LANT OF THE SEASON: SKY BLUE SAGE (SALVIA AZUREA)
Marshall Grain partners with the North Central Texas Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) to help promote the use of native plants in our local landscapes. The Native Plant Society of Texas created the Operation NICE! program, which highlights natives that are right for the local environment. Each month the local chapter of NPSOT selects its NICE! (Natives Instead of Common Exotics) “Plant of the Month” (or “Plant of the Season”). At the same time, Marshall Grain and other nurseries feature the chosen plant as part of our general selection of Texas natives.
Our participation in Operation NICE! is just one of many ways that Marshall Grain encourages gardening with natives. Watch our events calendar for classes and events related to native landscaping and read othergardening tips on native plants.
Sky Blue Sage Is Hardy in Well-Drained Soils But Falters in Heavy Clay
By Dr. Becca Dickstein
Description: Fall blooming perennial. Azure Sage (Salvia azurea), also called Sky Blue Sage, Blue Sage, and Pitcher Sage, is a prairie plant from the mint family. It is native to the grasslands of the Great Plains. In landscapes, it is equally at home in a cottage garden, a rock garden, meadow garden, or grown as a focal specimen plant. It usually grows 1 to 4.5 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide with smooth-edged to serrated, narrow pointed green leaves whorled around the stems. Azure Sage is very cold tolerant and will overwinter as a rosette.
Flowers and Seeds: As its name implies, Azure Sage has sky blue to light blue (and, rarely, white) flowers appearing in late summer and early fall. The flowers are two-lipped bell-shaped calyxes 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. After pollination, seeds form, which can be collected in mid- to late fall. Azure Sage is easy to propagate from seed, which may be sown in the fall as well as the spring.
Planting sites: Azure Sage does well in full sun to partial shade. It tolerates a range of soil pH and soil types, including poor soil, but it does not do well in clay.
Watering Instructions: Because of its native prairie habitat, Azure Sage’s roots are large, tough and deep so that it can compete with prairie grasses. In the wild, its roots are normally shaded so Azure Sage may need irrigation during a dry spell to establish it in a well-weeded flower bed. Among tall grasses, Sky Blue Sage requires no supplemental water as a young plant. Once established, it may need watering only in an extended drought. It must have adequate drainage.
Comments: Azure Sage is an excellent choice for low maintenance landscaping in North Texas. It usually blooms the first year that it is planted. In the garden, it may be desirable to cut plants back to half their size in mid-summer, so that they become bushier with more blooms. The nectar from Azure Sage’s flowers attracts butterflies and bees; indeed, it is recognized for its value to native bees.
Reprinted with permission.
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