Salvia azurea 'Nekan'
Common Name: blue sage
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Lamiaceae
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to October
Bloom Description: Blue
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates drought. Prefers moist, gravelly or sandy soils with good drainage. Plant stems may be cut back by up to 1/2 in late spring to promote compactness and prevent stem flopping. Plants may repeat bloom from summer to fall, but need regular moisture to encourage this. Remove spent flower spikes to help extend the bloom period. If plant foliage depreciates in hot summer conditions to the point where it looks unsightly, consider trimming back. In any event, cut plants back after flowering has concluded.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Salvia azurea, commonly called blue sage, is a clump-forming perennial that typically grows to 3-5’ tall (shorter if pruned). Whorls of 2-lipped, azure blue flowers bloom in spikes from mid-summer to fall atop stiff stems clad with linear to lanceolate to obovate, grayish-green leaves (to 3-4” long). Salvia azura var. azura is native from North Carolina and Tennessee south to Florida and Texas. Salvia azurea var. grandiflora grows further west to New Mexico and further north to Nebraska and Minnesota. Although similar in appearance, var. grandiflora has larger flowers and is often considered to be a better garden plant than var. azurea.

Genus name 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 sky-blue for the azure blue flowers.

‘Nekan’ (abbreviation of Nebraska and Kansas) is a seed strain that was found growing in the wild in an area north of Lincoln, Nebraska. It features whorls of 2-lipped, azure blue flowers in spikes atop stiff stems with linear grayish-green leaves. Its main claim to fame is that it reportedly has larger flowers and is more robust than the species.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Perennial borders, cottage gardens, prairies, wild areas.