Plant of the Week: ‘Purple Rain’ Salvia (Lilac Sage)

June 7, 2011 — 1 Comment

'Purple Rain' Salvia paired w/ ice plants and coreopsis in a dry sunny bed adjacent to the driveway

'Purple Rain' paired w/ Bearded Irises and Autumn Joy Sedum

Close up of Flower Stem

‘Purple Rain’ Salvia verticillata (Lilac Sage, Whorled Clary )

Type: Perennial (Zones 4-9).

Light Requirements: Full Sun

Moisture/Soil: Average moisture.

Blooms: Early summer (reblooms in fall if cutback after first bloom). Tall 18″-24″  floppy spikes with beautiful of purple flowers that tend to cluster in balls (the more sun the taller the spikes tend to be)

Leaves: Large soft fuzzy green oval shaped leaves that form in a mound.

Size: Height: 18″-24″ tall and wide. It is a soft untidy mound.

Divided 'Purple Rain' waiting in compost to be replanted (they look sad but they should perk up pretty soon)

Additional Info: Not only is this my favorite salvia and is one of my Top 10 perennial for my garden (I also grow ‘May Night’ which has darker purple flowers and is more upright). I love the untamed cottage garden feel that they have. I also like the soft leaves.   Mine tend to like to be divided every 3 years or so. If not the middle will tend to open up and not look as good.

Pros: They are low maintenance and the butterflies, bees and birds love them. Will typically rebloom if flower heads are cut off after initial bloom. These can also be divided quite easily after a couple of years (I just divided 1 very large plant into about 10 plants). Deer and rabbits typically don’t like Salvia.  They also make a good cut flower.

Cons: If you don’t like “natural” or “wild” look then this plant is not for you.

Origin: Not native to the US. Europe/Asia.

Varieties: There are a number of varieties of salvia to choose from. Here are a few of my favorites:

‘May Night’ has nice dark purple/blue flowers.

‘Caradonna’ has a medium purple flower.

‘Snow Hill’ is a white salvia.

‘Marcus’ is a dwarf version (more like a ground cover).

Plant Combinations: These look good paired with small grasses and taller more erect plants. Also looks great with orange and yellow lilies like Stella de Oro. I also just planted some with a Yucca.

*The Plant of the Week is based on plants that do well in my 7a/6b garden in SE Pennsylvania.

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