Plant of the Month Jan 1992

A dear friend of mine came back from a fall trip to California and mentioned to me that everyone had salvia in their gardens. It was the "in" bedding plant this year for Californians. One just wasn't an "in" gardener unless one had planted salvia! That's the way it appeared anyway. My friend asked why she didn't see it around here.

Well, I didn't have a good answer for her. You may be asking, "What is salvia?" Salvia officinalis is commonly known as sage...the kind used in cooking. But, there are many kinds of salvia, mostly grown for the flowers. The variety my friend saw was most likely Salvia leucantha, Salvia leucantha does very well around here and should appear in landscapes around our county.

The great thing about salvia is that there are so many different varieties. They come in a wide range of colors from white to scarlet to blue. Native plant specialists are bringing in new varieties every year from Mexico and South America. These new varieties are well worth getting ahold of. They are often found at botanical gardens or arboretum plant sales.

Most salvias are drought tolerant and easy to care for. They have very attractive flowers. Some are native to arid areas such as Southern California and Arizona. Then, there is the salvia used in cooking, which has a place in every herb garden. I think it would be fun to set up a garden with as many different varieties of salvia as could be found. It would probably end up as a very sizeable garden. Maybe there is a spot for a salvia in your garden!

Peter Whitman
January, 1992