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Salvia x sylvestris

Lamiaceae (Labiatae)


Thought of as drought-tolerant shrubs in much of the West, this huge genus—the largest in the mint family—includes many species of shrubs and perennials that need moderate to regular water. In recent years, scores of new species and selections have appeared in Western nurseries, many tender varieties that are even being offered as annuals in cold-winter climates. All sages have square stems and whorls of two-lipped flowers, either distinctly spaced along flower stalks or so tightly crowded that they look like one dense spike; some species have branched inflorescences. Flower colors range from white and yellow through salmon and pink to scarlet and pure red, from pale lavender to true blue and darkest purple. A few sages have fragrant blossoms. Many have aromatic foliage.

Nurseries in the West offer nearly 100 species as well as dozens of selections and hybrids. Names are often confused; S. x jamensis varieties are often assigned to S. greggii; and S. nemorosa varieties are often interchanged with S. x superba and S. x sylvestris varieties. 

Salvia x sylvestris

Perennial. Like its parent S. nemorosa but more compact, with stems that are less leafy. Oblong to lance-shaped, medium green, scalloped leaves are wrinkled, softly hairy. Typically unbranched or few-branched flowering stems to 6–8 in. long, set with pinkish violet, 1/2-in. blossoms. Blooms summer through fall if faded flowers are removed.

‘Blauhugel’ (‘Blue Hill’). Grows to 2 ft.; has medium blue flowers.

‘Blue Queen’. Grows to 18 in. high and wide.

‘Mainacht’ (‘May Night’). Grows to 2–2 1/2 ft., bears 3/4-in. indigo flowers with green bracts (purplish at base), begins blooming in midspring.

‘Rosakonigen’ (‘Rose Queen’). Grows to 2 ft. high, with purplish pink flowers and crimson bracts.

‘Schneehugel’ (‘Snow Hill’). Bears pure white blossoms with green bracts on a 2-ft. plant.

‘Viola Klose’. Grows to 18 in. high and wide; has lavender-blue flowers.

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