Green Neighbors Program

The Clark County Green Neighbors Program is coordinated by Clark County Public Health’s Solid Waste and Environmental Outreach to assist citizens with developing more sustainable lifestyles and building a strong environmental community in Clark County. Solid waste regional planning and programs are a cooperative effort of Battle Ground, Camas, Clark County, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt.

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  • Scientific Name: Salvia
  • Garden: Xeriscaping Garden
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous Perennial or Annual depending on variety
  • Evergreen/Deciduous: Deciduous
  • Sun/Shade Exposure: Full Sun
  • Moisture Requirements: Moist, well-drained

Plant Information

One of the upsides of globalization is that we now have access to a dizzying array of simply stunning salvias. The genus of Salvia is the largest in the Lamiaceae (or Mint) Family, and therefore has a wide array of flower color, foliage and growing habits. Salvias are often later season bloomers that can carry color in the garden until first frost. They can be used in a variety of settings such as containers, hanging baskets, drought tolerant areas and well tended garden beds.

Salvias can be annual or perennial, sub-shrub or herbaceous, and evergreen or deciduous. Leaves are opposite and carried on square hairy stems and are often aromatic when crushed. Flowers are tubular with a split lower petal. They are a pollinator magnet, drawing bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. They are also a low allergen plant, which makes them suitable for sensitive gardeners.

Origin: 900 species from all around the world, except cold regions and tropical forests. Around half of the species are endemic to the Americas.
Culture: Nearly all species are full sun lovers and do best with at least 5 hours of sun daily. They can tolerate a variety of soil conditions but most have trouble in heavy wet soils, so amend the soil with compost at planting time here in the great Northwest. Well-drained, light, alkaline soils that are moisture retentive are ideal. Many species are not particularly long lived and may need to be replaced every 5 or so years.

Pests and Diseases: With proper drainage and enough sun, Salvias are remarkably care free. Slugs, snails, and caterpillars may be attracted to the foliage. Where soils are dry and air is humid, powdery mildew may occur.

Maintenance: For both annual and perennial species, deadheading (removing spent flower heads as soon as they are done) will encourage new blooms and help keep the plant tidy. Prune in spring to remove damaged or unattractive stems. When pruning for health and shape, avoid pruning to bare wood as salvias tend to take great offense to this.
Propagation: Seed of all species can be sown in spring (particularly successful with annual types). Softwood cuttings are best taken in early summer or any time during the growing season. Division of rhizomatous species can be done at almost any time, although moving or dividing plants during the heat of summer is best avoided.

Data Source

Photo Credit

SalvialadyinRed, SalviaOfficinalis, SalviaRhea, SalviaVictoria (Portland Nursery), SALI Flower (©2022 Cheri Moland)