A stunning salvia - 'Caradonna'

What a great garden plant! This salvia flowers with spikes of violet-purple atop glowing, purple-black stems from June to October, and is a magnet for butterflies and bees.

At Wisley you can find Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna' in the NGS Family Garden (in the Model Gardens) and in the Glasshouse Garden around the Glasshouse Lake. And in the Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden, sponsored by Witan Investment Trust, we have them en masse, where they sit beautifully surrounded by not only pale pink roses, but large, yellow leaves of a young Catalpa bignoniodes ‘Aurea’, a deep purple heuchera, orange Kniphofia uvaria, and tall heleniums.

They fit so well with such a wide range of plants and situations that you can have an awful lot of designing fun with this plant that will perform in almost any way you want it to. The grey-green, aromatic foliage also makes an attractive accent in the summer border. What a star!

It’s easy too. Grow it in light, moderately-fertile soil, where it’ll thrive in a sunny spot and become drought tolerant once established (the species name nemorosa means growing in groves or woods so it’s just as happy in a shady spot).

If you have time, remove the flower spikes as soon they start to fade to encourage more to form. Give it a boost by applying a generous 5-7cm (2-3in) mulch of well-rotted garden compost or manure around the base of the plant in spring.

Useful links

Find out more about other wildlife-friendly plants for pollinators

See supplier details for Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna'

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  • JimG

    By JimG on 11/01/2015

    I have one in a lovely pot from RHS. I did cut it back in the August the faded heads. I am in Devon and rather mild at the moment. However I have not cut it back - can I do that in January? How far back - please bear in mind I am a novice. It currently has tall brown dried flower heads.

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