How to Grow Annual Blue Salvia — Salvia

Blue Salvia (Salvia Farinacea) Flowers In The Meadow. Blooming Purple Field Flower In Green Background. Close Up Of Sage Inflorescence, Soft Focus.

Annual blue salvia, Salvia farinacea, produces spikes of small purple-blue flowers from midsummer to fall. Annual blue salvia is sometimes called mealycup sage. The plant is an upright perennial often grown as an annual. Leaves are lance-shaped.

Annual blue salvia has the best effect when planted in drifts in beds and borders. More than one plant in a container will give a true sense of the plants’ vibrant color.

Blue salvia, Salvia farinace
Blue salvia, Salvia farinace

Get to know annual blue salvia

  • Plant type: Annual
  • Growing Zones and range: Grow as an annual in Zones 2-7; grow as a perennial in Zones 8-11
  • Hardiness: Annual blue salvia prefers warm weather and moderate to high humidity
  • Height and width: 12 to 36 inches (30-91cm) high; 10 to 12 inches (25-30cm) wide
  • Foliage: Lance-shaped leaves
  • Flowers: Bright blue spikes
  • Bloom time: Summer
  • Uses: Bedding, containers, mixed flower borders
  • Common name: Annual blue salvia, mealycup sage
  • Botanical name: Salvia farinacea
  • Family: Lamiaceae

Where to plant annual blue salvia

  • Grow annual blue salvia in full sun in Zones 2-6; grow in light shade in hot summer areas in Zones 7-11.
  • Plant blue salvia in average, well-drained soil.
Mealycup sage, Salvia farinacea
Mealycup sage, Salvia farinacea

When to plant annual blue salvia

  • Set annual blue salvia in the garden in spring or later after all danger of frost has passed.

Planting and spacing annual blue salvia

  • Space annual blue salvia plants 8 to 12 inches (20-30cm) apart.
  • Sow seed 1/8 inch deep in evenly prepared soil.

How to water and feed annual blue salvia

  • Annual blue salvia needs moderate moisture; keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Fertilize annual blue salvia occasionally, every 4 to 6 weeks, or work in a slow-release fertilizer in spring.

Annual blue salvia care

  • Mulch around annual blue salvia to conserve soil moisture.
  • Annual blue salvia is prone to rust, aphids, and leafhoppers.

Annual blue salvia propagation

  • Sow seeds in warm soil after all danger of frost has passed.
  • Start seeds indoors 6 weeks before setting plants in the garden.

Annual blue salvia varieties to grow

There are several cultivars of annual blue salvia, Salvia farinacea; here are a few:

  • ‘Blue Bedder’ grows to 12 inches high.
  • ‘Rhea’ is compact with intense blue flowers.
  • ‘Silver White’ bears pearl white flowers.
  • ‘Strata’ has bicolored flowers.
  • ‘Victoria Blue’ has rich blue flowers.
  • ‘White Porcelain’ has white flowers.

Salvia splendens — annual red salvia, scarlet sage

Annual red salvia — Salvia splendens — is available not only in the familiar scarlet, but also in white, pink, dusky purple, and lavender. The 1 ½-inch-long flowers bloom from summer to frost on wide spires held above heart-shaped, medium to dark green leaves. Annual red salvia is commonly massed in beds. It can also be used to accent a mixed border or in a container to brighten a patio. It makes a poor cut flower, but it attracts hummingbirds.

  • Size: 6 inches to 3 feet tall; half to three-fourths as wide.
  • Light: Full sun; partial shade for pastels.
  • Soil and moisture: Average, well-drained soil; plentiful moisture.
  • Planting and propagation: Sow uncovered, indoors, at 75°F, six to eight weeks before the last frost. Space 6 inches to 1 foot apart.
  • Special care: Remove entire flower spikes as they fade to stimulate more flowers.
  • Pest and diseases: Damping off, lead spot, rust, aphid, stalk borer, and leafhopper are occasionally troublesome.
  • Climate: Half-hardy summer annual in Zones 2-10; spring or fall annual in Zones 9-11.
  • Cultivars: Bright red; ‘red fire,’ 1 foot tall; ‘fuego,’ scarlet, early blooming, 8 inches tall; ‘st. john’s fire,’ 1 foot tall. ‘Red hot Sally,’: deep red, 10 inches to 1 foot tall, compact, and stocky. ‘Laser purple’: 10 inches to 1 foot tall, resists fading. ‘Phoenix mix’: 1 to 2 feet tall, includes salmon, pink, cream, lilac, and red. ‘Empires series’: 1 to ¼ feet tall, well-branched, dark salmon, light salmon, lilac, deep purple, red, white, or mixture.
  • Garden use: Plant in groups in borders for spiky shaped. Use reds carefully; try with green-flowered plants and foliage.

Salvia viridis (S. horminum) — painted sage

Painted sage is an unusual source of annual color for the garden. It bears spikes of large, pretty bracts that grow behind each tiny flower. The bracts may be pink, blue, or white, often veined with deeper color or green. The bracts remain showy long after the actual blossoms fade, often lasting all summer. Spikes are excellent in fresh or dried bouquets.

  • Size: 10 inches to 1 ½ feet tall; bushy.
  • Light: Full sun.
  • Soil and moisture: Average, well-drained soil; moderate moisture. Drought tolerant.
  • Planting and propagation: Garden-sown seedlings catch up with those sown indoors, so best to sow in the garden two weeks before the last frost; thin to 8 inches apart.
  • Special care: Reseeds, but never weedy.
  • Pest and diseases: Damping off, lead spot, rust, aphid, stalk borer, and leafhopper are occasionally troublesome.
  • Climate: hardy annual in Zones 2-11.
  • Cultivars: ‘Pink Sunday,’ pink, 1 ½ feet tall; ‘Oxford blue,’ violet-blue, 1 ½ feet tall; ‘Clarissa,’ 1 ½ feet tall, well-branched, large bracts in singles (blue, deep pink, and white) or mixed.
  • Garden use: attractive massed in informal and cottage gardens, herb gardens, and in containers.

Also of interest:

How to Grow Perennial Salvias

How to Grow Annual Red Salvia

How to Grow Perennial Blue Salvia

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