Beautiful sprouting stems, green foliage, and pink to purple blossoms – at first glance, Salvia, Russian Sage, and Veronica look identical. But, at closer look, you can see they are quite different.
There are many factors to identifying plants – flowers, bloom time, foliage, branching habits, size, and growth. Each plant has specific characteristics, care, and use! In this blog, we describe the differences between these gorgeous perennials.
Salvia (aka Meadow Sage)
Flowers: Salvia and Veronica are similar in color, dark purple to rose pink to white dense blooms. In the summer, Salvia flower spikes bloom abundantly and have larger flowers than Veronica. Salvia is also great for pollinators because they have lipped/lobed petals that create a perfect landing zone for a pollinator insect party!
Bloom Time: Salvia blooms June through September, and has the potential to re-bloom.
Foliage & Branching Habits: Salvia is in the mint family. It has square stems and opposite blue-green leaves that are round with slight notches. Also, when you rub the leaves of Salvia, there is a noticeable minty aroma.
Size & Growth: Salvia can grow to be 12-24 inches tall.
Care & Companions: Salvia is deer and rabbit resistant and quite dense. It has an upright growth habit and enjoys full early spring to fall sunshine. Salvia pairs well with Blanket Flower, Black-Eyed Susan, Coneflowers, and more. It is a great plant to fill in space because it gets so big. Prune old flowers of Salvia to encourage continued blooming.
Varieties at Bucks Country Gardens: Blue Hill – true blue flowers, tough, perfuse grower. We have an abundance of Blue Hill Salvia flourishing amongst our roses in our garden beds. Blue Marvel – larger bright blue flowers. Caradonna – blue violet flowers, dark purple flower stems, and long showy bloom.
Flowers: Russian Sage always has lavender purple flowers. These flowers are tall and airy, creating a lavender-blue cloud of color.
Bloom Time: Russian Sage is one month behind Salvia, blooming July through October.
Foliage & Branching Habits: Russian Sage is also in the mint family, just like Salvia. It is similar in resemblance, with square stems and opposite blue-green leaves. When you rub the leaves of Russian Sage, you also get a minty aroma. Russian Sage differentiates from Salvia with its fern-like foliage. It grows quite long and will spread out low, hanging heavy towards the ground.
Size & Growth: Russian Sage is shrub-like, with woody stems, and matures to about 3 feet tall and about 3 or more feet wide!
Care & Companions: Russian Sage is drought tolerant and deer/pest resistant. Pollinators are attracted to their fragrant scent. Because Russian Sage loves the heat and summer sun, they are superb companions for Succulents, Ornamental Grasses, Butterfly Bushes, and other perennials like Cone Flowers, Milkweed, and Bee Balm. Russian Sage should be pruned in early spring.
Varieties at Bucks Country Gardens: Perovskia Atriplicifolia/Superba – light blue/lavender flowers grey-green foliage.
Veronica (aka Speedwell)
Flowers: Veronica and Salvia are similar in color, dark purple to rose pink to white dense blooms. Veronica blooms mature from the bottom up, so sometimes the tips of the blooms appear green while the lower flowers are blooming.
Bloom Time: Veronica usually blooms in early summer and lasts until autumn.
Foliage & Branching Habits: Veronica is from the plantain family. It has round stems and glossy, bright green leaves. When rubbed together, it does not produce a minty smell like Russian Sage and Salvia.
Size & Growth: Veronica tends to be a bit smaller than the other two plants. It matures to about 8-15 inches tall depending on the variety.
Care & Companions: Veronica loves summer sun. They are great because deer don’t tend to bother them and are perfect for mixing in container or pollinator gardens. Veronica may be cut back to basal growth at the end of the season, and divided every 2-3 years, in early spring.
Varieties at Bucks Country Gardens: Royal Candles – deep purple-blue flowers, deep green leaves and Red Fox – deep rose-red/fuchsia spiked blooms, bright green foliage.
Salvia, Russian Sage, and Veronica have many similarities and can be easily misidentified, but now you should be able to tell the difference between them! They all are sun-loving perennials, need fast draining soil, and require little watering after they are established. They are easy to care for, making them excellent beginner plants.
Watch our short video of Ann, Greenhouse Assistant, to learn more about these three plants. Or come on into the Garden Center and one of our garden experts will be able to determine the best plant for your space. Now that you have the knowledge… time to go out and plant!
June is Perennial Month… Come in and shop! All perennials are 20% OFF. Caradonna Salvia and Red Fox Veronica is Buy 1, Get 1 FREE now though June 14, 2017!
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Ann Buckwalter | Greenhouse Assistant
Nature Hills Garden Blog