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 argentea
Biennial or short-lived perennial. From southern Europe and northwestern Africa. Soft, scallop-edged, silky-haired, silvery white leaves grow 6–10 in. long and form a low foliage rosette to 2 ft. wide. In summer, many-branched, 3–4-ft. flowering stems bear 1 1/4-in.-long, hooded white flowers (sometimes tinged pink or yellow) with silvery calyxes. Cut to the ground when flowers fade. Makes a handsome focal point for the front of a border. Protect from slugs and snails. ‘Hobbit’s Foot’ grows into a 1-ft. mound with furry basal leaves.
Native to Iran, Afghanistan, and central Asia. Absolutely covered with slender, sinuous spikes of...
Native to Mexico and Guatemala. Grown in the Zones 1–24, but must be lifted and stored in cold-w...
Native to East Asia; forms fans of sword-shaped leaves from slowly creeping rhizomes. The plants are p...