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This species has deeply divided, fan-shaped leaves of blue-green to 3 feet across. It bears ivory blossoms on 6-foot-long panicles in summer. It may be shoot-hardy to Zone 6 with a deep layer of mulch.
Long, narrow leaves grow in rosettes near the ground. Flower stems shoot upward to 2 feet with 3-inch-wide, petunia-like, purple, blue, or scarlet flowers marked with broad veins of gold. Cultivars include 'Splash,' 'Bolero,' and the more compact-growing 'Casino'.
'Indigo Spires' sage is a vigorous hybrid prized for its 12- to 15-inch-long, twisting spikes of dark violet flowers. It is a non-stop bloomer from early summer through fall. Blooming can be further encouraged by pinching stem tips early in the growing season and deadheading the spikes once they fade. 'Indigo Spires' quickly grows to 4 feet high, and can be grown as an annual where not hardy.
Throughout the summer, 'Mystic Spires Blue' produces long stalks of dark blue flowers, which continue to reward in abundance when deadheaded. Refresh tired plants in midsummer by cutting them back by half. This cultivar makes an excellent bedding or container plant.
This hybrid of S. nemorosa and S. sylvestris is a drought-tolerant perennial that lends vivid purple-blue hues to the garden from summer to early fall on 1.5- to 3-foot-tall spikes. Deadheading prolongs bloom. The spikes rise from a clump of silvery green leaves that grows to about 2 feet tall and wide.
This drought-tolerant perennial bears abundant pure blue flower spikes in early summer and until fall if spent flowers are removed promptly. It forms an erect clump 20 inches tall by 18 inches wide, with wrinkled, softly hairy leaves.
This drought-tolerant perennial bears deep violet-blue flower spikes in early summer and then sporadically if spent flowers are removed promptly. It forms an erect clump 2.5 feet tall by 1.5 feet wide, with wrinkled, soft hairy leaves.
This biennial or short-lived perennial is grown for its massive, downy-silver rosettes of foliage. In its second year, it spawns plumes of white or pinkish flowers with gray calyces in mid- to late summer. The plant has a spiky form, 3 feet tall by 2 feet wide. Locate it where the rosettes can be easily seen.
This short-lived, tender perennial shrub native to the Canary Islands off the African coast sends up 6-foot white-furred stems cloaked with long, felted, arrow-shaped leaves and topped, summer to frost, with plumes of purplish violet flowers clasped by red-tipped calyxes. It grows up to 4 feet wide.
This choice species boasts narrow, downy sage-green leaves and true sky-blue blossoms from summer to fall. It has woody stems and forms a beautiful specimen 12 inches tall by 18 inches wide.
This upright tender perennial provides rich color for annual bedding schemes where it is not hardy. Its deep red flowers are borne on 2- to 2.5- foot, open spikes from summer to autumn. Plants grow to about a foot wide and bear hairy, oval to heart-shaped leaves. Salvias are some of the showiest plants for containers, annual borders, and mixed borders. Butterflies and hummingbirds love them.
This tender perennial from Peru is highly unusual for its dramatic, purple-black flowers and pistachio-green calyces. The flowers appear from late summer to early fall. The drama is heighted by its contrasting silvery leaves and stems, which are densely cloaked in woolly, white hairs. Plants grow to about 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide. This specimen looks great tumbling over the edge of a container.
This perennial forms a shrubby upright clump 2 feet tall by 1 foot wide, with white mealy stems and glossy green leaves. It bears deep, lavender-blue flowers on tall spikes from early summer to frost. Salvias are some of the showiest plants for containers, annual borders, and mixed borders. Butterflies and hummingbirds love them.
This compact perennial forms a bush less than 1.5eet tall by 1 foot wide, with indigo stems and glossy green leaves. It bears deep, navy blue flowers on medium spikes from early summer to frost.
This native of Texas and Mexico has a woody base and can form a dwarf, evergreen shrub, 1 foot tall by 1 foot wide. It has small, leathery leaves and bears bright flowers in shades of pink, purple, or yellow from early summer to frost.
This unusual tender perennial displays an electric color combination when its vibrant purple-blue flowers open from bright chartreuse calyces. Fortunately, glossy, bright green leaves hold their own until the show gets started in August (and continues until frost). It forms a tall bush, 6 feet tall by 6 feet wide, which is great for the back of the border. Salvias are some of the showiest plants for containers, annual borders, and mixed borders. Butterflies and hummingbirds love them.
This native of the American Southwest and Mexico forms an evergreen shrub or shrubby perennial with dark, glossy leaves that are small (but slightly larger than most microphyllas) and softly toothed. It blooms off and on all summer, and again, more vigorously, in late summer and autumn, in blossoms of cherry-red. Its attractive foliage cloaks the plant to the ground, so it is well suited to the front of the border. It can grow to 4 feet tall and twice as wide.
This drought-tolerant perennial produces flower spikes in shades of violet, purple, or white to pink, with purple bracts. It blooms from early summer to autumn; reblooming is most reliable if spent flowers are promptly deadheaded. It has wrinkled leaves and forms an erect clump 3 feet tall by 2 feet wide. This species is most noted for its many S. sylvestris hybrids.
This drought-tolerant perennial is noted for its vivid indigo flowers along deep purple-black stems, which gives it a bicolor appearance. It blooms in early summer and then sporadically if spent flowers are deadheaded. It forms an upright clump, with the flower spikes rising to 2 feet in height; its wrinkled, softly hairy leaves form a mound 1 foot high. Plants spread 1 or 2 feet wide. These are some of the showiest plants for containers and mixed borders. Butterflies love them.
Cooks and gardeners alike are indebted to this classic, evergreen perennial for the unique, pungent flavor and aroma that its gray-green leaves produce. It forms a 2.5-foot-tall by 3-foot-wide bush with woody stems that may be trimmed back to newly emerging growth or strong stems in spring. In early to mid-summer, it sends up lavender-purple flower spikes; it has both ornamental and culinary qualities in an herb garden. It tolerates alkaline soils, but not wet winter conditions.
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by Richard Hartlage
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Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
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Trick your bulbs into blooming early
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Alliums All Season Long
Deer resistant and dynamic, these bulbs provide color from the first showers of spring to the last leaves of fall
by Stephanie Cohen
Potting Soil Recipes
Cook up your own container mix that is suited to your plants
by Daryl Beyers
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