(Shinano-akigiri) Japan's largest island, Honshu, is home to Salvia koyamae, a shade- and moisture-loving herbaceous perennial. It is notable for arrow-shaped foliage and translucent, yellow flowers blooming from late summer into fall.
Large and lush, the yellow-green hairy leaves of this sage form loose, gently spreading clumps. Although it can tolerate some morning sun, this is a shade-loving sage. It is a hardy choice for shady groundcovers, borders, containers, woodland settings and moist areas.
An underused gem of a plant, Salvia koyamae and presents the added bonus of being disagreeable to deer. Highly recommended.
These are species that produce woody stems, but die back to the ground in the winter in all but the warmest climates. In warm winter areas these can become woody shrubs, but they generally benefit from the following pruning methods.
Pruning is both an art and a science. It takes practice, experience and learning from your mistakes to become a proficient pruner. The pruning information about this plant should be considered as a guideline for getting started. Your particular climate, soils, watering and fertility schedules, sun exposure, space requirements and weather are all factors that influence how and when you choose to prune. We’re providing a starting place for you, and over time you will learn the particularities of this plant in your garden. Don’t be afraid to get started – Salvias, in general, are quick to rebound if inappropriately pruned.
Deadheading – the removal of spent flowers, is a practice that will always benefit the plant’s health and appearance. This can be done at any time. Pruning involves removal of entire stems of spent growth. Becoming "spent" means that flowering stems stop blooming and begin going to seed.
(Campanula Leaf Sage) Spectacular yellow-flowering Salvias are rare, so this one stands out. Its large, almost round leaves form a basal clump that is attractive and tough. Bright yellow flowers arise from the clump on stems up to 48 inches tall.
This hardy herbaceous perennial comes from the mountains of Central China and is rarely seen in the United States. We highly recommend this moisture-tolerant plant for shady perennial borders and woodland-style gardens.
(Red Sage, Chinese Sage, Dan-shen) The bright red, finger-like roots of Salvia miltiorrhiza have a long history in traditional Chinese herbal medicine. We offer this important plant on a limited basis.
WebMD reports that Danshen is used in Asia to treat a number of cardiovascular problems and "appears to thin the blood by preventing platelet and blood clotting." It is the subject of ongoing medical research.
Danshen has fragrant lavender flowers that bloom in summer and seem to glow in the shade. This woodland plant grows well in partial shade. It prefers rich, well-drained soil and can handle ample moisture. Native to Asia, including areas that experience winter chill, it grows well in USDA Zones 6 to 9.
This is a petite plant rising from 12 to 24 inches tall. Danshen looks lovely in mixed borders with Hostas and other woodland plants. It is also a fine choice for edging shady pathways where you can view it up close.
(Himalayan Cloud Sage) Nepal's Muktinath Valley -- a sacred site for Hindus and Buddhists -- is the place to go to see this majestically tall shade perennial in the wild. It grows at altitudes up to 14,000 feet and often emerges while the ground is still snowy.
The creamy yellow flowers have thin purple markings and bloom throughout summer. They grow about 1 to 1 1/2 inches long on flower spikes that rise up 4 feet or taller by late summer.
In America, this fragrant, cold-hardy sage is adaptable from USDA Zone 5 to 10. In cooler climates, it grows well in full sun whereas a bit of shade is best In warmer zones. We find that it thrives in rich, well-drained garden soil with ample water. However, it is resilient and survives in less than ideal conditions.
Use this sage in mixed perennial borders and moist woodland gardens. It is also eye-catching as an accent plant and sensual due to its fragrance. You might want to try it in locations where you are likely to brush against it, such as an entryway.
We love and highly recommend this one. Demand often exceeds supply; deer resist it, but customers can't.
(Yunnan Sage or yun nan shu wei cao) Yunnan Sage's tall spikes of violet-to-purple flowers bloom from summer into fall. Native to Southwestern China's provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan, it grows on shady, grassy hillsides and along forest margins at elevations up to 9,500 feet.
This is an important medicinal sage in Asia. Its bright red taproots are made into herbal remedies used to strengthen the immune system. Research laboratories are just now identifying the active ingredients, after a millennium of use by the Chinese.
Yunnan Sage tolerates cold as well as heat. It needs partial to full shade, average to plentiful water and well-drained soil. Plant it in moist areas, woodland gardens, perennial borders and along pathways where you can see it close up.
(Cayman Island Sage) Compact and intensely fragrant, this shrubby sage is excellent for containers or the edge of a pathway. Small blue and white flowers mass about its densely branched foliage. It loves rich, moist soil and warm weather.
Cayman Island Sage does well in full sun or partial shade. However, it goes semi-dormant during cool weather, so in colder zones it should be grown as an annual or a greenhouse container plant. In warmer areas, it makes a fine ground cover or woodland garden plant.
When children visit FBTS, this rare Salvia always wins the "What smells strongest in the nursery?" contest. It has quite a history. Read all about it at London's Royal Botanic Gardens website.
(Makino) We would grow this rare clone of the woodland Japanese native Salvia glabrescens even if it never flowered, because the hairless, arrow-shaped foliage is so lush, toothed and colorful. As they age, the arrow-shaped leaves transform from yellowish green to dark green.
This is a plant for moist, shady garden spots, but can take a bit of morning sun. It is hardy as long as it receives plenty of shade, water and soil that is rich and well-drained. In autumn, short spikes of small, pink and purple two-tone flowers rise out of compact basal foliage, creating a gracefully proportioned look.
Makino should be seen up close both for its extraordinary flowers and lush foliage. Plant it in a container, along a shady pathway or as a woodland groundcover. Although slow growing, this tough yet lovely sage is worth the wait. Fortunately, deer don't like it.
(Japanese Woodland Sage or Shu Wei Cao) This short, lavender-flowered, ornamental sage has purple-to-green foliage. In Asia, this woodland plant has long been an important medicinal herb, used in the treatment of conditions such as diabetes.
Aside from being pretty, the foliage of Salvia japonica has been eaten during times of famine. In addition to Japan, it is found in Korea, China and Taiwan.
Although its 24-inch spikes of airy flowers are pretty, it is the richly purpled new growth of this mounding sage that particularly attracts attention as a groundcover or border edging. Give it moist, rich soil and partial shade.
(Pale Sage) Powder blue flowers are cupped by lavender calyxes on this lovely yet little-used sage native to moist meadows in Argentina. It is a tall, narrow plant with delightful oval-shaped leaves with scalloped margins.
Salvia pallida flowers profusely over a long season from late summer into fall. Its flower spikes can reach up to 5 feet tall. This is a most useful plant where a vertical accent is needed. The surprising height and verticality also make this sage a valuable background plant. Translated literally as "Pale Sage," this ethereal plant grows well in full sun to partial shade, and even does well in woodland gardens with morning sun. Give this rare plant regular watering and rich, well-drained soil.
Thanks go to Andrés González of Palmar, Soriano, Uruguay, who took our catalog photos in situ.
(Guanajuato Giant Gentian Sage) At 3 inches long, the flowers of this Gentian Sage are the largest of any we grow. Guanjuato Giant is also unique for its tall, upright growth and heavily textured foliage.
Spikes of deep, true blue flowers that rise up to 48 inches tall make this perennial sage a standout in the garden from summer into fall. This Gentian Sage is reliably perennial in USDA Zones 8 to 11. Its spectacular flowers also make it a fine choice as a summer bedding plant in areas with colder winters.
Guanjuato Giant likes regular watering and rich, well-drained soil. It does fine in full sun or partial shade and can handle moist corners of the yard. Use it as a path edging, border, groundcover or container plant.
German botanist Karl Hartweg discovered the Salvia patens species in 1838. British horticulturist Graham Stuart Thomas later called it "the best plant in cultivation."
Although, true blue is not a part of the color spectrum that hummingbirds favor, they are attracted to Gentian Sages especially when mixed with red-flowered sages.
(White Trophy Gentian Sage) White Trophy loves partial shade and is the finest white Salvia patens available, with very large flowers that age to pale blue.
Since the 1838 discovery of this herbaceous species from Central Mexico, Salvia patens has been a mainstay of the perennial garden. British horticulturist Graham Stuart Thomas called Salvia patens "the best plant in cultivation."
Well branched and compact, this shade-loving variety has 2 1/2-inch flowers that bloom summer into fall. It is a reliable perennial, returning year after year in Zones 8 to 11. However, it is so lovely that it is worth growing as a summer bedding plant in colder zones. Whether grown as a perennial or annual, it is a perfect companion to any of the blue-flowered Gentian Sages.
White Trophy can handle moist corners of the yard. Water it regularly and provide rich, well-drained soil. It looks pretty edging a shady path and in border, groundcover or container plantings.
Highly recommended by butterflies, but not by deer!
Hummingbirds love Salvia (sage) nectar and are attracted to it by the bright colors of tubular sage blossoms. In particular, these little whirlybirds can easily spot flowers in the red spectrum, which is prevalent among sages. Here are some hummingbird gardening tips.
If you live in suburbs or rural areas where deer plunder gardens, Salvias (sages) can be part of your plan for discouraging these hungry visitors. Here are some tips.