Salvia (Woodland/Meadow Sage)
A true garden staple, perennial Salvia blooms are a sure sign that summer is here, offering a versatile pop of color sure to brighten up sunny plantings. Salvia nemorosa (SAL-vee-uh nem-or-OH-suh), with square stems and scented foliage characteristic of the mint family, Lamiaceae, is native to a large span of central Europe and western Asia. Referred to as meadow sage or woodland sage, the species epithet, nemorosa, translates to “of woods” in relation to where it was first discovered.
Blooming most abundantly from late spring through early summer, meadow sage produces numerous tall spikes composed of many small, tubular flowers, ranging in color from blues to pinks and purples, as well as white. Following their initial summer performance, Salvia often begin to lay down and lean, but don’t fret, another show is just around the corner. After blooming, trim spent blooming stems back by half to encourage dense summer growth and another flush of color. With deadheading and pruning as needed, Salvia will continue to provide you with beauty and color all season long, so don’t be afraid to bring out the pruners and give your plants a little rejuvenating summer haircut here and there. Thankfully, their coarse leaf texture and scented foliage will also make sure that you are the only one trimming your Salvia back, not your local deer and rabbit population.
Preferring moist, well-drained soils in areas of full sun, and drought tolerant once established, Salvia is excellent for sunny borders, cottage gardens, pollinator gardens, and rock gardens, and is stunning when massed or used in cut flower arrangements. Mature plants range in size from one to two feet in width and one to three feet in height, available in a wide range of sizes and appearances, such as the tall royal purple blooms and dark stems of ‘Caradonna,’ the compact size and bright pink flowers of ‘Rose Marvel’ or blue flowers of ‘Blue Marvel,’ or the moderately sized, dense pink blooms of ‘Apex Pink.’ With the endless varieties and versatility of Salvia, you are bound to find at least a few fantastic varieties of this classic perennial to bring home for you garden.