Mealy Blue Sage, Salvia farinacea: Low-maintenance and long-blooming perennial
Description: Mealy Blue Sage, Salvia farinacea, also known as Mealycup Sage, is an herbaceous perennial. It is native to New Mexico and Texas; its native habitat includes prairies and the edges of woodlands. Its names “Mealy” and “farinacea” both refer to the way the sepals (the parts around the flower petals) look, which is as if they were dusted with flour or meal and is caused by tiny hairs on them. Mealy Blue Sage grows 18-36 inches tall and 18-36 inches wide. Its leaves are usually about 3 inches long, grey-green to green, and lance-shaped.
Flowers and Seeds: Mealy Blue Sage blooms from April until frost with a bloom peak in April and another in late September or October. Flower spikes with many florets are held above the foliage. The flowers range from white to violet-blue and are 2/3–3/4 inch long, with two stamens and a pistil. Seeds may be collected following flowering.
Planting sites: Mealy Blue Sage thrives in full sun and partial shade, although it blooms more profusely with more sun. It tolerates a range of soil pH.
Watering Instructions: Like many Texas natives, Mealy Blue Sage may need supplemental water during its first season in the garden, but after it is established, it will only need water in an extended drought. Too much water will result in it being “leggy”. Mealy Blue Sage should be planted where it will receive adequate drainage; it will not tolerate “wet feet.”
Comments: Mealy Blue Sage is a great plant for North Texas. It has a nice fragrance, is deer resistant, blooms for a long time and is drought resistant. It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds and has been recognized by ecologists for its value of attracting native bees. Several named cultivars are available in nurseries including both “Henry Duelberg” and “Augusta Duelberg”. These selections were found by Greg Grant in a non-irrigated section of a rural Central Texas cemetery in mid-summer around the graves of the Duelbergs. “Henry Duelberg” is deep blue, while “Augusta” is white. All Mealy Blue Sage varieties may be pruned to about half their height in mid-summer to encourage more compact growth in the fall. In addition to propagating it through seed, Mealy Blue Sage may also be propagated via cuttings.
Look for the NICE! Plant of the Season signs and information sheets on your next visit to a participating North Texas nursery. Thank you for using native plants in your landscapes.
Written by Dr. Becca Dickstein