Save Room for Salvias, One of Monarchs’ Favorites
Salvias are beautiful, easy to grow in Dallas, and attract the butterflies like crazy. If you see Monarchs resting on these happy blooms, and wish you could entice them into your garden, plan on planting salvias next season.
There are a lot of Salvias—in fact over 1000 types of annual, perennial and woody species originate from southern Europe and North and South America. Out of all those, there is a nice handful that grow perfectly in our North Texas climate. My absolute favorite is one called, “Mystic Spires Blue.” This salvia is a newer, shorter hybrid that originates from “Indigo Spires,” which is a much larger variety.
Mystic Spires Blue
“Mystic Spires Blue” flowers very freely all season. It produces large quantities of true blue flowers, is heat resistant, and has virtually no pests or disease problems. It is hardy to USDA zone 7. For folks that have a problem with deer eating their landscape, this plant, like most salvias, is usually left alone by our hungry friends.
In mid to late summer you can prune it back quite vigorously, and the new growth will produce the great fall flowers that the butterflies and bees love. The nectar-rich flowers are a favorite for all the nectar feeders including humming birds and, of course, Monarchs. I have seen hundreds of Monarchs feeding on our ‘‘Mystic Spires Blue” flowers in the Arboretum, taking a rest as they migrate through our region.
Some other types of salvia that we like here at the Arboretum are:
- “Black and Blooms” – a hybrid that is fairly compact and has black calyxes (the lower part of the bloom) and true blue flower petals. Its unique colors stand out in the garden.
- “Wendy’s Wish” – a vigorous grower that can reach over four feet in height but is easily pruned back. It regrows with gusto if you do prune it. It has long, weeping bloom spikes, with dark pink colored petals.
- “Salvia Greggii” – one of the toughest salvias around. This is a Texas native, found growing wild in south Texas. It is very drought tolerant and thanks to lots of breeding and selection, comes in many colors from white to dark red. The plant has small, round leaves that have a strong pungent sent, depending on who you ask it is pleasant or unpleasant.
If you’re interested in seeing salvias in action, you can come check them out at the Dallas Arboretum, populated with thousands of Monarchs all October. Feel free to ask our horticulture staff or master growers (walking around in green vests) if you have any questions about this Next time you are planting you might give one of these a try or better yet, visit the Arboretum and see which one you like best.
Thanks for reading!
Vice President of Gardens