Salvia superba

Quick facts and care essentials

• Zones 2-10, 14-24, 31-41
• Full sun
• Regular watering

One of the most reliable of the hundreds of salvias grown for the garden, Salvia superba lends vivid purple-blue shades to the garden throughout summer and into fall. The 1/2-inch flowers are carried on 1 1/2- to 3-foot-tall spikes that rise from clumps of gray-green, 1- to 3-inch, elongated oval leaves with the distinctive sage fragrance common to many salvias.

Among the many available cultivars, two outstanding choices are 'May Night', a compact plant (to 1 1/2 feet high and wide) with deep purple-blue flowers, and 'Blue Hill', also with deep purple-blue flowers but reaching nearly 2 1/2 feet tall and wide.

This salvia grows well in ordinary soil but appreciates soil amended with organic matter. It tolerates some dryness but prefers regular water. To prolong bloom, cut spent flower spikes to the ground. Divide every 4 to 5 years, when clumps become too large or die out in the center.