Blue salvia's spikes of flowers create excitement
in the garden.
Big Blue stunned us at the plant trials. This year, when
we're able to get our hands on it, we can say it is
indeed big, blue, and wonderful providing all of the
spikes you could want to create excitement in the
garden. Botanically speaking, Big Blue is a salvia
farinacea x S. longispicata cross. If you are a salvia
guru then you recognize this as similar to the Indigo
Spires discovered at the Huntington Botanical Garden in
is different, however, it is seed produced; meaning it's
a great value for the garden shopper. It is different,
too, in that it is vigorous but controlled, unlike the
Indigo Spires. It will reach 24- to 36-inches tall and
18- to 20-inches wide and it will bring in pollinators.
At the University of Georgia trial where a dozen salvias
were grown, this was the only seed variety; the others
were reproduced using vegetative propagation. Big Blue
won hands down. Pan American Seed has seemingly done the
impossible with Big Blue and you’ll love it.
the country, this dazzling blue salvia is being promoted
as an annual, and a fine one it will be. In zones 8 and
9, however, we are already hearing of a spring return in
fertile well-drained soil. So, my take is, expect an
annual and be thrilled with a return.
landscape, if you are looking for a way to create more
interest in your flower border this year, then, by all
means, plan on adding some spiky flower texture from Big
Blue. In the garden world, round flowers like zinnias,
marigolds, and even petunias often dominate. You can
almost draw an imaginary horizontal plane or line across
the top of your bed. But it's flowers like Big Blue that
rise up above that imaginary line with their glorious
spikes of color and create a real show-stopping moment.
site in full sun for best flower performance.
Fortunately, these genera of salvia are tolerant of wide
varieties in soil pH. From this standpoint, anyone can
grow it. However, like all salvias, they prefer good
drainage, especially if you want a return from winter.
For this reason, I like to plant on raised beds loosened
with organic matter. Space the Big Blue plants 16-
to18-inches apart. Depending on your space I would use 3
to 5 in an informal cluster or sweep. They do however
work quite well in straight line endeavors. In the
South, they will hit 36-inches tall by the end of
have touted how drought tolerant they are, do pay
attention during prolonged dry spells, watering deeply
but infrequently. Start feeding with light applications
of slow-released fertilizer about every 6- to 8-weeks
with the emergence of spring growth. Keep the flowers
deadheaded for a tidy appearance and to increase flower
salvias look like the quintessential cottage garden
flowers. Combine them with white picket fences, and your
favorite variety of the old-fashioned Gloriosa daisy. I
have seen stunning designs with plants like Wasabi lime
green coleus, Compact Electric Orange SunPatiens, Tophat
White begonias, and Alocasia elephant ears.
your choice of companion plants, it is sure to be Big
Blue salvia that will produce that proverbial Kodak
moment. There are a lot of hot days left in the growing
season why not get them planted this weekend?