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~ The Gentian Sage, Salvia patens ~

One of the few, true blue flowering plants available, the Gentian Sage grows like a weed into an impressive shrubby plant. Few blooms are of a purer blue than this plant. The arrangement of the blooms on the stem is sparse, as is typical of hummingbird-pollinated flowers. This can be compensated for by plating a large bed of Gentian Sage, or contrast with bold colored flowers such as lemon yellow or hot pink. This Mexico native is frequently used as an annual in Canada, and as such can be purchased in annual flats. It is easily raised from seed, but they are not carried by every seed house; a list of links below will help you find those that do. The plant produces few seeds, so the price tends to be a little higher than average.

The Gentian Sage is especially valuable in the garden because its tops can be cut down and its tuberous roots lifted in the fall and stored like dahlias, in sand or hamster bedding chips. They can be divided to increase your stock and create a huge display the following summer, or kept undivided if larger, earlier flowering plants are desired. To start the tubers into growth in the spring, pot them in the spring and provide them with moderate heat,

A few seed strains are available, including the species, 'Cambridge Blue' (sky blue) and 'Blue Angel,' a striking medium blue, 'Lavender Lady,' in pale lavender-blue, 'White Trophy,' a white variety and 'Guanajuato,' a giant (1-2 m in height) variety.

Refrigerate seeds until ready to plant to maintain freshness. Sow seed in pots or trays of moist seed compost. Do not cover the seed, as light helps germination. Keep at normal room temperature. Keep moist; germination occurs within 2-4 weeks. Transplant to larger pots as necessary. Gentian sage is very tolerant of the hardening process and tolerates the indoor-outdoor transition easily. Distance the plants by 20-30cm. Consider harvesting the seeds that ripen in late summer - a maximum of 4 seeds are produced per fertilized bloom.

Click to enlarge

Companion to carmine impatiens

Up close

Companion to annual phlox

up close

Another view

Tuberous roots

Gentian Sage Seed Suppliers

Thompson and Morgan - Offers the wild type and 'Cambridge Blue' varieties.
Plant - A Canadian source for the species.
Vesey's - A Canadian source for the the seed strain 'Blue Angel.'
Thompson and Morgan UK - UK source for the plant 'Guanajuato.'

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