Salvia (Scarlet)(Mealycup)

(sal' vee-ah)

Common name: Salvia, Sage

Family: Lamiaceae, Mint

Height x width: 8"-3' x 6-12"

Growth rate: moderate

Foliage: entire to variously cut or toothed, opposite, 1-3" long, leaves of some species pubescent

Flowers: whorls, often closely spaced, on spike-like racemes 6-10" long; usually terminal; many colors depending on species

Hardiness: annual

Soil: well-drained, moist

Light: sun to part shade in zones 8-9

Pests and problems: damping-off of seedlings, powdery and downy mildews, botrytis blight, aphids, spider mites, whiteflies (insects mainly pests in greenhouses)

Landscape habit, uses: massing, borders, containers, accent effect from bright colors, cut flowers

Other interest: genus from Latin salveo meaning to heal, refering to supposed medicinal properties of some species

Other culture: remove old flower stalks (deadhead) for continued bloom

Propagation: seed or overwinter from tip cuttings


Of the over 900 species, most being perennial at least to zones 7-9, the following are the most common annual ones seen in commerce. Many of the tender perennial species are becoming popular as annuals in the north.

barrelieri (bair-rel-ee-air' ii)(bicolor)--Bicolor Salvia, native to northern Africa, hardy to zone 8, white and light violet bicolor, 24-34" tall, biennial

coccinea (cock-sin' ee'ah)-- Scarlet or Texas Salvia, native to southern U.S. and South America, hardy in zone 9; bright red flowers to 1" long in whorls on terminal spike to 10" followed later in the season with shorter secondary spikes from the leaf axils; 15,000 seeds per ounce (photo: cv. Spanish Dancer)

elegans (ell-e-gans')--Pineapple Sage, native to Mexico, hardy to zones 7-8, bright red flowers 1½" long in 4-flowered whorls on 4" terminal spike in late summer; leaves when crushed have pineapple fragrance and are used in drinks, jams and jellies

farinacea (fair-eh-naa' cee-ah)--Mealycup Sage, native to Texas, hardy to zone 7, violet blue or white flowers ½" long in terminal spikes to 10" long, plants 2-3' tall (photo: cv. Victoria blue and white)

guaranitica (gar' an-it' eh-cah)-- Blue Anise Sage, native to Brazil and So. America, hardy to zone 7, leaves ovate and pointed and slightly hairy but don't smell of anise, blue flowers sometimes with almost black sepals, 3-6ft tall  (photo: cv. Black and Blue)

hormium: viridis

patens (pa-tens')--Gentian Sage, native to Mexico, hardy to zone 8, 1-2½' tall, blue flowers 1½-2" long in 2-flowered whorls to 15" long

splendens (splen-dens')--Scarlet Sage, native to South America, annual, 8"-30" tall, 1-1½" flowers in densely packed whorls on terminal spikes to 8" long, primarily red but other colors available (photo: cv. Red Hot Sally)

viridis (vir-i-diss')(hormium)--Painted Sage, native to southern Europe, to 1½' tall; flowers white, purple or blue ½" long on terminal spikes; colored bracts are parts of interest

Cultivars species flowers height other
'America' ('Globe of Fire') splendens red 26"  
'Argent' farinacea white 18"  
'Blaze of Fire' splendens red 16"   
'Blue Bedder' farinacea blue 18"  
'Bonfire' ('Clara Bedman') splendens scarlet 24"   
'Cambridge Blue' patens light blue 24-30"  
Carabiniere series splendens blue, red 10-12" stocky, later
'Cherry Blossom' coccinea cherry red 24"  
Claryssa hybrids viridis pink, white, purple 18" broad bracts
'Cleopatra Mix' splendens 6 color mix 12"   
'Coral Nymph' coccinea salmon, white bicolor 24" Fleuroselect award
Empire series (photo: cv. Empire Purple) splendens 6 colors 12-15" uniform
'Flare' splendens scarlet 18"  self-cleans, mounded
'Fuego' splendens scarlet 8"  
Hotline series splendens 5 colors 15" early
'Lady in Red' coccinea bright red 20-24" hummingbirds like
'Laser Purple' splendens deep purple 10-12" resists fading
'Maroccana' barrelieri blue, white bicolor 24-34" spikes branch
'Melba' splendens salmon, pink bicolor 8-9"  
'Oxford Blue' viridis blue 24-30" broad bracts
'Phoenix Mix' splendens 6 colors, pastels 12-24"  
'Pink Sundae' ('Pink Sunday') viridis rose-pink, ¼" 24-30"  
'Red Arrow' splendens red 12"  
'Red Hot Sally' splendens red 10"  
'Red Pillar' ('Hot Jazz') splendens red 14-18" dark green leaves
'Red Vista' splendens red 12" early
'Rhea' farinacea dark blue 14-16" early, low
Salsa series splendens 5 colors 12-14"  
'Sea Breeze' farinacea sea blue 18" silvery stems
'Silver White' farinacea white 18"  
Sizzler series splendens 5 colors 12" early, for less humid
'Snow Nymph' coccinea white 24"  dark green leaves
'Splendens' splendens scarlet 36"   
'Splendissima' splendens red 8-12" tolerates humidity
'St. John's Fire' splendens scarlet-red 12"   
'Strata' farinacea blue 18-24" silvery stems
'Top Burgundy' splendens dark red 12"  early
Victoria hybrids farinacea blue or white 18"   
'White Porcelain' farinacea white 18"  

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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