Everything about Salvias: How to Plant, Grow and Care for Salvias

The spiky and bright blooms of salvia will be the first to capture your attention. It is a usual plant of choice for any gardener who is looking for a colorful display in the plant box. Nonetheless, there are also some salvias that function primarily as a culinary herb, which we all know as sage. It has a distinct flavor that is sure to enhance any dish. With more than 900 species that are available, it may be overwhelming to choose which is the right one to grow.

Thinking of growing salvia? The rest of this article has got you covered. We will tackle some of the most important things that you have to know about this plant, including the varieties that are available, their health benefits, uses, and how you can achieve the highest level of success in growing this plant in the garden.

Background and History

Salvia is from the Lamiaceae or mint family, of which it is the largest genus. There are more than 1,000 species of salvia that are available throughout the world, ranging from annuals to perennials and shrubs to herbaceous plants. It is a native to three regions – Eastern Asia, Central Asia and Mediterranean, and Central and South America.

Blue Salvia

The Spiky and Bright Blooms of Salvias are the First to Capture Your Attention

The plant’s name is from the Latin word salvere, which means to feel well or healthy in English. This is in reference to its healing properties. Since the ancient times, it is popular in the field of alternative medicine as it contains nutrients that will be effective in addressing a variety of health problems. While there are species that are useful for healing, there are also some that are purely ornamental.

Physical Characteristics of Salvia

The physical characteristics of salvia will vary depending on the specific variety of the plant that you will choose to grow. In most cases, the height will be anywhere from 18 inches to five feet. For the flowering varieties, the color of the blooms can be blue, white, pink, red, or violet, among others.

More than having a beautiful foliage, which is exactly why it is common for landscaping. Salvia can also exhibit a unique fragrance. Some varieties may smell like pineapple while there are also some that can be reminiscent of chia seeds.

Varieties of Salvia

Why are you planting salvia? Do you want one that can be an excellent ornamental plant in the landscape? Or do you want salvia as an herb that you can use when cooking? Regardless of your reasons, you need to be familiar with the different varieties that are available:

This type requires full sun to partial shade. It is a native to Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, where it commonly grows in the wild. A winter flowering plant, its height reaches up to nine feet and its width up to four feet.

Salvia Wagneriana

This shrubby plant grows small flowers that are peach and creamy yellow in color. The average height is 30 inches while the common width is three feet. It comes with shiny and elliptical leaves.

Salvia Sierra San Antonio

This sensational hybrid is popular for its red-purple flowers, which look more beautiful with the burgundy stems. The deep color of the flower will make it create a beautiful contrast in a green foliage.

Salvia Love and Wishes

With an average height of two meters, this cool-weather salvia is a common choice for many gardeners because of its large purple flower. Grow this plant in full sun or partial shade. Provide protection from humid or hot climate.

Originally from New Zealand, this cultivar of salvia has a purple flower, which normally blooms from May to November. The lime green foliage is also as striking as the color of the flower itself. On average, its height is 65 centimeters.

Salvia Javier

This is also known as salvia guaranitica, With an average height of two to five feet, this salvia is known for being able to attract hummingbirds to the garden. It also has a scent that will remind you of anise.

Salvia Black and Blue

If you are looking for salvia that will grow well in containers, this compact variety will be a great choice. It has an average height of 60 centimeters and spread of 30 centimeters, which makes it smaller than most salvias.

Salvia Flower Child

The spiky violet flowers of this variety make it excellent for an ornamental border plant. It is a hardy plant that can tolerate partial shade, although full sun is best for its healthy growth.

Salvia Serenade

The scarlet flower of this type of salvia is one of the reasons for its popularity, especially as an ornamental plant. It has spiky flowers. The height, however, is 18 to 30 inches on average.

Salvia Red

If you are planting salvia to use as a culinary herb, this is the variety that you should choose. It is an aromatic herb with a long list of applications, mostly for cooking. It can grow up to two feet tall and will have lavender flowers.

Common Sage

This variety is sure to be a colorful and beautiful addition to your garden. It produces small bright red flowers, which will bloom from May to November. It also has green and aromatic leaves.

Health Benefits

Most of you will notice the beautiful blooms of salvia or know it as a culinary herb. A few, however, are aware that it can deliver benefits for your health, specifically those that belong to the family of culinary salvia.

  • Enhances the Memory: One of the most common consequences of aging is memory decline. With this, salvia or sage can be helpful, especially in minimizing the likelihood of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Improves Mood: In the ancient times, the consumption of tea made from salvia is often done to lift the spirits, which is exactly the reason why it can enhance the mood. It can make you calm and alert. To add, it can also minimize mental stress.
  • Prevents Inflammation: If you have asthma, arthritis, or any condition due to inflammation, salvia can also extend a helping hand. It has luteolin and rosmarinic acid, which are anti-inflammatory compounds.
  • Reduces Muscle Tension: Salvia is also an anti-spasmodic, which allows the muscles to relax. Steam inhalation is one of the best ways to enjoy this benefit. It can also be effective in the removal of mucus congestion.
  • Improves Digestion: As a carminative, salvia can also help in the prevention of indigestion. It may have a slightly bitter taste, but this is actually the one that makes it effective in treating digestive issues and the improvement of the bile flow.
  • Boosts the Immune System: To strengthen the immune system and increase your defense from common diseases, salvia can also help. One of the reasons for this is probably because of the anti-microbial properties.
  • Improves Bone Strength: For people who are aging, it is common to suffer from problems related to having weak bones, such as arthritis and joint pain. With Vitamin K, salvia can help in improving bone density.

Uses and Applications

Below are some of the different ways to use salvia, which can convince you to have it as an addition to your home garden:

  • Herbal Oil: This is especially true in the case of sage. For thousands of years, it is one of the staple herbs in alternative medicine, especially for providing relief from digestive problems and mental stimulation.
  • Attract Hummingbirds: Why would you need to have hummingbirds in the first place? One of its benefits is that it can help in pollination, making it a beneficial bird in the garden. There are some varieties of salvia with fragrant flowers that can attract birds.
  • Cooking: Salvia also has endless culinary applications depending on how creative you get. It has edible and colorful flowers that will make a nice addition to stir-fry dishes. Yellow, blue, scarlet, and pink blooms will make food more appetizing.
  • Ornamental Plants: This is perhaps one of the best reasons to plant salvia in the garden. It will add a touch of bright color in a deep green foliage. The blooms have different colors, all of which are equally beautiful.

How to Plant Salvias

The process of planting salvia may differ depending on the specific variety that you intend to grow. More often than not, however, the discussions in this section will be applicable.

The best way to propagate salvia is from seed. Buy seeds only from a reputable supplier, providing you with the assurance that it will be disease-free. If you are an impatient gardener, as an alternative, you can consider buying a young salvia plant.

While you can plant salvia in a garden bed, you can also start with a container, which is perfect if you have small space available at home. The container does not need to be too big. It can be made of different materials. The important thing is to have drainage holes at the bottom which will allow water to flow freely, and hence, will prevent the occurrence of root rot.

Now that the container is ready, prepare your soil. Clay loam, which is well-draining, will be a good choice for a soil. It should also be nitrogen-rich. Ideally, the pH level should be anywhere from 6.0 to 6.5. It will also help if you can add organic matter, which will increase the nutrients in the soil.

Salvia Plant

Clay Loam is a Good Choice for a Soil

It is now time to sow the seeds on the soil. You need to poke holes with a depth of at least ¼ inch. If you are planting in a large space, see to it that there will be at least 24 inches of space between each plant. Once you are done, all that you have to do is wait. It will take around 10 to 21 days for the seeds to germinate.

Common Pests and Diseases

Different varieties of salvia may exhibit different problems, depending on the external environment. For the diseases, some that often confront home gardeners include powdery mildew, rust, and Alternaria leaf spot. Meanwhile, when it comes to pests, the common causes of infestation include thrips and aphids. Other problems can be due to lack of nutrients in the soil, poor water management, and mineral deficiencies.

How to Take Care of Salvias

Here are some of the things that you can do to ensure the healthy growth of the salvia:

  • Watering is important for its health, but you should avoid overdoing it. Mist it only during the initial stage of development. When it matures, you need to water it more, especially when the soil already feels too dry when you poke it. Keep in mind that most of the varieties are drought-tolerant, which is why there is not much need to water.
  • Choosing the position of the salvia will also be a critical concern. It would be best if it receives full sun. If the area is shady, the plant will look leggy. If you grow sage indoors, it will be best to have an artificial light to supplement the full sun requirements of the plant.
  • Mulching will also be necessary, especially if you live in a place that is humid. This will prevent the possibility of mildew. You can do this by adding pebbles or choosing a location that is not too hot.
  • Remove any part of the plant that seems unhealthy, which will also prevent the infection from spreading. Trim the plant every now and then, which will help to ensure that the plant receives the nutrients that it needs.
  • To maintain the plant in its optimal condition, be sure to replace it at least once within three to five years. At such point, it will already look woody. You can cut a healthy part of the salvia and transplant it in another pot.

Harvesting Salvias

Harvest salvia only when you need it. It is best to do in the fall or when the plant matures enough. Otherwise, this will only inhibit the growth of the plant. If you are using scissors to cut, make sure that it is clean so that infection will not spread to the plant. If you are harvesting to extract oil from the plant, do this early in the morning. Also, avoid harvesting more than half of the plant, which will help to ensure its continuous growth.


With its beautiful color and fragrant smell, salvia is indeed one of the best plants that you can have in the garden. When the flower is in full bloom, they will create a striking landscape. To add, you can also use salvia as a culinary herb, depending on the variety that you will grow. Fortunately, there is no need to have extensive experience in gardening. Even as a novice, you will easily succeed in panting salvia, as long as you know how to do it right.

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