Salvia verbenaca | ‘Vervain Salvia’, ‘Wild Clary’, ‘Wild Clary Sage’, ‘Wild Sage’ | 25 seeds
Salvia verbenaca (commonly known as the ‘Wild Clary’, ‘Wild Sage’, ‘Wild Clary Sage’ or ‘Vervain Salvia’) is a vibrantly-coloured and generally quite gorgeous flowering herbaceous perennial which grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9. Indigenous to the British Isles, the Caucasus, Near East, North Africa and to Mediterranean Southern Europe, Salvia verbenaca, has also been successfully introduced to parts of the USA.
A tall (up to a metre and a half or so), hairy-stemmed and sprawling plant, ‘Wild Clary’ produces toothed or pinnate, grey-green basal leaves that grow anywhere from around three to ten centimetres long. The attractive blue-purple-violet open-mouthed flowers (mainly pollinated by bees) formed by verbenaca appear from June to September, with its seeds ripening from July to October. As with several other of the Salvia species, plant material from verbenaca has been used as a flavouring, to brew herbal teas and as a salad ingredient, and the thick mucilage formed by its seeds can be used to make an ophthalmic mixture too.
Salvia verbenaca grows best in well-drained, neutral to alkaline sandy soils – ideally situated in a full sun position. This wonderfully aromatic species can often be found growing in churchyards (likely originating from the common practice of sowing it on to graves during the medieval period) or on dry and/or open grassland, roadsides, sand dunes and sunny banks.
Sow in the greenhouse in March or April, else outside in the spring or autumn in a place that receives full sun to partial shade. The majority of the seed should germinate by the two-week mark. When the seedlings are hardy enough to safely do so, prick them out of the germination container into individual plants, planting into the ground during early summer. Once mature, plants should be spaced approximately fifty to one hundred centimetres apart for best growth. Water regularly in average amounts, but be careful not to overdo it!
Considering Salvia verbenaca as a native species has been on the decline in the UK since at least 1962, we highly recommend having a go at growing it yourself – not only is it a beautiful addition to any wildflower collection, but you’ll be helping to conserve a truly gorgeous species too!
All the seed sold by Arkham’s Botanical was freshly and ethically sourced in 2018.