Salvia verticillata 'Purple Rain'

Common Name: lilac sage 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Lamiaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Smoky purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerates very light shade, but best in full sun. Tolerates drought. Wet and/or poorly-drained soils can be fatal. Achieves best form in lean to moderately fertile soils. Plant stems tend to flop more in rich soils. Promptly remove spent blooms to extend flowering period. Cut back to basal foliage after flowering to tidy the planting and to encourage a possible fall rebloom.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Salvia verticillata, sometimes commonly called lilac sage, is an erect perennial that typically grows to 30” tall. Whorls of small, two-lipped, lilac-blue flowers in terminal racemes atop erect to arching stems bloom throughout the summer. Flowers are quite attractive to butterflies and bees. Coarse, broad, hairy, ovate-triangular, medium green leaves (to 5” long).

The genus name Salvia comes from the Latin word salveo meaning "to save or heal", in reference to the purported medically curative properties attributed to some plants in the genus.

Specific epithet means having whorls.

'Purple Rain' is a compact plant which typically grows only to 24" tall with a somewhat cascading habit. Features whorls of smoky purple flowers on spires atop long arching or drooping stems.


No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to leaf spot, powdery mildew and rust. White fly and scale are occasional insect pests.


Borders, rock gardens, cottage gardens or wild gardens.