Say Sí to Salvias!

Say Sí to Salvias!

From being deer resistant and drought tolerant to attracting butterflies and bees, salvias are the smart choice for your landscape.

Although there are many special plants on our WaterSaver Landscape Coupon list, my favorite is Salvia, or more correctly all the Salvias because all the Salvias are included!

Salvias are at the top of my list because of their pest and deer resistance, drought tolerance, butterfly and bee attraction, and overall adaptability. Some species prefer full sun, others prefer partial shade. But all will tolerate a modest amount of sun and shade.

Plant Salvia October through April for maximum survivability and growth. Prune twice a year, once heavily the first week of March and once lightly the first week of August. Fertilize twice a year with compost. No manufactured fertilizer necessary.

Here are my favorites, listed by color.

Red

Scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea) – scarlet sage is frequently used in shade to partial shaded gardens.

Cedar sage (Salvia roemeriana) – cedar sage is a native Salvia that does best in partial shade. It’s a must for any San Antonio landscape, especially those north of Loop 1604

Autumn sage (Salvia greggii) – autumn sage, or Gregg’s sage, is by far the most common sage in our area. It comes in red, pink, purple, white and bi-color flowers. Pruning every year is an absolute must for this Salvia to maintain proper height and flowering.

Darcy sage (Salvia darcyi) – Darcy sage is noted for its heart-shaped leaves and spikes of red flowers. It makes a great companion plant to autumn sage.

Little-leaf sage (Salvia microphylla) – little-leaf sage is a recent arrival in the San Antonio Salvia world, but with minimum watering its compact shape makes it a wonderful low-growing plant for borders and pathways.

Mountain sage (Salvia regla) – in San Antonio, mountain sage prefers a partially shaded garden with thin, rocky soils. Definitely requires a light pruning in August to maintain height and induce flowering. And, it’s a hummingbird magnet!

Blue

Mealy cup sage (Salvia farinacea) – aka mealy blue sage is the most common blue sage for our area and a must for any San Antonio landscape. Like most of the blue Salvias, it will tolerate some shade. Wildlife enjoys its nectar and winter seeds. Two popular improved selections are ‘Henry Duelberg’ and ‘Victoria’.

Indigo spires sage (Salvia farinacea x longispicata) – this large blue Salvia is fast growing and sprawling. Does well in both sun and partial shade, but will require multiple pruning sessions during the growing season to maintain proper height. A more restrained selection is ‘Mystic spires’.

Giant blue sage (Salvia guaranitica) – aka majestic sage is a great Salvia for partially shaded gardens. It’s noted for its dark blue, almost black, flower stems and electric blue flowers.

There you have it — the best Salvias for San Antonio, in my honest professional opinion. Even better, you can still get 15 of these fantastic plants with a WaterSaver Landscape Coupon . But hurry, the application deadline Oct. 31!

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Mark Peterson

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Mark Peterson

Mark A. Peterson is a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you’re likely to find him hiking San Antonio’s wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.