Plant taxonomy classifies Caradonna salvia plants as Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna.' The part in single quotation marks is the cultivar name. A common name for this flower is "meadow sage." In fact, it is in the same genus as common, or "culinary" sage (S. officinalis) so well known as an herb to foodies. The genus name derives from the Latin word salvere, meaning "to heal." Indeed, in addition to its use to flavor meals, common sage has been used medicinally (to improve memory, for example).
Characteristics of the Plants
Caradonna salvia plants reach about 2 feet in height, with a similar spread. However, foliage comprises only about 1 foot of that height: the rest is taken up by the exquisite flower spikes, which tower above the foliage. The small flowers that mass along the spikes are a deep, purplish-blue in color. The spikes are relatively narrow, giving them a delicate appearance. The plants exhibit a rigidly upright growing habit. And even the flower stems themselves are a deep purple, adding to the color display furnished by the flowers.
Sun and Soil Requirements, Native Origin, and Planting Zones
Salvia nemorosa is native to Eurasia. In North America, these perennial flowers are best grown in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 to 8.
Cultivar Choices and Related Plants
Most people new to gardening, when they hear "salvia," think immediately of the red annual, S. splendens. But there are many plants in this genus used ornamentally, including another plant with red flowers known as "Texas sage" (Salvia coccinea), which is a perennial for zones 8 to 10. Perennial gardeners who live farther North will be more interested in S. nemerosa and its hybrids. Besides Caradonna and other types of Salvia flowers, cultivars include (all can be grown in zones 4 to 8):
- 'Bordeau Steel Blue': a lighter blue color (a shade of blue similar to that on 'Blue Hill').
- 'Sensation Rose': pink blooms.
- ‘Schneehugel’ (Snow Hill): white blooms.
- 'Pusztaflamme' (Plumosa): rosy-pink flowers.
- ‘Schwellenburg’: rosy-purple flowers.
- ‘Rosenwein’ (‘Rose Wine’): pink flowers.
Care Tips and Uses in Landscaping
The flowers may be used in cut-flower arrangements, and the dried leaves are fragrant enough to warrant inclusion in potpourris. In the landscape, they make good edging plants, and their medium size makes them useful in the middle row of a layered flower bed.
Outstanding Features of Caradonna Salvia Plants
The rigidly upright growing habit, deep purple stems and delicate flower spikes all work together to give Caradonna salvia plants a striking appearance.