fall-blooming salvias and where to find some

I’ve been trying to scale the garden down, which means there will be no shed-sized, fall-blooming salvias this year like…


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Salvia involucrata, Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden, the rosebud sage. Some of the salvias like a bit more moisture than I’m doling out lately, and this one would fall into that group.

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The bog sage, Salvia uliginosa, at Cornerstone Sonoma. As its name suggests, it doesn’t mind moist soil but can manage in surprisingly dry conditions too.

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Bog sage leaning into frame with potted Eucomis and Scotch moss, sedum, Japanese anenomes, Cornerstone Sonoma

Size or water constraints won’t stop me from having a look at salvia offerings at the fall plant sales. Out of an estimated 700 to 900 species, there’s one for every situation. Colors are always intense, stems always squared. Since hummingbirds are helpless before the tubular siren call of salvias, be sure to include a seat nearby to enjoy the air show.

Here’s a gallery of salvias from gardens past, fall bloomers and otherwise. My garden unless otherwise indicated.

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Salvia africana-lutea, 2/26/13 (removed because it was crowding Phylica pubescens, which has since died. And so it goes…)

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Salvia reptans ‘West Texas Form,’ slim and upright. September 2012

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Salvia sclarea ‘Piemont.’ The biennial clary sage is famous for reseeding (in every garden but mine. And so it goes…) July 2012

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Salvia canariensis var. candissima, June 2012. Outsized, shrub-like. Very drought tolerant.

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May 2011

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Salvia macrophylla, September 2010. Large, sprawling, always presentable, with leaves clothing stems down to the ground. Not the heaviest bloomer for me though.

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Salvia littae, November 2011.

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Salvia madrensis, November 2011

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Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish,’ September 2011. Constant and dependable bloomer. We took this year off from each other so I could make room for something touchy and undependable. And so it goes…

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Salvia ‘Waverly,’ July 2011. Utterly dependable. One of the best for Southern California.

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July 2010

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Salvia cacaliifolia, June 2011. The agave now resides in my neighbor’s garden.

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August 2010

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Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’ at the Huntington June 2011

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Salvia wagneriana, April 2011. If you have the space, this salvia is known for blooming during Southern California’s winter

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Salvia leucantha, Longwood Gardens, November 2010

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Salvia van houttei, Longwood Gardens, November 2010

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Salvia elegans ‘Golden Delicious’ Longwood Gardens, November 2010

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Salvia ‘Limelight,’ October 2010

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Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain,’ June 2010, blooms most of the summer

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Salvia clevelandii, June 2013, a California native, in a local hellstrip


In Southern California, a good place to find salvias is at Fullerton Arboretum’s salvia sale, September 21 and 22, 2013.

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7 Responses to fall-blooming salvias and where to find some

  1. Peter/Outlaw says:

    So many gorgeous salvias; so little space. Love them all especially those beautiful blues!

  2. Scott Weber says:

    They are all so beautiful…I wish I had room for them all! I really need to give Salvia leucantha a try again…even though it’s not reliably perennial for me…it’s so pretty!

  3. Les says:

    I grow a couple of these, but S. leucantha is my favorite. It makes the coming season more bearable. Salvia sclarea also has a special place in my memories. When I was visiting Kew I made the mistake of getting too close to a patch and got that rank body odor smell stuck on me. I wanted to pin a sign to my shirt that said it’s not me, it’s the sage.

  4. Oooo la la! So many wonderful salvias. That Salvia leucantha from Longwood is absolutely stunning. I usually grow Wendy’s Wish every year for the Hummingbirds. The seem to particularly love that one. Great post Denise

  5. kathy says:

    I have yet to succeed in overwintering Waverly and Wendys Wish..I dutifully go out every spring and start combing the nurseys for Wendy. She seems oblivious to anything–except 20 degree nights.Nice overview Denise..love those Salvias.

  6. Denise says:

    @Peter, there are so many, and I’ve tried to grow my fair share!
    @Scott, I tracked down the dwarf leucantha one year but didn’t notice much difference in size. They bulk up huge before they flower in fall.
    @Les, I want that on a t-shirt!
    @Deanne, Longwood had so many salvias that fall I visited. They were the backbone of their fall displays.
    @Kathy, I’ll probably grow Waverly again next year. There’s really not another salvia like it. For magenta, I think chiapensis is more presentable year-round than WW, but it’s a close call.

  7. Denise says:

    Yes, Robert, please send a photo to agrowingobsession@gmail.com. I’d love to have a look. Sounds like it’s a good winter-bloomer for you.

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