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Terrific Tender Salvias

This test shows which ones are worth growing, even if it’s for just one year

Fine Gardening - Issue 188

Patience is a virtue, as I’ve been reminded too many times. Whether that’s true or not, I waited over 20 years to evaluate tender salvias, which are hardy in warm regions but not reliable in my Zone 5 winters. My craving for all types of salvias is never-ending—I’ve grown the hardy perennials and the colorful annuals—but I covet the beguiling tender salvias most of all. Over the past three years, a dazzling salvia-filled bed delighted us at the Chicago Botanic Garden from the warm days of early summer to the first frosts of autumn. Perhaps the long wait made it all the sweeter, because it was truly a colorful, eye-opening, and lively trial. Months of rainbow-hued flowers, habits great and small, and leaves in diverse colors and shapes—each with its own distinctive scent—are hallmarks of the tender salvias. Our goal was simple: to discover the best tender salvias that are…

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