‘Black and Blue’ Salvia

Hummingbird Sage (Salvia guaranitica)

‘Black and Blue’ salvia is really more blue and purple than black, but you know how these things go in the garden world. Dark purple is often considered black and identifying colour is mostly down to a bit of wishful thinking. This salvia is also reported to attract hummingbirds, hence the common name, hummingbird sage, but it does not live up to the hype there either, at least not in my garden where nary a hummingbird has been seen and not for want of trying.

Hummingbird Sage (Salvia guaranitica) Hummingbird Sage (Salvia guaranitica)

No matter. The blue is stunning, shocking I’d say against bright chartreuse green leaves. And while it hasn’t magically conjured up a hummingbird, it does bring the pollinators out in droves. Look what happened while I was shooting these photographs!

Hummingbird Sage (Salvia guaranitica) Hummingbird Sage (Salvia guaranitica)

Like all salvias the smell is aromatic and unique. I’ve had a piece in my pocket all day that I’ve pulled out now and again to smell in an attempt to write this description. It’s sweet and reminiscent of the fruit sages. Sometimes I smell pineapple or apple and a hint of anise. The leaves are roughly textured and remind me a little of anise-hyssop, especially the chartreuse variety.

Hummingbird Sage (Salvia guaranitica)

The Details

  • Climate: Zones 7-11. Definitely not my zone, which means I have to decide whether I’m going to try and overwinter a cutting indoors or just let it go.
  • Conditions: Like all salvias it likes it warm and bright with well-draining soil that does not become waterlogged. However, I find that while this one can tolerate a dry spell now and again, it seems to prefer consistent moisture to maintain that bright, lush foliage.
  • Container Growing: I’ve been growing mine in a very large container and I’ve found that it can’t take too much sun or too much dryness in a pot (even a very big one). For that reason I’ve had to step up the watering regime (why I could not show you the whole plant since the lower leaves suffered when I neglected to provide enough water) and I keep it in a spot that gets morning sun and afternoon shade.
  • Blooms summer to frost.
Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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8 thoughts on “‘Black and Blue’ Salvia

  1. I grew this lovely sage several years ago. When October’s frost killed the top growth, I attempted to yank it out of my raised bed and put it into my compost bin. It did not budge. I fetched the spading fork and loosened the root ball and was amazed to see a cluster of rounded tubers reminiscent of a Dahlia! I replanted it right away in the ground, not in the raised bed. It returned the following year, but the third year it gave up. I can’t recall if we had good snow cover both of those winters or not. Perhaps if you keep the pot inside for the winter in a cool place it will come back for you next spring. If we were neighbors, I’d offer you my 55 degree attached garage. :>)

    I have not seen Black and Blue Salvia locally since then or I probably would have picked it up again. It’s an eye-catching combination of colors and the growth habit is appealing, too. I don’t think I saw hummingbirds at this plant. They do visit here regularly, though, seeking Cypress Vine, Cannas, Zinnias, Verbena bonariensis, Red Lobelia and red Dahlias.

    Your photos are excellent. Anytime I see a honeybee I am encouraged. They are declining in my neighborhood at an alarming rate.

  2. My mother who lives in Windsor just saw a hummingbird for the first time ever in her garden this week. It was feeding at the flowers from her hostas. In the twenty five years I had lived in Southern Ontario, I had never seen a hummingbird. I now live in LA county where hummers are rampant.

  3. I grew this for the first time this year, hoping that it would attract hummers. I was not disappointed. It is the first plant they visit, even before the red salvia. I purchased it from my garden club and hope it is available next year. It’s now on my MUST HAVE list. I’m also encouraged by the comment about over wintering it. I think I’ll try to save it in my garage and see what happens. I have nothing to lose and a plant to gain.

  4. I bought one a few years ago under the name Hummingbird Sage. The first two years it was in a medium pot, this year I planted it in the ground (I’m on the northern edge of Zone 6). The hummingbirds -love- it. Every time I sat on the porch, they’d fly past the red zinnias and orange cosmos, straight for the Sage.

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