How to Grow May Night Salvia

may night salvia

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

May night salvia plants are known for the rich color of their flowers. They are also valued for the colorful wildlife that they attract to the landscape. They are just one member of a fascinating genus of plants that has something different to offer to growers with a wide variety of tastes. Fast-growing May night salvia plants are herbaceous perennials. They are in the mint family, medium-sized, and should be planted in the late spring or early summer.

May night salvia flowers may be used in cut-flower arrangements, and the dried leaves are sometimes used in potpourri. Some folks eat the young, tender leaves in salads, or alternatively, include them for seasoning in cooked dishes (they are not, however, everyone's cup of tea). But most importantly, the long blooming period of May night salvia makes it a workhorse in the perennial bed. This fact, along with the rich color of the flowers, constitutes the main reason for growing this perennial.

Botanical Name Salvia sylvestris
Common Name May night salvia, May night wood sage, woodland sage, meadow sage
Plant Type Herbaceous perennial
Mature Size 1.5-2 ft. tall, 1-1.5 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Well-draining
Soil pH Acidic, 7.0
Bloom Time May-June (unless flowers are deadheaded, then they can bloom all summer)
Flower Color Dark purple-blue
Hardiness Zones 4-8 (USDA)
Native Area Europe, Asia
Toxicity Non-toxic to humans, pets, and livestock

May Night Salvia Care

May night salvia are gorgeous purple-blue perennials that are suitable for a wide range of growing climates. They're low maintenance, have multiple-season interest, and are relatively pest and disease-free.

The plants start to bloom in the latter half of May, hence their evocative name. This long-blooming perennial plant bears small flowers on spikes and reaches 18- to 24-inches tall, with a similar spread. The lance-shaped leaves add to their vigorous appearance.

May night salvia is a plant that attracts butterflies, and these popular perennials will also draw hummingbirds, honey bees, and bumblebees to your landscaping. Thankfully, they don't attract deer, rabbits, or other creatures, as their strong aroma keeps them away. They're a great addition to your garden.

Light

Grow May night salvia flowers in an area with full sun; a south-facing location is just right for this plant.

Soil

May night salvia needs well-draining soil to be a successful plant; you may need to add sand to the soil to help it drain well.

Water

Although they are drought-tolerant perennials once established, a moderate amount of water must be supplied to young plants.

Temperature and Humidity

May night salvia flowers are best grown in USDA planting zones 4-8.

Fertilizer

Salvias require little or no fertilizer, they're a very easy-going plant to have in your garden. If you're going to feed them, it's best to do so after the blooming season is over.

Is May Night Salvia Toxic?

May night salvia is not toxic to humans or pets. But, some other varieties of salvia do have hallucinogenic qualities—the ancient Greeks used salvia as a memory enhancer!—and if you're not exactly sure what you or Fido has eaten, always make a call to your doctor or veterinarian to be on the safe side.

May Night Salvia Varieties

  • 'Salvia argentea': boasts pretty, silver leaves
  • 'Salvia divinorum': gets the most buzz because it has hallucinogenic properties
  • 'Salvia splendens': has spike-like features and (usually) red flowers

Pruning

If you remove the spent blooms, May night salvia plants will bless you with flowers all summer long. Such long-blooming perennials are a joy to grow for gardeners who care about the sequence of bloom. May night salvia can be pruned by hand, by using clean, garden shears, or can be trimmed down using a string trimmer.

Propagating May Night Salvia

May night salvia stem-cuttings can be grown in either water, soil, or moist compost. To do so, use a sharp, clean gardening shear to cut 2- to 8-inch cuttings. Place the stem in clean water or clean, moist soil. It's time to replant when roots are 3/4-inches long.

Potting and Repotting May Night Salvia

May night salvia does well in containers, but add a gravel/mulch mixture to the soil to help prevent drought.

Overwintering

If your May night salvia is in containers, bring them inside for the winter months if you live outside their hardiness zones.

If yours are in the ground, and you live within the correct hardiness zones, remove dead foliage and cover with a layer of mulch once the ground freezes. Mulch can be raked away in the spring.

Common Pests/Diseases

Scale insects and whitefly have been known to attack salvias. If either of these insect pests bothers your plants, spray them with neem oil, a popular product for organic pest control.

closeup of may night salvia

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

may night salvia

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

may night salvia on a hill

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

may night salvia

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova