1. Home
Send to a Friend via Email

Discuss in my forum

Mealy Cup Sage - Growing the Cool Blues of Salvia farinacea.

By

Saliva 'Victoria Blue'

The deep tones of Saliva 'Victoria Blue' are brought out even more by the complementary colors of yellow and orange.

Photo: © Marie Iannotti

Overview:

In my local garden center, mealy cup sage is known as blue salvia. Although Salvia farinacea comes in purples and whites, it’s the blue varieties that attract attention and repeat customers. This Texas native grows into a shrubby plant with tall, sturdy spikes of flowers that bloom throughout the summer. They make great cut and dried flowers too. And it’s deer resistant!

Latin Name:

Salvia farinacea

Common Name:

Mealy Cup Sage

Exposure:

Full sun to Partial Shade. In hotter climates, afternoon shade will extend the bloom period as well as the life span of the plant.

Hardiness Zone

USDA Hardiness Zones 7 - 11. Widely grown as an annual, in cooler climates. I’ve had it over-winter in my Zone 6 garden, after a mild winter.

Mature Size:

Varies with variety, but most grow from 2 - 3' tall and get about 8 - 12" wide.

Bloom Period

Early Summer through Fall

Description:

Salvia farinacea is a short lived perennial or annual. Five years is about the life span you can expect in gardens where it grows as a perennial. It shares many qualities with other members of the sage family, including the soft, fuzzy flower spikes and a slightly fragrant foliage that makes it less popular with animals.

Leaves: Elongated and slightly serrated leaves have a hint of gray to them, especially underneath. They are not fuzzy or thick, like many other sage plants.

Flowers: Multiple stems of small flowers clustered along study spikes.

Suggested Varieties:

  • 'Argent White' - A soft, off-white selection. 18"

  • 'Blue Bedder' - Similar to 'Victoria Blue', but taller. 3'

  • 'Strata' - Two-toned. Blue flowers are cupped with white sepals. 18"

  • 'Victoria Blue' - The classic deep purple-blue. 18"

Design Suggestions:

Because Salvia farinacea blooms so steadily, they make wonderful container plants. I like to tuck a few plants in areas of the garden where I know the perennials will be out of bloom for a brief period.

The bluish purple color really shines next to pale yellows, like Coreopsis 'Moonbeam' or the buttery Yellow Flower Carpet Rose. It’s also a great way to blend oranges into your garden, tempering harsh, red tones.

Growing Tips:

Soil: Salvia farinacea isn’t really particular about soil pH. It does, however, need a well draining soil. Mealy cup sage is fairly drought tolerant, but will bloom best if watered during dry spells.

Planting: Mealy cup sage can be started by seed, cuttings or divisions. In cooler climates, it is readily available as a bedding plant. Although Salvia farinacea can tolerate a light frost, it’s best to start seeds or plants outdoors, after all danger of frost has past. You can start seeds indoors, about 6 weeks before transplanting out. Spring is also the best time to divide plants.

No pinching or pruning is required to get the plants to branch. Sunshine will do the trick.

Maintenance:

Minimal deadheading is required to keep the plants blooming. Just be sure to keep them watered during dry periods and keep watch for pests.

In rich soil, you shouldn’t need to fertilize at all. If you’re growing your mealy cup sage in leaner soil, fertilizer mid-summer, to prolong the bloom.

Pests & Problems:

Pests are rare, although Salvia farinacea can attract aphids, mealybugs, spider mites and whiteflies.

Fungal diseases may occur, if the plants are grown too close together or in wet soil.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.