THEALE, UK: A plant that is loved by landscapers and novice gardeners alike for its colour and structure is Salvia, making it the perfect choice for the Horticultural Trades Association’s Plant of the Month for July.
Salvia is a member of the sage family and is available in both annuals and perennials. Salvias are a diverse group of plants and comes in various shades of colour – red, cream, purple and pink. Some varieties, such as culinary sage, are edible to humans as well and are used in foods such as stuffing and to add flavour to dishes.
Salvias are long flowering, with the potential to put on a great show from June through much of the summer and into autumn. If you remove the flower spikes as soon as they have faded (or give the entire plant a serious haircut as soon as the last of the flowers fade) then they will keep flowering and you can often enjoy a second flush of flowers in October. They are much loved, not only by gardeners but also by bees and butterflies.
It’s also a favourite of BBC Gardener’s World presenter Pippa Greenwood “I’m a great fan of the hardier salvias. Even before the buds open they are attractive plants with erect stems, often with aromatic foliage and forming a sort of clump of exclamation marks. Then when the flowers appear, usually in shades of violet, purple, pink or white, they can bring any sunny border to life instantly. Provide these plants with a well-drained but humus-rich soil and plenty of sun and they are easy to grow…seriously rewarding and….simply gorgeous!”
Salvias are a sun-loving plant, so grow in full sun. Soils need to be well-drained and moderately fertile. Dead head any flowers and trim in late spring any shoots that spoil symmetry. Different varieties include Salvia Hot Lips, Salvia Seascape, Salvia Firecracker, Salvia Amistad, Salvia Black and Blue
Nominated and agreed upon by British growers and retailers, the HTA’s Plant of the Month campaign highlights the plants that are widely available and looking especially good each month.
For more details about Plant of the Month, please visit www.the-hta.org.uk/plantofthemonth