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The wonderful world of salvias

Salvias are a bit of a dream come true for all of us but particularly for the novice gardener. They come in a huge range of shapes and sizes. They grow in any well drained soil, in full sun and they put on a good show that attracts bees and butterflies alike.

Lazy loveliness

My favourite variety (of around 900 different salvias) is Jezebel. It grows to be nearly a metre tall and has gorgeous hot red blooms that add colour and interest to the back of the border. In the spirit of impartiality, however, I must tell you that salvias also come in blue, purple and white as well as some yellows and pinks.

If your border isn’t in full sun, choose one of the lighter-coloured flowering varieties, that will tolerate semi shade. They don’t flower as prolifically, but will still make a fantastic insect friendly addition to your patch – with very little effort!


The salvia is part of the sage family and was believed by the ancient Greeks and Romans to have medicinal properties. In fact the name Salvia is taken from the Latin, salvere, which means “to heal.”

If you’d like to cure your garden of needing a hose pipe (who doesn’t?) then the salvia can certainly oblige. It thrives in well mulched ground and doesn’t even need a feed to produce beautiful blooms, pretty much continuously throughout the summer – just remember to deadhead. Then in winter, leave the seed heads for the birds and after the first frost, cut the dead shoots down to around an inch from the soil.


Salvias are actually easy to propagate. Before flowering, remove stems that are about three inches long (just above a node), remove lower leaves add a bit of hormone powder and pot up, covered in a greenhouse or cold frame for three weeks. However, the salvia is a prolific self-seeder, so if it’s happy, you should find you’ve got a few extra plants courtesy of nature.

What have we got in at the moment?

From left to right or top to bottom:

  1. Caradonna - upright racemes of violet-purple throughout the summer above narrow, aromatic grey green leaves. Height and spread upto 0.5m

  2. Trebah Lilac White - lilac/white flowers on long stems over aromatic stiff green foliage. Height and spread upto 0.5m

  3. Amethyst Lips - aromatic ovate leaves with delicate flowers that are purple or white at different times of the year. Typically purple and white from early summer to autumn. Height and spread 0.5m - 1m


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