Shrubby salvias are among the best plants for a profusion of flowers over a long season and look fantastic in high summer when many plants can look a little tired. There is a huge selection to choose from with more exciting varieties being released every year.
One of the most popular is Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’ which produces an abundance of usually two toned red and white flowers from early summer until the frosts, it grows to around a metre or slightly more in a favoured site. A favourite of mine is
S. jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’ (Night Moth) which has stunning dark velvet-like maroon-purple flowers on a compact shrub around 75cm tall, making it an excellent choice for the front of a border.
Another good compact variety is S. ‘Dysons Joy’; growing to around 60cm it has pretty bi-colour pale and dark pink flowers which, like the other varieties, are borne from early summer through to late autumn. There are many other fabulous varieties in an ever increasing range of colours, all with aromatic foliage and flowers which are much loved by bees.
These salvias all prefer full sun and good drainage and given this are fairly hardy; any pruning is best done in mid-spring, cutting plants back to new growth or trimming to size. In cold and wet winters plants can be frosted down to the ground but may still reshoot from below soil level so it’s worth waiting a few extra weeks before replacing.
Salvia ‘Dysons Joy’ Salvia jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’ (Night Moth)
Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’