Salvias are a diverse, multipurpose, and colourful group of plants.
No Subtropical or warm climate cottage garden is complete without a salvia.
Furthermore, if you are a big fan of bringing bees, birds, and other wildlife in your garden, you’ll need to get serious about salvias.
In my garden I have gone salvia crazy, and for good reason. Salvias can handle tough love, and once established, can endure prolonged periods of dry weather.
Also, they act as wildlife attractors bringing in good bugs to combat pest problems by increasing the biodiversity of my patch.
Most importantly, I have gone crazy for salvias because they are just so incredibly beautiful.
Salvias are in the mint family (Lamiaceae), and as the name suggests encompasses many herbs including basil, rosemary, thyme, and culinary sage – which is a true salvia (Salvia officinalis). Salvias as a genus of the mint family are found all over the world, though the majority of ornamental species suited to Australia’s drier warmer climate derive from Central and South America.
I like working with all types of salvias as each variety offers something different to my garden scheme, not to mention salvias are just a unique grouping of plants to work with.
In different sections of my garden I use different types of Salvias. For instance, in my cottage garden I grow species such as S. leucantha the Mexican sage, along with S. microphylla, Salvia Hot lips – a personal favourite of mine.
These plants are long lived, and incredibly striking, giving me maximum street appeal from the front of my house.
On the other hand, in my edible garden, I grow salvias as a fast growing pioneer plants to establish greenery as well as bringing in pollinators and good bugs.
My favourite pioneer salvias include S. dorisiana the fruit salad sages as well as S. elegans the pineapple sage.
These salvias are medium sized shrubs displaying beautiful red and pink flowers.
The best thing about the fruit salad and pineapple sage, as you can imagine, is the smell of the foliage.
Crushing the leaves of the fruit salad or pineapple sage releases a sweet fruity fragrance.
Top tips for growing salvias:
Prune your salvias like you hate them. Once a salvia becomes overgrown, spent, and messy, give it a good prune. Don’t be afraid to cut back salvias by 75%. Trust me, they can take it.
Once new growth emerges, apply fish and seaweed emulsion to replenish the soil environment to supply nutrition to the recovering plant.