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.
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
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.
In this contrasting colour combination, Salvia nemorosa brings out the icy white-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
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 enhanced 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.
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.
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.