There are quite a few perennials out there that perform well in the summer, but salvias are about the best.
There are so many great salvias available today for sensational, consistent color all summer — and fall — long.
Salvia varieties are prized for their extended bloom, vibrant colors and fragrant foliage and flowers in addition to their nectar production. They range widely in terms of height, flower color and growth habits. Many varieties are upright, but trailing varieties are available too.
White and purple are the most common colors of salvia blooms, but new varieties come in shades of orange, red and blue.
Among the various varieties, heights can vary a foot to several feet — upwards of 5 to 6 feet — tall.
Salvias can be used in the landscape in mass plantings, as borders, in containers and as accent or focal plantings. Some varieties even make good cut flowers.
Their nectar makes them fan favorites for pollinators such as butterflies, hummingbirds and bees.
While they can tolerate partial shade, most varieties bloom the most in full sun.
Plant in a well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Once established, most salvias are drought tolerant and require little care.
However, waterlogged soils and overwatering can lead to increased susceptibility to fungal diseases. Plant in the early spring after the last threat of frost. Established plants can be divided when new growth begins in early spring.
To keep flowers going all summer long and into the fall, remove faded blooms to encourage new flower production. Occasional water-soluble fertilizer feedings in the summer will encourage flowers and keep the foliage healthy and green.
Plant the tall upright salvias at the rear of flower beds; use shorter varieties as border plants. Make a dramatic impact in your landscape with a mass planting of one cultivar.
Plants can drop lower leaves when stressed or without water for extended periods. To revive, remove the upper third of the plants with a quick trimming, and plants will fill back out nicely. You can also trim to shape or decrease size any time throughout the growing season; this will encourage new branches and create a more compact habit with even more flowers.
Some great varieties include the Evolution series, which is a Louisiana Super Plant program selection. This series comes in both violet and white bloom colors. The Wish series is another great choice. These include Wendy’s Wish, Ember’s Wish and Love and Wishes. The Skyscraper series is a new series that includes Skyscraper Dark Purple, Skyscraper Pink and Skyscraper Orange.
A few more varieties grown and evaluated at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station are White Flame, Black and Bloom, Van Remsen, Blue Ensign, Rockin’ Blue Suede Shoes, Mystic Blue, Big Blue, Rockin’ Deep Purple, Unplugged So Blue, Rebel Child, Roman Red, Purple and Bloom, Amistad, Amante, San Carlos Festival and Limelight.
Not all varieties are carried at local nurseries, but many are. Get your hands on as many as you can and start your own collection.