PRODUCTION

Salvia: The Flower of Summer with Mike Darcy


June 10, 2024

Macro shot of a bee pollinating a pink salvia flower

For many gardeners, the letter ‘S’ not only stands for Summer but also for Salvia. For me and my garden, I’ll take the ‘S’ for Salvia! There are few plants in one genus that can provide all that a Salvia can. They are diverse in flower, fragrance, growth pattern, and color. An added bonus is that most of the flowers are highly attractive to hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. With new varieties appearing on the market every year, the diversity and selection just gets larger.

Black knight salvia and victoria salvia

Winter Hardiness & Regional Considerations

When buying Salvia plants, and other plants as well, it is always a good idea to check the plant tag to get some information on the winter hardiness. I live and garden in the Willamette Valley and the winter temperatures in my garden are going to be milder than, for example, that in Bend. However, regardless of the winter cold, most Salvia plants can thrive in the summer season throughout our region.

Tri-R Sales, Stonescape Square Ivory Planter

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BioAdvanced, 2 in 1 Rose and Flower Care, 5 lb.

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Woman watering Salvia Nemorosa in pot

Soil Drainage & Sun Requirements

Most of the Salvias that are available in garden centers and that are widely planted in gardens, need good drainage. If the soil is heavy or poor draining, add pumice at the time of planting. I also like to add an all-purpose organic fertilizer at this time. Most Salvia plants do best in a full sun location, but I have found that many will still perform well with some protection from the hot afternoon summer sun. This is another reason to check the plant tag because it will provide that information.

Common Sage (Salvia officinalis) aromatic herb and spice varieties

Versatile Sage Varieties

The cooking herb sage is a Salvia and these plants are very easy to grow. A pot of sage on a deck or patio can probably provide all the culinary needs throughout the summer season. These herbs can also provide color with their leaves which range from green to purple to variegated forms, some which have green and yellow foliage. For a kaleidoscope of color, tri-color sage has gray-green leaves with creamy white and pink stripes.

pineapple sage (salvia elegans) flowers in bloom

Pineapple Sage: A Late Bloomer with a Sweet Reward

Many Salvia plants will be in bud or bloom when purchased in the garden center. However, pineapple sage tends to hold off on blooming until late summer and early fall and the wait is worthwhile. The leaves, when crushed, have a strong aroma of pineapple and can be used in drinks and fruit salads. When the scarlet red flowers appear, they will be a hummingbird magnet! For added color, there is a form with yellow-green foliage which makes a stark contrast to the scarlet flowers. Pineapple sage is generally not winter hardy and should be treated as an annual. It also does like some shade.

Salvia varieties 'Black & Blue’, ‘Argentina Skies’, and ‘Amistad’

Continuous Bloomers & Container Favorites

For continuous flowering all summer and into the fall season, look for names like ‘Black & Blue’, ‘Argentina Skies’, ‘Purple Majesty’, and ‘Amistad’. To prolong the bloom period, snap the flower stems off when the flowers fade. New growth will soon appear, and flowers will soon follow. These plants make excellent container plants because they provide color all summer.

Real Wood Products, Oak Half Whiskey Barrel Planter, B100

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Border Concepts, Aristocrat Amsterdam Planter

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Tri-R Sales, Stonescape Planter

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Salvia ‘Roman Red’: A Garden Showstopper

For a showstopper in the garden, try Salvia ‘Roman Red’. Masses of red flowers appear on spikes that rise above the foliage. I grew this in a large pot on our deck last summer and the flowering was profuse, and the bright red flowers were spectacular.

Salvia splendins Scarlet Sage

Expanding Your Salvia Collection

If you have not grown Salvia recently, check the selection in the garden center. You might be surprised at the diversity of the flowers and foliage that are available and most are easy to grow. If you have grown Salvia recently, try a new one! I am sure that there will be one that you have not grown before!

Border Concepts, Bora Bora Moss Urn

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WFS, Garden Cultivator

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WFS, Garden Trowel

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Plastic Watering Can, 2 gal.

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Wilco, Organic Potting Soil

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Mike’s garden is located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and his advice is consistent with the mild climate there. His opinions of what works for his garden and backyard. Always read labels of products before using them. Your Wilco team is available if you have any questions specific to your area.

We would love to see your garden growing, use #mywilcolife on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and tag Wilco Stores.

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