Salvias really earn their keep in the garden. The great range of colours and forms makes them indispensable border plants, while the nectar-rich flowers are magnets for bumblebees and butterflies.
Caring for salvias is easy, if you plant them in the right location. Shrubby and hardy herbaceous salvias can be overwintered if they’re given good drainage and as much sun as possible.
In colder spots, tuberous half-hardy salvias, like Salvia patens, will need to be mulched or lifted, like dahlias.
Finally, most woody-based and tender salvias will need to be moved to a warmer area in the colder months, or can alternatively be grown in a conservatory.
Discover 16 spectacular salvias that we spotted at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015, below.
Salvia x jamensis ‘Sierra San Antonio’
Growing to a height of 75cm, this shrubby perennial salvia will produce a profusion of creamy yellow and peach coloured flowers. Plant ‘Sierra San Antonio’ in full sun, and provide good drainage to ensure its hardiness. Very drought-tolerant.
Salvia ‘Love and Wishes’
A sensational new hybrid, ‘Love and Wishes’ has a generous flowering period, usually from June to November. Rich red-purple flowers, deep burgundy stems and a tidy growth habit make this a great choice for containers. Will grow in partial shade or full sun.
Salvia ‘Flower Child’
Salvia ‘Flower Child’ has a more compact growth form compared with other salvias. Bright pink flowers provide a striking contrast to the darker, blue-green foliage.
If you want to add drama to your garden, look no further than ‘Javier’. Masses of velvety black buds open to reveal bright mauve-purple flowers, all contrasting with lime green foliage. Grows to around 65cm in height and is drought-tolerant.
Salvia leucantha ‘Purple Velvet’
‘Purple Velvet’ is a woody salvia producing deep purple flowers held on towering stems, which can reach 1m in height. The calyces have a distinctive downy appearance. Not fully hardy, so ensure adequate protection is given in winter.
Salvia ‘Dyson’s Joy’
Salvia ‘Dyson’s Joy’ is an exciting bi-coloured hybrid, perfect for dry spots in the garden. Flowers profusely from May to November and is hardy in most areas if provided with full sun and good drainage. Can grow to 60cm in height.
An ideal choice if you need a hardy salvia. Deep purple stems bear luminescent violet blooms, extremely popular with bees. ‘Serenade’ can grow reasonably tall, to around 70cm, and can be grown in partial shade or full sun.
Salvia patens ‘Cambridge Blue’
Few flowers match the cornflower-blue blooms of ‘Cambridge Blue’, which contrast beautifully with the deep green foliage. In colder areas, mulch or lift the tubers, as with dahlias. Watch out for slugs, which enjoy the young shoots.
Salvia cacaliifolia is a native of Southern Mexico and Central America that produces eye-catching indigo flowers held on tall stems, which can reach 90cm in height, and has bright green foliage. Half-hardy, so provide winter protection.
Salvia ‘Krystle Pink’
Another hardy salvia, ‘Krystle Pink’ has charming sugar-pink flowers, which appear from May to November. This shrubby variety will reach an ultimate height of 70cm.
Salvia ‘Silas Dyson’
The striking blooms of ‘Silas Dyson’ put on a show from May to November. Port-coloured buds open to reveal crimson flowers. Drought-tolerant, plus hardy if given full sun and good drainage.
A tall, shrubby perennial, ‘Jezebel’ produces masses of showy, bright red flowers, from May to November. Perfect for a dry spot and hardy if given full sun and good drainage.
A woody-based salvia, ‘Amistad’ has particularly large flowers and can grow to 1.2m in height. Deep purple flowers and even deeper purple calyces appear from May to November, and stand out against lush green foliage.
Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’
This ravishing clump-forming salvia is awash with violet-blue flowers from May to July. Cut ‘Caradonna’ back after flowering to encourage a second flush of flowers, and plant in a site with full sun and good drainage, to ensure hardiness.
Salvia x sylvestris ‘Rose Queen’
Short of space? ‘Rose Queen’ is a more neat and compact variety compared to other salvias, and will grow to around 50cm in height.
Salvia x sylvestris ‘Viola Klose’
‘Viola Klose’ is a stunning, fully hardy salvia with radiant violet flower spires, atop fresh green foliage. Grow it in full sun or partial shade and expect it to grow to around 60cm in height.
Many thanks to Dyson’s Nurseries, who provided information on the plants in this feature.
Salvias are easy to propagate by taking cuttings from their sideshoots, in spring and summer. When potting up the cuttings, use a free-draining compost and grow them on in a bright area out of direct sunlight. Keep the cuttings moist by regularly misting them.