Salvia nemorosa flowers

What to grow with salvias

Discover how to make the most of perennial salvias with these fantastic plant combinations.

Perennial salvias make wonderful garden plants. They come in a range of colours and forms and their flowers are a magnet for bees and butterflies. Growing to a height of around 60cm, they work well with a huge variety of plants, including those with silver foliage, and mixed herbaceous perennials such as diascias and penstemons. They thrive in full sun and free-draining soil and will flower from June until the first frosts.

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While most are tender, some shrubby salvias are hardy and can be overwintered outside if growing in free-draining soil. In colder regions, or if you’re growing more tender varieties, you can dig up the plants and overwinter them under cover. Alternatively, take summer cuttings to insure against winter losses.

Discover our pick of plants to grow with salvias, below.

They thrive in full sun and free-draining soil and will flower from June until the first frosts.

Stipa and eryngium

Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna' growing with Eryngium
Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ growing with Eryngium

This striking combination makes the most of feathery ornamental grass Stipa tenuissima, which brings out the contrasting spiky, silvery blue eryngium flowerheads. These are further complemented by the backdrop of dark purple Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’. Easy to grow and long-lasting, this would work in a low-maintenance border or prairie scheme.


Agapanthus

Blue-flowering agapanthus grows with Salvia agrostemma

In this hot colour combination, Salvia agrostemma, with the matching pink wall in the background, brings out the blue of the agapanthus flowers. It’s the perfect partnership for a sun-baked patio, and would work well as a container display.


Petunia, astelia and ground ivy

Container planted with Salvia nemerosa, Salvia caradonna, purple petunia, Astelia and Glecoma hederacea

This short-term container display features Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ planted around contrasting strap-leaved astelia and underplanted with ground ivy and petunia. While all different shapes, the flowers are a similar colour, which is enhavced by the blue of the pot and the fresh green foliage. The overall appearance is of a very uniform look. As time wears on, the ground ivy and petunia will spill over the sides of the pot and the salvias will grow tall. By autumn the plants will have out-grown this pot. Simply replant them in the borders and create a fresh display next spring.


Heuchera flowers

Salvia 'Amistad' with heuchera flowers
Salvia ‘Amistad’ with heuchera flowers

This arresting combination contrasts the sumptuous, velvety purple flowers of Salvia ‘Amistad’ with delicate, simple pink heuchera flowers. Both the colour and form of each flower enhance the beauty of the other.


Foxtail barley

Foxtail barley grows with with Salvia 'Mainacht'
Foxtail barley grows with with Salvia ‘Mainacht’

In large gardens, you can play with form and colour on a large scale. Here the soft, shimmering foxtail barley contrasts with erect, dark purple flowers of Salvia ‘Mainacht’. Perfect for a prairie-style planting scheme, both the barley and the salvia catch the evening light to dramatic effect.

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More flowers to grow with salvias

Ox-eye daisy. Leucanthemum vulgare.