It’s always a thrill to be able to connect a name with a plant. I enjoy being able to identify unknowns for others, and I’m delighted when someone can help me with those I’m puzzled by, but the very best feeling comes from figuring out an ID for myself.
This salvia has been taunting me for months, ever since I grew it from seed back in the spring. I’d ordered it from a seed exchange as a Lepechinia, but on the seed packet, the genus name had been changed to Salvia. Ok, well…I’m always game to try something new, so I sowed the seeds and got a nice crop of sturdy seedlings. Not knowing what exactly to expect, I tried them in a few spots.
In not-great soil, they reached maybe 18 inches in bloom. Not very floriferous, but nice foliage.
In very rich soil, they shot up to somewhere between 6 and 7 feet.
Flowering began around late August, with somewhat sparse. clear blue flowers.
Google was originally of little help in searching for an ID: Try searching for the words blue and salvia and you end up with over a million web references and almost 200,000 images. Most are for either S. farinacea or S. guarantica, but there are also many other salvias with blue flowers. Hmmm.
I decided that my fellow bloggers could probably solve the mystery in minutes, so the orginal draft of this post was my plea for help. I wanted to appeal to fellow salvia-lovers, whom I addressed as “salviaphiles.” Out of curiosity, I tried Googling that term and, among the links to many less-innocent salvia references, happened to spot Robin’s Salvias. A few minutes of clicking through the extensive photo gallery, and whoa! - my mystery plant now has a name: Salvia macrophylla.
Kind of a let-down, actually. Talk about stating the obvious: wow, it’s a salvia with big leaves; let’s call it Salvia macrophylla. I probably could have figured that out for myself if I’d tried harder. Oh, well. A few other references offer Salvia ‘Peru Blue’ and ‘Tingo Blue’ as synonyms. And now I know it’s not frost-hardy. Apparently there are are two forms: a lower, spreading one that looks like the clump I had in clayey soil and the very upright form that looks like the plants I had in loose, rich soil. I’m not sure if I had two different forms from one seed batch or if (as seems more likely) the soil conditions made a big difference.
It’s not a plant I’d enthusiastically recommend, but if you’re looking for something a little different foliage-wise for containers or borders, if you’re fanatical about true blue flowers, or if you’re a salvia-lover who simply must grow every species you can find, plants are available by mail-order from the good folks at Annie’s Annuals.