Salvias (ornamental sages) are amongst these rare plants that can do it all!

These herbaceous perennials and sub-shrubs (they come back year after year) feature a long flowering season over the summer months, making it ideal even for small gardens or the balcony where every square inch counts.

They are perfect for pollinators, and bees will feast on these beauties for months.

They are aromatic. Although, you cannot use these for your sunday roast or that lovely herbal tea, some of the varieties boast of the most exquisite scent. They will take over once your wallflowers finish blooming, for months of fragrance in the garden.

Here are some of the best varieties to consider depending on your garden needs.


Salvia Nemorosa and Sylvestris: Compact forms for impact.

With their spikes of purple, pink or white flowers, ‘Nemorosa’ and ‘Sylvestris ‘ varieties, these are the bee-friendly superstars. They have a compact and erect habit which makes them ideal for smaller gardens.

Flowering season: Summer and Autumn.

Height and Spread: 0.5 x 0.5m on average.

Light requirements: Full Sun

Looks good with: Iberis (Candytuft) and Leucanthemum (Shasta daisy)

Photo: Salvia Nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ ©Windyridge Garden Centre


Salvia Greggii and Microphylla: Heavenly scented sub-shrubs.

These varieties are amongst the most fragrant. The flowers may be small but what they may lack in size, they definitely have it in number. These sub-shrubs are simply covered with flowers over the summer months .

Flowering season: Summer and Autumn.

Height and Spread: 0.8 x 0.8m on average.

Light requirements: Full Sun

Looks good with: Dahlias

Photos (left to right): ‘Pink Lips’, ‘Royal Bumble’ and ‘Amethyst Lips’. ©Windyridge Garden Centre


Large leaved Salvia: The most striking colours

With their trumpet-like flowers, these varieties make the show from May to September.  Fill the beds with deep purple, choking pink or fiery orange for a show-stopping display that lasts for months.

Flowering season: Late spring to early autumn

Height and Spread: 1 x 1m on average.

Light requirements: Full Sun

Looks good with: Hydrangea Paniculata and Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’

Photos (From left to right): ‘Love & Wishes‘, ‘Purple & Bloom‘ and ‘Ember’s Wish‘. ©Windyridge Garden Centre



Position: In general, Salvias are ideal for the front (smaller varieties of Nemorosa and Sylvestris, such as the ‘Marvel’ collection which was awarded at the Chelsea Flower Show) or the middle of the border.

Soil: They are tolerant of dryness. If you have a very heavy clay, it is best to add some sand or grit when planting for added drainage.

Maintenance: Salvias are low maintenance plants! They benefit from a pruning at the end of the season. This will help them to remain compact and dense.

Aspect: South or West. Like most aromatic plants, the more sun they get, the best the perfume!


So, unless you have a very shady garden, there is, really, no reason not to make a bit of space for these beauties!


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