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Salvia – ornamental herb plants

Salvia are ornamental herb plants which are related to culinary sage. Many have fragrant leaves and stunning flowers in red, purple, blue and other colours.

Salvia - blackcurrant sage - red flowers
Salvia – blackcurrant sage – red flowers

Salvias are tender shrubs and they will need some protection frost and cold weather in the UK, so it is useful to keep salvia plants in pots or take late summer cuttings from non-flowering stems to overwinter in a greenhouse.

Salvia plants are usually grown for their flowers (which are are often bright or deep colours) in late summer and autumn. Many salvias have fragrant leaves, Salvia elegans has a particularly strongly fragranced leaves.

Salvias can be grown in large pots or in a sunny border. Salvia plants are hungry and thirsty plants (they are related to mint). They like a good drink and if kept in pots they will need regular water and feed.

Some salvias can get quite large when planted in a garden border, and these may be too big for many small gardens. Smaller growing varieties such as Salvia elegans may be a good choice if you have limited space, and these can be grown in a pot too.

Salvias are native to the southern states of America, South America and Mexico, often growing in mountainous regions.
They require a well drained and sunny site (some such as Guatemalan leaf sage will be happier with some shade from the hottest sun).

Salvias are liked by many insects, including bees, butterflies and moths. Many of the leaves and flowers are edible and can be used in salads, or used to make teas.

Some of our favourite Salvia varieties

Salvia (blackcurrant sage) with red flowers

Salvia microphylla
Blackcurrant Sage
(red)

Small deep green aromatic, ovate leaves leaves and stunning deep red flowers (other varients are available with different colours).

Site: well drained soil and full sun

Semi-hardy, can cope with some frost, but pot grown plants can be placed in a greenhouse during very cold or icy weather.

Good for bees, butterflies and moths.

Leaves and flowers are edible.

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Salvia blue flowers

Salvia cacaliifolia
Guatemalan leaf sage
(blue)

This salvia has large triangular shaped leaves and tall spikes of royal blue flowers from July until October, which may droop and sprawl. If planted in a garden border it may spread.

Site: well drained soil and sun or part shade

Tender shrub which will need winter protection.
This salvia is best grown in a pot and over-wintered in a greenhouse as it will not tolerate heavy frost.

Good for bees, butterflies and moths.

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Salvia elegans red flowers

Salvia elegans “Honey Melon”
(red)

Small woody tender shrub with highly fragrant soft hairy leaves and spikes of narrow red flowers (which often droop down before the flowers open) in summer and autumn .

Site: well drained soil and sun or part shade

Semi-hardy, can cope with some frost, but pot grown plants can be placed in a greenhouse during very cold or icy weather.

Good for bees, butterflies and moths.

Leaves and flowers are edible.

We sometimes have a few Salvia plants available for sale, of the varieties above.