Salvia – ‘Amistad’


Salvia Amistad in flower with deep purple, almost black blooms (with day lilies, and lavender behind). 26 July 2020

Salvia Amistad has an attractive scent, with deep purple (almost black) flowers which bloom from May to October.

Perennial sages display spiky flowers from summer through to autumn.  Salvia ‘Amistad’ bears unusually large, deep purple flowers with almost-black calyces and stems.  It makes an excellent cut flower.  Scented, this plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and moths. 

  • Prefers moist well-drained soil.
  • When planting out, condition the soil with multipurpose compost and use a general all-purpose fertiliser.
  • Grow Salvia ‘Amistad’ in a sunny, sheltered spot in well-drained soil. 
  • Grows up to 1.2 metres tall and 50 cm across.
  • Remove spent flowers to encourage repeat flowering.
  • Dies back in winter and regrows in spring.
  • Good for low maintenance gardens.
  • Generally disease and pest free but can be effected by slugs and snails.
  • Mulch annually with well-rotted manure or garden compost.  
  • Plants may need protection in the harshest winters.  Can survive cold temperatures down to -5 degrees Celcius.
  • If required, tender salvias can be lifted, potted and grown on under protection in a greenhouse or conservatory.
  • Established plants that have survived the winter should not be trimmed back and tidied until late spring, when the new growth has started and the risk of frosts has passed.

Propagate by softwood cuttings in spring or early summer and  semi-ripe cuttings in late summer or autumn.  It is advisable to take a few cuttings in late summer as insurance against any losses during a severe winter.

Give salvias the ‘Hampstead hack’ in early July to encourage good growth and flowering into autumn.

A hardy variety of salvia is Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy‘ which bears deep purple and white flowers, and can grow up to 6×6 feet.

Salvia darcyi is red flowering and is said to be hardy once established, and flowers for months.  It spreads in favourable conditions.


I planted a nicely sized Salvia Amistad into the long flower bed by railing in back patch July 2018 (planted behind forward patch of gladioli).

We lost a magnificent salvia transplanted from the comrade’s back garden in the winter of 2017-2018.  It was Mr G’s favourite flower.  We will have two patches this summer – one along the front bed behind the gladioli and also in the corner patch near where the deceased original salvia was planted.

In late August 2018 another blue-flowering Salvia was planted in the woods’ half circle bed, and a small fuschia/pink flowering Salvia planted to the side of the blackberry & white rose pergola in the back patch.


Some Notes on Salvias in General (See RHS, The Garden, September 2018, p.52)

  • There are over 900 Salvia species, found all across the world (except Australasia).
  • They generally flower and are at their best in September, when other flowers have passed their best.
  • Well-drained neutral soil is essential – fork in grit on heavier soils, plant on a slight mount.
  • Feed with high-potassium fertiliser, such as tomato feed.
  • Overwinter delicate varieties in a frost-free glasshouse.
  • Hardy varieties can be protected with organic mulch in cold areas, with flowering stems left to over-winter in order to provide protection before the growth is cut back by three-quarters in April to the new developing buds.  Shrubby cultivars can be cut back a third or a half in early July.
  • Check the origin of the variety before you plant, as preferred habitats vary.
  • Apart from Mediterranean varieties all salvias need a good watering every five days during hot dry conditions.
  • Salvia combine well with rudbeckias and dahlias.


September is a good time to start harvesting salvia seed.

  • Collect seed now to sow from late February to early March in a 50:50 mix of seed compost and vermiculite.
  • Germinate indoors, which usually takes 5-12 days.
  • Pot up seedlings in 3 inch pots of multipurpose compost – fine grit can be added for species from California, the MIddle East, Turkey and South Africa.
  • The key to success is not to over-water.


Taking Tender Cuttings

  • Take tip cuttings from non-flowering shoots, and dip them into rooting gel.
  • Insert into small pots and cover with a freezer bag
  • Keep in a frost-free greenhouse.  They take about 3 weeks to root.