Salvia Perennials

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Salvia perennials are members of a plant group of some 900 species. As such, they are cousin to shrubs and annuals. While generally thought of as being primarily blue or purple, some salvia species are cream, yellow, white, and pink.

Somewhat of a type with astilbe, salvia perennials bloom in long spikes. The flowers are more robust than delicate, however, despite the tiny individual flowers that make up the spike. The foliage, also, is bushy rather than fern-like. Lovers of full sun, salvia perennials are especially attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. Research is warranted into the many varieties, especially for those who design their gardens in part to attract birds.

Notable Salvia Perennials

Among the more reliable salvias for the garden are the varieties of Salvia superba. Its 1.5 inch flowers are carried on 18 to 36 inch spikes that rise out of clumps of grayish-green foliage remarkably like sage. May Night and Blue Hill are two cultivars popular with gardeners.

The Marcus perennial (Salvia nemorosa Marcus) is also considered an invaluable salvia, especially for border displays. These bloom in early and midsummer, about 10 to 12 inches high, into a deep blue. Both deer and rabbit resistant, the Marcus does well in containers, rock displays, borders, and edgings. It is also effective massed, in part thanks to the dense characteristic foliage and the richness of its blooms.

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