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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Salvia lyrata 'Purple Knockout'

Do any of you grow Salvia lyrata 'Purple Knockout'? I bought this plant at least 4 or 5 years ago. It was a single small piece in a 4" pot.

I just finished googling this plant and it's still for sale at many places, it's the price that shocks me. One place had it listed at $9.95 in a three inch pot.

Salvia lyrata 'Purple Knockout' really is a knockout, the foliage is just lovely and I wish I had a close up of the delicate blooms.

This is as close as I could get but I'm wondering if you are seeing what I am seeing. Where are these plants growing? While I was told this plant is a perennial, I'm still not sold on that. I can never find a clump of one plant that I think was there last year. Instead, I find these beautiful seedlings in the general vicinity. The crazy thing is they never seem to seed into the beds, they seed into the crushed shell walkway.

I tried to make this photo more attractive but had no luck. This was taken along my gravel driveway yesterday morning. As you can see, I've got Salvia lyrata seedlings by the hundreds. They are lining my entire perennial border, only once again, they are not in the garden, they are in the driveway.

There is good news. The seedlings are very shallow rooted and pop right up with a dandelion fork. Almost any other seedling plucked out of the gravel this way doesn't survive well but these babies hit the potting soil running.

For the first time I've been making a concerted effort to pot them up for our Mother's Day plant sale. If we sold them for the price that's listed on the three different catalogs I just googled, we'd be rich! I just can't imagine though charging more than $3 for these sweet babies.

I'd love to hear from other people who grow this plant. I've seen it potted up in containers (it looks lovely there) but not in too many other gardens. I'm wondering if I should treat it as a rock garden plant and move it over by my succulents. It sure would be charming popping up in and out of those hens and chicks.

Any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

I grow this plant in zone 9 in Louisiana. I love the way it looks, so delicate but it is a strong little plant. I have grown in partial shade here next to the pond garden. It has reseeded every year, sometimes in places you would never expect.

linnie in Destrehan, LA 4/12/08

LisaBee said...

Wow, wish I lived close enough to come to your sales!
I also have a bunch of things that seem quite happy to seed themselves in gravel-- lots of california poppies, some ornamental grasses, euphorbia. I just sort of assumed they'd grow anywhere!

Esther Montgomery said...


You might be able to help about 'Salvia'.

By chance, I was looking at Sage yesterday evening.

Hadn't previously known it was a version of Salvia.

I thought I had White Sage - because it isn't purple.

But when I looked it up on Google, 'White Sage' (which I was thinking was the same as Salvia Officianalis) seemed to be something quite different. (Also called Californian Sage - a hallucinogenic.)

Do you happen to know which is what?


garden girl said...

No suggestions for you Melanie, since I've never seen that salvia. I do love purple-leafed plants, and the salvia is very pretty. I might be a bit
'scared' of something that self seeds so prolifically.

I'm spoiled here, sort of. So much shade means I can't grow a lot of the blooms I used to have and love. On the other hand, I have very few weeds to pull. That's the part I like, since I like to look at the garden more than I like to weed it. Then again, on the other hand, I have few volunteer seedlings here, unless you count maple seedlings!

Cinj said...

Well gee, if you'd have labelled your post I could have picked it! Haha. It looks to me like they're spreading seeds too. I have luck with my pansies too if they start popping up in my rock garden, but you're right; just about anything else is a goner if they don't fall into the flower bed.

Lin said...

Salvia lyrata 'Purple Knockout': Interesting plant. I looked it up and found:
"The young leaves have a mild minty flavor and may be used in salads or cooked as a potherb. The entire plant (harvested and dried as the flowers begin to bloom in the spring), or just the seeds, can be brewed as a tea, which, sweetened with honey, makes a soothing bedtime beverage. The seeds can be ground into flour and used in baking bread. The leaves were once thought to be useful as an external "cure" for cancer. They were also considered a remedy for warts and the roots were made into an astringent salve and applied to sores. The tea was used to treat asthma, coughs, and colds and as a gargle for sore throats and mouth infections.(
Growing and Maintenance Tips
S. lyrata is native to the wood's edge, thickets and tall meadows of the eastern US. It prefers average to wet, clay or sandy soils in full sun. Drought and humidity tolerant. Readily reseeds itself and is easily propagated by seed. Cut back in the fall. May be used as a perennial border, woodland edge or in native gardens."

Thanks for posting about it. I'm going to look for it.

Nancy J. Bond said...

Have never grown this particular salvia, but it looks very pretty.

Gail said...


Glad you found them and love salvia lyrata as much as I do, aren't they the sweetest little flower? This plant in its species form grows all over my yard...when it's stressed it turns purple! Oh those hybridizers! It's native to cedar glades so gravel is a perfect home. I plop these guys out of the soil and replant them all the time. They appear they are evergreen/purple...I am using them as a ground cover in one area in the lawn. Gail

Melanie said...

Linnie, glad to hear it behaves the same way for other people. I really love this little plant but the way it seeds about I wonder why I've never seen it anywhere.

Lisabee, my gravel seems to be a seedling magnet. Unfortunately most seedlings don't like getting dug out of it :-(

Esther, I grow Salvia verticillata 'White Rain'. It looks just like the purple variety but it's white. I also have 'Purple Rain'. They seed around quite a bit but I can't tell the purple seedlings from the white seedlings until they bloom. There are more white seedlings than purple ones.

I've never heard of California sage but when I googled it, I got images that didn't look like anything in my garden. Sorry I'm not more helpful.

Linda, I wouldn't be afraid of this baby. Yes it seeds but not to the degree that it would be a problem. I also have tons of them which is how I get tons of seedlings.

Cinj, thanks for the tip, who stole my label?

Lin, wow that was some cool information. Thanks for posting it here, I hope you find this plant, I love having it in my garden.

Nancy, I wish you did grow it because then I know there would be a decent photo to look at!

Gail, how am I not surprised that you grow this Salvia too :-) I like your idea of using them as a ground cover and I might do the same here in one area. I'm also going to add one or two to my little rock garden.

chey said...

Haven't grown this salvia, but love the burgundy foliage and the way it reseeds itself!

Frances, said...

Hi Melanie, I have this plant, bought it in Asheville several years ago, it was fairly pricey then too. I agree that it may not come back but seeds like crazy. I have it in every bed, gravel path, shade or sun, wet or dry. If I don't like it, it's gone, like yours. It seems to even take some foot traffic, looks like yours does too. I also have the native green, living in TN like Gail, it grows under the pine trees at the sunny edge. I think it, the purple, would be good with the succulents, just pull any you don't want. Great idea.

Frances at Faire Garden

Anna said...

Oh boy, Salvias are Sages and Sages are Salvias and all are Mints. Funny isn't it? Some make you dream and others make you curse their existance. We have some varieties outlawed here in NC. But yours is surely pretty. I hope you get that $9 a pot. If you don't, ya'll can sign up to be Bering Sea crab fishermen. It will only take two weeks out of your time and you'll make loads of money for your cause.

Esther Montgomery said...

Thank you for your answer about the sage, and for your extra comment on my blog.


(I came here yesterday but was just rushing round without saying anything!)

This is what I've replied on my blog.

'I think I know what's what now.

It's the international nature of the internet that is both interesting and confusing.

People in separate parts of the world happily use the same name for different plants without confusion.

It's only when we go through google images (which is what I did) that it gets muddling.

My sage is common-or-garden Salvia Officinalis in the white (as opposed to purple version). It's totally unexceptional and everyone who grows perennial herbs here has it.

I would have stuck with that if typing 'white sage' into google (to check the spelling!) hadn't turned up the Californian version.

Then, I found 'white sage' being used in an extaodinary garden in Kent - where they were splashing 'white sage' against north american totem poles which had been carved in Bali. (!?!?)

At this point, I got very confused. They've got Ayers Rock in their garden too. (Open to the public). And a model cobra. And they wear feathered head-dresses.


So - I think Salvia Azurra is the Californian White Sage (which seems to be used as a hallucinogin as well as medicinally) and Salvia Officinalis - which is the white sage I have (and which Ming likes to put in stews but I think it is too strong and food with it in tastes horrid!)

(It doesn't even look good in the garden - so I don't recommend it!)



Christy said...

I encountered your blog when I Googled 'Purple Knockout.' I agree with you entirely: transplant the seedlings where you want them. I, too, find the plant to be short-lived; but I love it. I live in Charlestown, RI which is Zone 6.

I'm bookmarking your blog, so that I can read it when I have more time. Your beds pictured in your heading remind me of my own. Christy Russell