Plant of the Month – October, 2007

Salvia ‘Mystic Spires Blue’

At a glance
Latin Name: Salvia. longispicata x farinacea ‘Mystic Spires Blue’
Common Name: Mystic Spires Blue Salvia
Flowers: 10 inch spikes of pure deep blue
Foliage: Medium green
Mature height: 36 inches in flower
Hardiness: USDA Zone 7
Soil: Well drained
Exposure: Full sun
Water usage: Low
Sources: Local nurseries

For years I’ve complained that their really isn’t a good blue, short-flowered salvia that blooms continually all summer. I know someone reading this is screaming, “What about ‘Victoria Blue’?” It’s a good plant, but in reality it tends to cycle in and out of flower and then slow down during the really hot part of summer. Then there is ‘Indigo Spires,’ with lovely blue flowers in abundance, but who has room for this beast? It just gets too big and falls over, which I can’t stand. I just don’t have room or time for a 5- to 6-foot-tall salvia that needs constant pruning and staking to keep manageable.

Well, Ball FloraPlant must have been tuned into the needs of the southern gardener for a change, because ‘Mystic Spires Blue’ answers all of my problems. So, what is so special about ‘Mystic Spires Blue?’ It blooms constantly – all summer – with 10- to 12-inch spikes of deep blue flowers and stays short enough to use in residential landscapes without staking. ‘Mystic Spires Blue’ is basically a heavier flowering and more compact version of ‘Indigo Spires.’

I do disagree with the catalog description of the mature height of this plant at 12 to 14 inches. As usual, in Texas everything is bigger, and this plant is no exception. With good watering and fertilizer ‘Mystic Spires Blue’ will reach 3 feet in height, but the tough stems and heavy branching keep the plant full.

‘Mystic Spires Blue’ salvia is easy to grow. Plant it in full sun with well-drained soil, and water and fertilize regularly to keep it flowering. As the flower spikes finish blooming, you can give the plant a light haircut to keep it neater, but I have found this isn’t necessary for re-flowering.

With good winter drainage ‘Mystic Spires Blue’ should be perennial in Zone 7, southward. If you are in a cooler area don’t let this deter you.

This salvia shouldn’t be relegated to clumps in a perennial border. ‘Mystic Spires Blue’ looks incredible used in mass plantings or as upright accents in containers. This one is destined to be a staple of both bedding and perennial designs in Texas.

About the author: Jimmy Turner is the Director of Horticulture Research at the Dallas Arboretum. For more plant profiles by Jimmy, subscribe to Neil Sperry’s GARDENS Magazine.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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