The Garden Guy: Amistad Salvia

Giving Your Landscape the Royal Treatment
By Norman Winter


Until something unseats it, Amistad salvia has to be considered the most beautiful salvia to ever hit the market. Amistad is a Salvia guaranitica or anise sage and has a rich purple violet hue fit for royalty. You can’t fault a name like Amistad or Friendship salvia but, to me, this special plant deserves something regal. As Shakespeare once said, “What’s in a name?”


The most important thing is for you buy it and include in your flower border this spring. Do it for the beauty it exudes and the tremendous number of hummingbirds (and other pollinators) it will attract.


We planted ours as part of the Southern Living plant collection trial program. When local nurserymen came to our garden party, they were stunned by the salvia and quickly included it in their product line. Lucky for us, we received the Sunshine ligustrum for trial in the same shipment. This golden leafed beauty just so happens to perform equally as well and makes an absolutely stunning partner for the Amistad salvia.


The Amistad is rated to ten degrees in cold hardiness. I assure you that even if you have to treat it as an annual, it is worth every penny. Amistad can grow large, forming a clump four feet tall by four feet wide.


Amistad, with its elegant royal purple blooms and black calyxes, will thrive in full sun which allows its beauty to be revealed all day or in morning-sun-afternoon shade. Ours are usually blooming by the first of May, a regal show that will last until the first frost.



To grow yours, choose a site in full to part sun for best flowering. Again, our beds get direct afternoon sun. This plant is winter-hardy from zones eight to ten but only with good drainage. If cold winters are coupled with soggy soil, the plant will be history. On the other hand, good winter drainage and mulch may insure you a spring return. In colder areas, this will be one of the finest annuals, blooming from summer through frost.


To help with drainage issues, prepare your soil before planting by adding three to four inches of organic matter like fine pine bark or compost, and till to a depth of eight to ten inches. While preparing the bed, incorporate two pounds of a 12-6-6 slow-release fertilizer with minor nutrients. Plant them at the same depth they are growing in the container spacing, two to three feet apart.


Amistad will have no trouble reaching four to five feet in height so plant toward the back of the border. In addition to integrating the Sunshine ligustrum, we gave a tropical look to our bed by incorporating bananas for the element of bold leaf texture. We also planted a few of the golden-yellow version of the tropical milkweed. Yellow and gold makes the perfect complementary color scheme.


I’ve always suggested that if you want to look like you’ve used a landscape designer, then try partnering blue with violet. There is something about this color combination that adds a WOW factor. In this case, try planting with Blue Fortune agastache. This will give you an incredibly beautiful backyard habitat that’s welcoming to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Follow me on Facebook at Norman Winter, The Garden Guy.