6 Reasons to Love Salvias
I’m a plant lover, but I can also be a bit of a plant snob. My yard has a finite amount of space. I can’t afford to buy every plant in the world. And with my busy work schedule (especially in spring), I only have so much time to spend in my yard. I’m selective about plants, and salvias usually make the cut. Here’s why.
1. Salvia Attracts Hummingbirds
When I lived in Iowa, I had a big pot of Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ in my yard. I noticed every weekend, as I enjoyed a cup of tea before I went out in the yard, it was the first plant the hummingbirds visited. They stopped by to sip its nectar before they went to any of my red flowers like bee balm, lantana, mandevilla, penstemon, pentas. Now that I’m in Florida, I’m noticing the same thing with my Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ again. Shown here is a butterfly visiting Mexican sage (Salvia leucantha). Just about any variety of salvia should do to help bring these winged wonders to your yard! The folks at Horticulture magazine also recommend the following:
> Salvia clevelandii
> Salvia elegans
> Salvia greggii
> Salvia leucophylla
> Salvia madresnsis
> Salvia microphylla
> Salvia regla
> Salvia spathacea
2. Salvia Attracts Butterflies
Many hummingbird flowers are also attractive to butterflies—and salvias are no exception. The butterflies (and neighborhood honey bees!) always seem to be partaking in the nectar and pollen on my ‘Evolution Violet’ and ‘Victoria Blue’ salvia plants.
Tip: Growing varieties their caterpillars eat is attracts more butterflies to your yard than growing nectar plants.
Get tips to start your own butterfly garden.
3. Salvia Is Deer- and Rabbit-Resistant
Most salvia varieties have oils in their leaves. These oils are what give the plants their distinctive fragrance when you brush up against or rub the leaves. I’ve found that, as a general tip, the more strongly scented a plant is, the more likely deer and rabbits are to ignore it.
Tip: No plant is truly deer or rabbit proof. If they’re hungry enough, these critters will usually eat just about anything. Even poisonous plants.
Discover more deer-resistant plants.
4. Salvia Is Drought-Tolerant
Many salvias, at least, are pretty drought tolerant once established. If you don’t like to have to haul a hose around the yard when it’s hot out, then salvias may be for you. That said, while they do hold their own in dry weather, they grow and bloom best when watered during extended periods without rain.
Tip: Even drought-tolerant plants appreciate regular watering the first few weeks after you plant them. This helps them adapt to your yard and get rooted in your soil.
Find more tips to keep your yard looking good when it's dry.
5. Salvia Flower Spikes Add Garden Interest
When I’m at the garden center, it seems that a lot of the annual and perennials I see grow in mounding shapes. A garden full of mounds can be a little boring. Happily, upright plants with blooms in spikes help break up the texture and add a little excitement. I think of them like little exclamation points in my yard.
6. There’s a Wide Variety to Choose from
Dig into salvias, and you’ll find there’s a practically unlimited number from which to choose. I tend to design my garden with lots of blues and purples. Here in Florida, I grow varieties like ‘Black and Blue’, ‘Evolution Violet’, and ‘Victoria Blue’, as well as ‘Grandstand Purple’ when I can find it.
There are also some fabulous varieties with red and pink flowers, too. The new variety ‘Skyscraper Orange’, for example, did well in our Miami Trial Garden. And ‘Golden Delicious’ pineapple sage features chartreuse foliage with pineapple-scented foliage and blooms all winter.