Salvia: Growing Guide

Annual, biennial and hardy perennial plants, some less beautiful , but mostly attractive.


Annual species in beds or in the annual border; biennials as infilling especially in borders; perennials in the border or in other plant combinations.


Salvias will thrive in any reasonable garden soil.


Annuals are sown from mid to late winter onwards in a heated greenhouse or frame, and are pricked out and grown on in warm conditions. They are then pricked out for a second time, hardened off, and planted outside towards the end of spring. Biennials are sown in early summer in a shady position, pricked out once and transferred to their permanent position in early autumn, to flower in the following year. Perennials are increased by division in spring.


Salvia farinacea: Height 60-80 cm; very beautiful violet- blue flowers from mid to late summer until well into autumn. ‘Blue Bedder’ is one of the finest strains, and well worth growing.

Salvia splendens: Height to 30 cm; glaring red flowers from late spring to mid autumn, there are also white and pink strains. In my opinion this is the least attractive species, but it is sold more than any other. Biennials

Salvia sclarea, clary: Height to 150 cm; very prolonged flowering, the flowers blue white in colour; a fine plant. Salvia viridis syn Salvia horminum: Height 50 cm; pink or white flowers with large violet or red bracts in summer months. ‘White Swan’ is pure white. Hardy perennials

Salvia officinalis, sage: Height to 60 cm; pale-violet or white flowers in late spring and early summer; large, grey-green leaves. A well known kitchen herb, there are a number of ornamental forms with purple or blue-green foliage with paler spots.

Salvia X superba: Height 60-90 cm; flowering season early summer to early autumn; blue flowers in erect-growing spikes, violet-purple bracts. The best known cultivar is ‘Ostfriesland’, height to 50 cm, deep-violet flowers, very prolonged flowering season. Will thrive in quite poor soil.

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