Southern Gardening: Choose perennial sage for frequent victories in the garden

Southern Gardening: Choose perennial sage for frequent victories in the garden

Sometimes it seems like I need a bigger garden because, unfortunately, I don't have the space for every great plant to write about. But there is one group of plants that I make sure to make room for and that is perennial sage.

Year after year, sagebrush perennials are some of the most accomplished landscaping plants. Salvias come in a few species and hybrids, and you can't go wrong with having any of them in your garden. Here are some of our top perennial sage picks.

Victoria Blue Salvia is botanically Salvia farencia. This upright planter has been a garden favorite for a while; It was the 1998 Mississippi Medallion winner. This selection displays large, beautiful, deep blue flower spikes from late spring to fall frost. A very beautiful white variety called Victoria White.

Rockin' Playin' the Blues salvia is a selection I've been developing for six years. This is an interspecific hybrid, a cross between Salvia longispicata and Farinacea. I'd like to think it should be included in the “Best of Gary Park.”

The plant produces beautiful blue flowers throughout the summer, and its blue sepals remain after the actual flower petals have fallen. This means that the color has a longer lasting landscape effect. The plant is sterile, meaning the gorgeous flowers don't produce any seeds that could become a weed problem.

Look for other products in the Rockin' Series: Rockin' Deep Purple, Rockin' Fuchsia, and Rockin' Golden Delicious.

A sage plant that creates real neighborhood interest in an Ocean Springs landscape is Black and Bloom, or Salvia guaranitica. Throughout the summer, the dark blue flowers contrast with the black calyx displayed on the black stems. Black and Bloom seems to laugh at Mississippi summer conditions of heat, dryness and humidity.

Mexican bush sage, or Salvia leucantha, is one of the largest garden plants, potentially reaching more than 5 feet tall. I love the fuzzy texture of the foliage and the velvety flowers.

A shorter variety called Santa Barbara has bright purple and white flowers that are prominent from spring to fall. This plant is drought tolerant, which is a great trait considering our typical summer weather. This plant is considered a tender perennial in northern Mississippi and should be covered for the winter.

Mexican Bush Salvia is a photoperiodic plant and needs short days to bloom. This is the perfect choice for short days in the fall garden.

Always plant your perennials in full sun in well-drained, well-drained soil. The blue and purple flowers pair well with many of your favorite annuals and perennials, especially those with yellow and gold hues.

Whichever perennial sage you choose will attract pollinators. Every summer, my sage plants are covered with bumblebees, honeybees, and all manner of butterflies—especially swallowtails—that enjoy the nectar-filled flowers. The hummingbird even pounces on delicious snacks.

Perennial sage plants are easy to care for and low-maintenance, leaving you time to enjoy and enjoy the garden.

Gary Bachman is Extension and Research Professor of Horticulture at Mississippi State University's Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi, and hosts Southern Gardening's television and radio shows. Contact him at (email protected).

Gary Bachman Southern Gardening

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    (tags for translation) Gary Bachman

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