Unlike most Salvias that are grown for their flowers, Salvia argentea, known as the Silver Sage is prized for its spectacular, large, furry silver-grey leaves. In the first year, the plant grows a large rosette of soft, felt-like, broad-oval, leaves that grow 20cm (8in) long by 15cm (6in) wide. The plants form an attractive foliage mound 30cm (12in) tall and up to 50cm (20in) wide. The leaves emerge crinkled, but flatten as they grow, with the margins retaining their scalloped edges
Salvia argentea is often grown as an annual although is often classified as a biennial, but with good drainage it usually lasts several years and it is therefore best treated as a short lived perennial, which dies down below ground in winter, re-emerging in spring.
In the second year, the leaves emerge silver-white in spring but gradually mature to silver-grey to greenish-grey as the summer progresses. Dramatic silver candelabra-shaped flower stems rise well above the foliage in early summer. The stems grow to around 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) tall and, if left to flower, are topped with tubular, hooded, white flowers that are tinged with pink.
Seldom sold as a potted plant, Salvia argentea is easy to grow from seed and if small side shoots appear in the second spring, they can be removed and potted on to produce another generation of plants. Plants can also be allowed to flower and set seeds, since self-sown seedlings usually will result.
Salvia argentea grows best in rich, well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. It is frost hardy to -20°C (-4°F). A group of these plants makes a stunning ground cover for the front of a sunny border, raised bed or gravel garden, and provides a dramatic background for colourful summer flowers. It combines well with other drought tolerant plants, such as Lavender, Yarrow (Achillea) or Russian sage (Perovskia). It complements purple or magenta flowers and looks gorgeous in a ‘white’ garden.
Use silver sage as a specimen plant, an accent plant in the rock garden, or at the front of the dry sunny border. It can also be grown in containers.
This plant cannot be missed in a sensory garden, children and adults alike have a hard time resisting petting the soft, appealing foliage.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
Salvia argentea has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Sowing: Sow mid to late spring
Sow seed indoors in spring for planting out after danger of frost has passed. Gardeners in colder climates can start silver sage indoors four to six weeks before your last frost date.
Fill pots or trays with a good seed starting compost or well-drained soil. Moisten by standing in trays of water, then drain. Sow the seeds on the surface and cover them with a sprinkling of a little soil over the top of the seeds.
Place the in a bright location and keep the seeds moist, but not wet until germination, usually around 21 to 30 days. Continue to keep the soil moist until the first rosette of leaves form.
Prick out seedlings into individual, larger pots to grow on. In spring, transplant the plants outdoors after all threat of frost has passed.
Space new plants in the ground two to three feet apart to give them room to spread, water them while small but once established, the plants are quite drought-tolerant and you should not need to give it any additional water. Over-watering is a common mistake, often the plants will succumb to root rot and bacterial or fungal diseases.
Grow in moist but very well-drained soil in full sun. This species tolerates heat, humidity, drought, and alkaline soil but must have excellent drainage, especially in winter, in order to thrive. Naturally sandy soil is best otherwise amend the soil with sharp grit or gravel. Protect from excessive winter moisture.
Silver sage flowers in early to mid-summer after its first year. Although the two to three foot candelabra-like flower spikes can be dramatic, developing flowers causes the foliage to deteriorate and weakens the plant. It is best to remove the flower spikes while they are still small and before they set seed (unless you wish to propagate the plants) to help the plant itself live longer.
In the winter the plant dies back mostly to the ground, but it is best to leave the old leaves on the plant until new growth resumes the following spring. The large leaves seem to help shield the crown from excess moisture, keeping the soil around the base drier and helping winter survival.
Apply a balanced organic or commercial fertiliser to your two-year-old and older silver sage plants, according to package directions, in mid to late spring.
Coastal, Flowers Borders and Beds, Mediterranean or Wildlife Gardens, Patio/Container Plants. Cut or Dried Flowers.
Salvia argentea is a hardy plant that is native to dry, stony grasslands of southern Europe, the eastern Mediterranean and northwest Africa. It is just one of over 900 species of salvias, many of which are ornamental and some are edible. Do not confuse silver sage, Salvia argentea with culinary or garden sage, Salvia officinalis. Silver sage is not edible.
Salvia argentea tends to be a short-lived perennial in dry areas and/or if the flowers are removed, but is more typically a biennial in humid climates, especially if allowed to go to seed.
The genus name Salvia, derives from the Latin salveo meaning 'I am healed' or 'I am well', referring to the medicinal qualities of some species. Sometimes known as sage or clary, this is a large genus containing both annual and perennial species
Both the species name and the common name of Silver sage are from the Latin word for silver argentum, in reference to the young leaves that emerge silver-white in spring.
Artemis is the Greek goddess of the hunt.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
- Additional Information
Average Seed Count 25 Seeds Family Lamiaceae Genus Salvia Species argentea Synonym Artemis Common Name Silver Sage Other Common Names Silver Clary Hardiness Hardy Biennial Hardy Hardy to -20°C (-4°F). Short Lived Perennial often used as an annual. Natural Flower Time July to August Height 30cm (12in) Spread 50cm (20in) Soil Rich, well-drained soil Notes Often treated as Annual.