It’s now late April, and I am enjoying these breath-taking vistas of Lyreleaf sage (Salvia lyrate) in the Arboretum of the South Carolina Botanical Garden (SCBG). This native perennial has put on an excellent show for the past week. Since sources claim this is a long-flowering plant, we should get even more pleasure from them for up to a month or more. Lyreleaf sage has light blue to dark purple tubular flowers arranged in whorls around a central stem. The square stem and two-lipped flowers reveal this as a member of the mint family. Still, unlike many mints, it is not particularly fragrant or tasty. Each plant has a basal rosette of leaves; each leaf is deeply lobed and can be deep green or tinged with purple.
The prolific nature of lyreleaf sage can be harnessed to benefit the home gardener. Their evergreen rosettes make an excellent option for a ground cover. The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center points out that plants are tough enough to be walked on and mowed. This is a very adaptable plant. In the SCBG Arboretum, it is thriving in full sun on a dryish slope and in a shaded, more moist area. An added benefit is the nectar it produces for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
For more information, see HGIC 1852, An Introduction to Native Plants for SC Landscapes, and HGIC Let’s Go Wild!