Mealy blue sage (Salvia farinacea var. farinacea Benth) is an attractive wildflower native to a wide range in the southern United States, including Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma (Correll and Johnston, 1970; Diggs et al., 1999). Mealy blue sage, a member of the Lamiaceae family, is native to areas characterized by rocky outcroppings, limestone prairies, floodplains, and hillsides.
This herbaceous perennial is valued for its violet–blue flower spikes and informal growth habit (Arnold, 2002). Bloom period for this native is dependable from late spring to frost. The spiciform inflorescence is borne on a naked peduncle and is composed of multiflowered clusters (Correll and Johnston, 1970). The name mealy blue sage is derived from the white tomentose covering of the calyx, which may have a violet–blue tinge. The foliage of the var. farinacea is ovate–lanceolate with slender petioles, whereas the ecotype with truncate or subcordate bases has attained the varietal status of var. latifolia Shinners. The attractive flowers are pollinated by a wide variety of medium to large bee species (Neff, 2003).
Mealy blue sage is an herbaceous perennial in U.S. Department of Agriculture Zones 7 through 10 and may be used as an attractive annual color plant in cooler climates (Arnold, 2002). This plant is primarily used in native and low-maintenance landscapes under demanding environments. Although propagation by seed is common (Nokes, 1986), asexual propagation may be accomplished easily from softwood or semihardwood cutting. Very little seed dormancy is exhibited, so no pretreatment is required for successful germination. Mealy blue sage reaches marketable 3.8-L container size in ≈20 weeks (Knowles, et al., 1993). Tipton (1992) determined mealy blue sage to have the highest germination percent between 25 and 28 °C with germination reaching in excess of 96%. Allelopathy, however, has been observed in several species of Salvia. Baskin and Baskin (1998) reported bare zones 1 to 2 m from the crowns of Salvia spp. As a result of the presence of volatile compounds released by these shrubs, the germination of other herbaceous species is inhibited. Volatiles found in Salvia spp. included the terpenes camphor, α-pinene, β-pinene, cineole, camphene, and dipetene (Muller and Muller, 1964).
Baskin, C.C. & Baskin, J.M. 1998 Seeds: Ecology, biogeography, and evolution of dormancy and germination 347 349 Academic Press New York
Diggs, G.M., Lipscomb, B.L. & O'Kennon, R.J. 1999 Shinners & Mahler's illustrated flora of north central Texas Botanical Research Institute of Texas Ft. Worth, TX 776
Knowles, T.C., Hipp, B.W. & Hegemann, M.A. 1993 Container medium and slow-release nitrogen fertilizer influence growth and quality of Salvia farinacea HortScience 28 623 625
Neff, J.L. 2003 A distinctive new Perdita species (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Andrenidae) from West–Central Texas associated with Salvia (Lamiaceae) Pan-Pac. Entomol. 79 66 70