Glorious color like heaven on earth.
Repeat performance at your command.
No garden is complete without a variety of Salvias, and new Salvia neromosa ‘Ave Maria’ is definitely worth considering. The bloomscapes are gorgeous even before the florets begin to open, and there’s lots of aesthetic value playing out between the deep red buds and the light purple petals. Magnificent comes to mind, waves of summer wine. Sometimes it’s a dark burgundy, and then there’s the pale wine froth of open blooms that shove the interest meter up to high.
A long standing favorite of butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees, Salvia neromosa blooms reliably from early summer into fall in zones 3-9. They throw out richly-hued flower stems that add a lot of life to any planting for weeks on end that is easily made to happen again and again. The trick is knowing just where to clip off the spent bloomscape. If you cut the stem back too far, you’ll be waiting a lot longer for more flowers to appear.
This image to the right is NOT Ave Maria, but it gives enough stem detail to best explain where you cut old blooms off for the fastest repeat blooming on Salvias. Above the first leaf set – note the red marks in the image. Leave a little nub of old stem. The new flower buds form just above where the leaves are on the stem. If you procrastinate long enough at deadheading (like until the old bloom head is a dried skeleton) you’ll see tiny dark buds forming not far above the leaves. You don’t want to cut those off, so just ignore the cut off stems sticking up for a week or two and soon they’ll be hidden by new flowerscapes. The best time to deadhead is when about two-thirds of the petals have fallen off the bloom stem. Delay lets the plant concentrate on creating seed instead of new flowers.
If you’ve grown one ornamental salvia, you haven’t experienced the beauty that playing one tone against another brings to the display. Pairing Ave Maria up with both a lighter blooming S. neromosa variety. Perhaps Pink Friesland or Rose Queen. Naturally this would look stunning in front roses, especially light coral or soft pink.
At 18-24″ tall and 18″ wide, this is the perfect middle of the border perennial. The drought tolerance once established, and it’s ability to give you fresh blooms through the season when you deadhead regularly, make Salvia Ave Maria a candidate for one of your garden favorites. Do keep in mind that ‘drought tolerant’ doesn’t mean no watering is needed. The plant may survive spells of dry conditions, but it won’t be lush and beautiful. Stressed plants never bloom as heavily as those that are struggling just to live.
Trademark & Nomenclature
Salvia neromosa ‘Ave Maria’ PPAF