Salvia leucantha or Mexican bush sage.

Salvia leucantha or Mexican bush sage an Autumn flowering perennial which can add colour to your Melbourne garden in early May. Salvias are generally drought tolerant and can handle subtropical as well as temperate climates. This makes them a good plant for temperate climates like Melbourne with its with warm to hot summers, mild and sometimes balmy springs and autumns.

Salvia Leucantha or Mexican bush sage is an Autumn flowering perennial. This evergreen small shrub which can grow to around 1.3m high.
Leucantha or Mexican bush sage is an Autumn flowering perennial. This evergreen small shrub which can grow to around 1.3m high. It is suitable for dog friendly gardens in Melbourne.

Salvia leucantha belongs to the family Lamiaceae which is part of the sage genus. The significant sage genus, contains more than 920  species of woody and herbaceous plants of the mint family (Lamiaceae). These belong to the order Lamiales. Whilst they are attractive garden plants, many members of this genus are also important for culinary purposes such as flavouring, teas and food crops.

Mexican Chia (Salvia Hispanica)

Salvia hispanica, more commonly known as Mexican Chia, is one of the most important food crops from the mint family. The seeds of this annual herbaceous plant are known for being high in omega 3 fatty acid and fibre. Salvia hispanica is native to the desert regions of Mexico which makes it a very drought tolerant plant.

Chia seeds from Salvia Hispanica. Now an important food high in omega 3 fatty acid and fibre. Aztecs and Mayans used chia seeds as a source of energy.
Chia seeds from Salvia Hispanica. Now an important food high in omega 3 fatty acid and fibre. Aztecs and Mayans used chia seeds as a source of energy.
Chia seeds from Salvia Hispanica. Now an important food high in omega 3 fatty acid and fibre. Aztecs and Mayans used chia seeds as a source of energy.
Chia seeds from Salvia Hispanica. Now an important food high in omega 3 fatty acid and fibre. Aztecs and Mayans used chia seeds as a source of energy.

Many Salvia species are native to tropical America. Wagner’s Salvia also known as chupamiel (Salvia wagneri), is probably the most spectacular of these. This shrub is really more like a tree are as it can grow over 4 metres tall in ideal conditions. Not only is this a huge shrub, but the 300mm long flowers appear as scarlet spikes with magenta calyxes.

In the hills of southwest of North America Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea) displays its bright blue flowers after rainfall.

The bright blue flowers of S.farinacea or Blue Salvia, also known as mealycup sage.
The bright blue flowers of S.farinacea or Blue Salvia, also known as mealycup sage.

 Vanguard (Salvia splendens) is native to Brazil. The dark green oval leaves provide contrast for the spectacular dense spikes of bright red flowers and bracts. This compact, erect annual grows up to 300mm tall and flowers from summer to autumn.

Splendens is native to Brazil. The dark green oval leaves provide contrast for the spectacular dense spikes of bright red flowers and bracts. This compact, erect annual grows up to 300mm tall and flowers from summer to autumn.
Splendens is native to Brazil. The dark green oval leaves provide contrast for the spectacular dense spikes of bright red flowers and bracts. This compact, erect annual grows up to 300mm tall and flowers from summer to autumn.

Salvia and Sage as food flavourings.

Salvia officinalis is an aromatic perennial native to the Mediterranean region. The Mediterranean climate has some similarities to the Melbourne climate, which means Mediterranean plants often thrive in Melbourne. This Salvia is  cultivated for its leaves, which can be used either fresh or dried to add flavour to your cooking. These shrubs grow to around 60 cm tall.  Sage has slightly stimulating properties and the leaves have been used for making tea for centuries. It was thought that the tea helped to improve wisdom and memory. In fact the name sage comes from the old French sauge which comes from the Latin salvus meaning healthy.

S.officinalis is a bushy, spreading evergreen sub-shrub to 80cm tall, with very aromatic, finely veined, greyish-green leaves and short spikes of beautiful pale blue flowers in early summer.
S.officinalis is a bushy, spreading evergreen sub-shrub to 80cm tall, with very aromatic, finely veined, greyish-green leaves and short spikes of beautiful pale blue flowers in early summer.

Another popular flavoring herb is the Salvia Sclarea. A biennial herb, this variety can grow a little taller. The hairy heart shaped leaves have a powerful aroma giving cooking a distinctive flavour. Its white flowers and leaflike bracts are violet or pink. Both of these species are native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean, and so you can expect them to be reasonably drought tolerant in climates like Melbourne. In many parts of the world, this plant can grow wild.

Field of pink flowers Salvia sclarea
Field of pink flowers Salvia sclarea

 

Landscaping Ideas with Salvia

 

Pet Friendly Gardens

As with most culinary plants, salvia will not generally be a problem with your pets. The good news is that you are unlikely to need any snail pellets to protect your salvias. A good variety for snail resistance is salvia x superba.

Garden ideas for Saliva

These versatile plants are great for commercial landscapes, residential landscapes and coastal and beachside gardens. The plant can be used as either garden beds or borders as well as vegetable gardens. Most importantly, the salvia is also a must have for any ornamental garden Australia wide.

Salvia is great for garden borders and garden beds.
Salvia is great for garden borders and garden beds.

Sage and Salvia Varieties for your Melbourne garden

Salvia Amistad is a Herbaceous Perennial which flowers all the way from early summer until the frosts start. Beautiful dark purple flowers with a calyx so dark it is nearly black. Great for sunny garden beds or borders.
Amistad is a Herbaceous Perennial which flowers all the way from early summer until the frosts start. Beautiful dark purple flowers with a calyx so dark it is nearly black. Great for sunny garden beds or borders.
The Salvia Amistad with its very dark purple almost black calyx.
The Amistad with its very dark purple almost black calyx.
Salvia × jamensis is a bushy shrub to 100 x 50cm, evergreen in mild localities like Melbourne, with aromatic ovate, toothed mid-green leaves. Suitable for both Beds and Borders the wonderful flowers can be Bright Red, rose-pink, salmon pink, orange or creamy yellow. Flowers in summer and autumn.
Salvia × jamensis is a bushy shrub to 100 x 50cm, evergreen in mild localities like Melbourne, with aromatic ovate, toothed mid-green leaves. Suitable for both Beds and Borders the wonderful flowers can be Bright Red, rose-pink, salmon pink, orange or creamy yellow. Flowers in summer and autumn.
Salvia Uliginosa or Bog Sage is, as its name suggests, ideal for that damp of moist spot in your garden. It grows in clumps and is a perennial that loves moisture. With clear blues flowers from late summer to mid autumn, it will grow up to 2 metres tall with a spread of around 1 metre.
Salvia Microphylla Pink Blush. is an evergreen shrub with light green, aromatic, ovate leaves and deep red flowers in terminal racemes in late summer and autumn.
An alternative to lavender. Salvia lavandulifolia or Spanish salvia is a compact shrub or woody-based perennial, to 60cm tall and wide, with narrow, grey-green, downy leaves that can be used in cooking. Spiky racemes of violet-blue flowers in summer.
An alternative to lavender. Salvia lavandulifolia or Spanish salvia is a compact shrub or woody-based perennial, to 60cm tall and wide, with narrow, grey-green, downy leaves that can be used in cooking. Spiky racemes of violet-blue flowers in summer.
A variegated salvia will add depth to your small garden. ‘Tricolor’ is a spreading evergreen sub-shrub with oblong grey-green leaves variegated with cream and flushed with purple on the youngest growth; light blue flowers open in early summer.
A variegated salvia will add depth to your small garden. ‘Tricolor’ is a spreading evergreen sub-shrub with oblong grey-green leaves variegated with cream and flushed with purple on the youngest growth; light blue flowers open in early summer.
For striking gold varigated leaves, the herb ‘Icterina’ is a evergreen dwarf shrub with aromatic, oblong leaves 3-6cm long, greyish, variegated with gold yellow and pale green. Two-lipped pale purplish-blue flowers 2cm long, in terminal racemes provide great colour contrast.
For striking gold varigated leaves, the herb ‘Icterina’ is a evergreen dwarf shrub with aromatic, oblong leaves 3-6cm long, greyish, variegated with gold yellow and pale green. Two-lipped pale purplish-blue flowers 2cm long, in terminal racemes provide great colour contrast.
Purple Sage is an aromatic perennial herb with purple grey foliage It grows to a height of 60 cm and will spread to around 45 cm. Plant in well-drained soil in a sunny sheltered location.
Purple Sage is an aromatic perennial herb with purple grey foliage It grows to a height of 60 cm and will spread to around 45 cm. Plant in well-drained soil in a sunny sheltered location.

Garden Care for your Salvia

Salvias, like many Australian native plants, have evolved to grow in fairly poor soils. Apart from the alvia Uliginosa or Bog Sage, soil needs to be reasonably well drained.  Apply a soil conditioiner like a very dilute solution of Neutrog Seamungus occasionally.

 

More information on Landscaping and Garden Design

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Coastal Garden Design

 

 

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More information on the sage genus.

 

Cambridge Blue

 

Jerusalem Sage

 

S.Officinalis