Question: I’d like to use perennial salvias in my landscape. Which types work best, and how tall and wide will they grow?
Answer: There are many great salvias, some annuals, but most of the really good ones being perennials. Salvia greggii (autumn sage) is the most perennial, almost looking like a small woody shrub. In its various forms it produces red, pink, purple, coral and white flowers. The plants grow to 18 inches tall and wide. Mealy cup sage (S. farinacea) may work as a perennial, but, even if you use it just as an annual, it’s great. It produces 18-inch spikes of blue-violet flowers (white forms are also available). Mass it as a bedding plant, and it will bloom for months. Stars of the fall show are Mexican bush sage (S. leucantha), with its 4-foot plants and long purple-and-white spikes. Butterflies love it. ‘Indigo Spires’ grows to 42 to 48 inches tall and covers itself with foot-long blue-purple bloom spikes. You’ll also want pineapple sage (S. elegans). It’s bright green while it grows, blooming scarlet red in the fall. Its leaves, when crushed, have the wonderful aroma of fresh pineapple. It is less tolerant of winter cold than the other types listed.