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The Top 6 Coolest Blue Salvia for the Garden

Blue flowers are highly sought after for their rarity in nature but also for their ethereal beauty. Blue flowers signify peace, coolness and sadness, and people find blue flowers soothing to look at. Blue salvia plants fill this bluesy niche perfectly because there are many wonderful selections of blue salvias for sale, and salvia plants tend to bloom for a long period of time...longer than many other perennials. Most Salvia plants are heat / drought tolerant and attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds...a true blue garden winner. As an added bonus, the fragrant foliage of salvia is distasteful to rabbits and deer. With these blue salvias, you can catch the salvia blues in your garden for several months each year.

 

#6 Salvia azurea

Image of Salvia azurea 'Nekan'
Salvia azurea 'Nekan'


Salvia azurea is a great plains native plant with sky blue flowers. Wild forms of this Salvia azurea tend to be floppy, but Salvia 'Little Boy Blue' is sturdier with upright 4' tall stems, in late summer, displaying dozens of pure azure blue flowers. The cultivar 'Nekan', also features an improved upright habit and azure blue flowers. Pinching a few times early in the year helps increase the branching and reduce the tendency to flop as does locating the plant in drier soil. Brushing against its fragrant foliage releases a typical sage-like scent. Some people like to grow Salvia azurea combined with perennial prairie grasses which will can give the salvias some support.

 


#5 Salvia x sylvestris (aka Salvia nemorosa)

Image of Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna'
Salvia x sylvestris 'Caradonna'


For those of you who like dark blue, you must try one of the dark blue Salvia x sylvestris (aka Salvia nemorosa) cultivars on the market. This Salvia hails from Europe and Asia and has a more compact branching habit than many other blue salvias, and it produces tons of long flower stalks covered with intensely colorful flowers. In addition, the foliage is sage-ly fragrant. The award-winning cultivar 'Caradonna' features vivid blue-violet spikes of flowers on black stalks in mid-summer. Salvia nemorosa flower spikes are popular in cut-flower arrangements.


#4 Salvia chamaedryoides

Image of Salvia chamaedryoides
Salvia chamaedryoides


Salvia chamaedryoides has really clear blue flowers atop a clump of silvery leaves...the combination of blue and silver is quite popular. This blue salvia is native to Mexico (don't tell Trump!) and produces its blue flowers for a long period of time from early summer to early fall. Pruning once per year helps improve the habit and stimulate lush growth, and deadheading stimulates even longer blooming.

 


#3 Salvia farinacea

Image of Salvia farinacea 'Henry Duelberg'
Salvia farinacea 'Henry Duelberg'


Salvia farinacea is a Texas native salvia with several blue color forms. If royal blue is your color, then you must try the cultivar 'Henry Duelberg' whose intense blue flowers are simply dazzling. As a bonus, the leaves also have a nice fragrance...somewhat like culinary sage. This species keeps the salvia blues going in your garden for a long period...from June until frost. Pruning back tall stems after the main bloom cycle is finished helps keep the plant bushy.


#2 Salvia uliginosa

Image of Salvia uliginosa
Salvia uliginosa


Clear sky blue flowers atop long stalks define this RHS Award of Garden Merit winning blue salvia. Salvia uliginosa is one of the few salvias that like moist soils (it is known as the bog sage) but it also performs well in dry soils (and stays a more manageable height too). This blue salvia spreads via stolons into a nice mass filling your garden space or giving you plenty to share with friends. Growers of Salvia uliginosa are treated to its blue flower show for quite a while, from June to early fall. The stems and leaves of Salvia uliginosa are a little bit sticky…but then again, when we garden outdoors in the hot summer, so are we.

 


#1 Salvia guaranitica

Black and Blue Salvia Black and Blue
Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

The king of the blue salvias could well be Salvia guaranitica, the native Brazillian Anise sage. This is a tall sage and is suitable for the back of the border that will will spread slowly into a dense patch, giving you plenty to enjoy or to share with friends. From early summer until frost, Salvia guaranitica produces tall spikes of blue flowers that hummingbirds love. The most popular cultivar is Salvia Black and Blue which produces deep blue flowers nestled in a black calyx atop 3' black stalks. The cultivar 'Van Remsen' is not a spreader and produces somewhat lighter cobalt blue flowers on top of 7' tall stalks. Salvia guaranitica 'Argentina Skies' produces sky blue flowers on a 5' stalk. Salvia guaranitica is called the Anise sage because if you crush a leaf and sniff (without sucking the leaf up your nose) you might catch a whiff of black licorice.

 

In conclusion

These top 6 blue salvias blend well with many garden themes…cottage gardens, xeric gardens, rock gardens, butterfly gardens, hill-side gardens, etc. Combined with other drought tolerant summer plants...especially silver leaved plants like dasylirion or white flowered plants like Aloysia virgata, these blue Salvias will form a heat-loving yet cool-feeling summer garden. Catch the Salvia blues this summer!

 

References:

Missouri Botanic Garden - Salvia Black and Blue
Proven Winners
Fine Gardening - Salvia guaranitica
Floridata
Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center
Fine Gardening - Salvia nemorosa
Fine Gardening - Salvia nrmorosa Caradonna
Missouri Botanic Garden - Salvia nemorosa Caradonna