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Products > Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue'
Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue' - Brazilian Blue Sage
Image of Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue'
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Perennial
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae) (Mints)
Origin: Brazil (South America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Dark Blue
Bloomtime: Summer/Fall
Synonyms: [Salvia melanocalyx]
Height: 3-5 feet
Width: 3-5 feet
Exposure: Cool Sun/Light Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue' (Brazilian Blue Sage) - A three- to four-foot-tall busy subshrub (woody at base with herbaceous stems) that can get a bit taller (6 feet) in shade or when not cut back and spreading at least as wide with its tuberous rhizomes. It has attractive 3- to 4-inch-long shade shaped leaves that are shiny mid green above and paler below with prominent veins and blunt teeth along the margins. These leaves are a great foil for the 10- to 15-inch-long terminal inflorescences that appear mid-summer into fall with slender dark stems holding 2 inch long intense two lipped blue flowers that have a hood-like upper lip and a shorter lower one and purple-blue, nearly black, calyxes.

Plant in full sun along the coast but may require some shade in hotter locations in a moderately well drained soil and irrigate occasionally to regularly - this is not what we consider to be a drought tolerant plant. Evergreen in our coastal climate but reliably hardy as a perennial down to USDA zone 8 with foliage emerging in early spring and grown as an annual elsewhere. Prune plants to the ground in late winter and divide clumps every few years for added vigor and to control spread - have heard that it does occasionally seed about the garden, but we have not seen this. With its shorter stature compared to other Salvia guaranitica selections and the very large flowers with dark stems and calyces, this is truly a very attractive sage both to people viewing and also to visiting hummingbirds, bees and butterflies - this plant is a known magnet to hummingbirds.

This cultivar is sometimes listed as 'Black and Blue' or 'Black n' Blue' and is sometimes referred to as possibly being a plant originally known as Salvia melanocalyx. We really don't know which spelling of the cultivar is correct and where it originated but follow the spelling in Betsy Clebsch's The New Book of Salvia. Salvia guaranitica is native to southeastern Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina and is also commonly called Black & Blue Guarani Sage, Sapphire Sage and Anise-scented Sage or Blue Anise Sage for its only slightly fragrant foliage. The name Salvia comes from the name used by Pliny for a plant in the genus and comes from the Latin word 'salvere' meaning "to save" in reference to the long-believed healing properties of several Sage species. The specific epithet means "of Guara" in reference to this plant coming from Guara, Brazil. This cultivar was selected for its nearly-black stems and calyces and was a 1995 selection as a Georgia Gold Medal Winner. Salvia guru, the late Richard Dufresne, believes that this is the same plant that was once called Salvia melanocalyx. We thank local Santa Barbara gardener Janice Adkins for giving us our stock plants and encouraging us to grow it as we have done since 2014. 

This information about Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue' displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.