Author Betsy Clebsch tested many salvias in her California garden when seeking tough plants that could survive without regular attention. Salvias were a good choice as they grow naturally from sea level to 11,000 feet and offer varied sizes, shapes and bloom colors. Most are water-thrifty, a great characteristic for Southwestern gardens. She describes over 100 salvias in A Book of Salvias: Sages for Every Garden (Timber Press, 1997), providing full plant details and cultural tips, as well as historical info on uses and where in the world species were discovered. This book will introduce you to some of the more unusual salvias to add to your collection.
Clever Gardening Technique
Use Botanical Names
Commonly called sage, salvias are sometimes confused with other plants containing sage in their common name, such as sagebrush (Artemisia) or Texas sage (Leucophyllum). Also, many salvia species resemble each other or are cultivars with similar characteristics, so it's a good idea to take the Latin genus and species with you to make sure you buy the plant you want.