653 Salvia guaraniticaCommon Names: blue anise sage, Brazilian sage, anise sage Family: Lamiaceae (mint Family)
Blue anise sage is a semi-woody perennial subshrub with a loose, bushy, rather open form. It gets 3-5 ft (0.9-1.5 m) tall and just as wide, and has branched, dark green stems that are square in cross section. The branches and leaves are in pairs originating on opposite sides of the stems. The leaves are 2-5 in (5.1-12.7 cm) long, more or less oval in shape, slightly toothed, dark green, wrinkled above and pale green below. They do not smell like anise. The individual flowers are tubular, to 2 in (5.1 cm) long, with a hoodlike upper lip and a shorter, downward pointing lower lip. They are borne in showy 10 in (25.4 cm) spikes from early summer to late autumn.
Popular cultivars are 'Argentina Skies', with pale blue flowers; 'Black and Blue', a larger selection, to 6 ft (1.8 m) tall, with deep blue flowers and dark purple calyces (the part of the flower that encloses the base of the petals); and 'Purple Splendour', with very dark purple flowers.
Blue anise sage, Salvia guaranitica, is native to Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina.
CultureLight: Blue anise sage does well in partial shade to full sun. Too much shade will cause the stems to become elongated and fall over. Moisture: Needs moderate water, especially in full sun in summer. Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 11. Blue anise sage grows as a shrub in frost-free climates. It freezes to the ground and sprouts back in spring in zones 8 and 9A. It can be cultivated as an annual in colder climes. It might be possible to maintain blue anise sage in zone 7 if mulched heavily in winter. Propagation: Cuttings are fairly easy to root. Take fast-growing tip cutting in spring or semi-hard tip cuttings in summer or fall. Results are better with bottom heat.
Blue anise sedge is a reliable bloomer throughout the whole summer. It has a tendency to get pretty large after a few good years, so give it some room. Use it in the background in borders and in mixed shrub and perennial plantings. The deep blue-flowered cultivars are especially showy. Hummingbirds and butterflies love most of the sages and this one is no exception, so be sure to include it in your butterfly garden.
Salvia is the largest genus in the mint family with some 900 species of annuals, perennials and soft-wooded shrubs, including culinary and medicinal herbs as well as garden ornamentals. Many outstanding South and Central American species have been brought into cultivation just since the 1980's.
Steve Christman 4/13/00; updated 2/7/04