely. They aren’t bothered terribly by heat and in many cases thrive in dry environments where other perennials may falter. This year, if any, can attest to that. We received a decent amount of rain before July then completely dried up.  Here in Tennessee we went for weeks without a significant rainfall then finally the rains returned in September.  That’s when the salvias began to burst forth with blooms.

Let’s start by examining the salvia that is just beginning to bloom. The other day I mentioned that my pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) was not yet blooming, well it’s almost there as you can see in the photo.  The recent rain has left the stems weak at the moment but with another day of sunshine this large  3-4 foot perennial I bought in a tiny 3″ pot in spring will be covered in red blooms!  No doubt there will be another post to come for my pineapple sage.

Back by my shed is a stand of Salvia farinacea.  This salvia was at one time a single plant I grew from a cutting.  The original parent was a seed grown start that I planted in the self-sowing garden. This salvia is easy to grow from seed or from cuttings and self sows very easily.  Just ask its 3-4 offspring which have completely grown over one pathway to my shed!

My ‘Black and Blue’ Salvia gauranitica hasn’t stopped blooming this year. It grows fast, it grows strong, and it grows big!  The single plant I added to our birdbath garden (which incidentally no longer has the birdbath) is now a five foot wide by five foot tall mass of hummingbird heaven!  Hummingbirds love the tubular flowers of salvia.  I don’t use hummingbird feeders anymore since they have all they need from the garden, and the real thing is almost always better isn’t it?

I’ve often considered trying my hand at hybridizing plants and thought that maybe salvias might be an interesting plant to try.  The larger flowers of ‘Black and Blue’ could easily lend themselves to hybridizing. 

But some flowers can also be quite small and tricky to work with like the flowers of Salvia farinacea.

My Autumn sage (Salvia greggii) has been blooming off and on this summer, but normally flushes out with flowers once in the spring then has an big show in the fall. 

My ‘Indigo Spires’ salvia  (Salvia longispicata x S. farinacea) is located right next to the ‘Black and Blue’ and has a tendency to get overtaken by the larger cousin. I always get confused as to whether this is ‘Indigo Spires’ or ‘Mystic Spires’.  I’ve planted both in the same location, but I have forgot which one died and which one was the replacement.  It could be either since both come from the same parentage.   

‘Hot Lips’ salvia (Salvia microphylla) is my newest salvia. The flower is supposed to be white with the lower lobe red giving it the appearance of lips.  Apparently my salvia didn’t get the memo. Its still a beautiful flower even if it has reverted to red.

The salvias in my garden that area not pictured in this post include salvia ‘Caradonna’, salvia ‘May Night’, and salvia ‘East Friesland’ but can be seen in this post on salvias.

What’s your favorite variety of salvia?


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 5 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Wow, your salvia farinacea is awesome and so pretty in front of that blue shed! I love the color of your Black and Blue salvia as well.

    I only have two salvias so far – Eveline and East Friesland. One of my East Friesland plants hasn't been out of bloom the entire summer. Salvias are such great plants!

  2. Well, for heaven's sakes, I guess I'd better "get with it!" You give quite the testimonial. 🙂

  3. I have a coralish pinkish and white one, some red, black and blue, blue beddar which some call mealy sage, pineapple sage and the hot lips…the colors on the hot lips change according to the heat. You will see some white from time to time.

  4. Salvias are great plants. Although I haven't grown a lot of them, my favorite is "May Night."

  5. I love salvias and would have them everywhere if only there were more sun in my garden! The Pineapple sage seems to survive our winters. While that makes me happy for gardening, it makes me sad that our zone is getting warmer.

  6. Thanks Indie!

    I think the blue on blue works well for the salvia. You should definitely add more!

    Salvias are simply awesome! I need to make more room for other varieties though.


    I was wondering if the colors on the flowers were kind of conditional.

    L. Ambler,

    May Night is a good one. It's hybrids are responsible for filling many of my gardens!


    There are a number of salvias that can take part shade too. We have a ground cover salvia (Salvia lyrata) and the Japanese yellow salvia come to mind. Pineapple sage dies out for me every time. I don't know how it could survive winters like last year though. We had some very cold temperatures. It could be that the plant has adjusted somewhat. I'll have to take cuttings of ours and give it a heavy mulch to see if I can get it to come back next year.

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