Pronounciation: SAL-vee-a clev-LAN-dee-i
Landscape Use: Great for informal mixed flower borders and gardens, floral accent, mass color, border background, sensory gardens, container plant.
Form & Character: Delicate to sprawling and rangy, not restrained.
Growth Habit: Short-lived perennial, mostly herbaceous, that is often treated as an annual in Phoenix landscapes. Moderate growth rate sprawling to 4 feet with near equal spread. Most biologically active during winter and spring.
Foliage/Texture: Strongly aromatic leaves, opposite, glaucous and pubescent, ovate to lanceolate to 3 inches long on slender stems; medium fine texture.
Flowers & Fruits: Terminal light blue flowers to 1 inch diameter, borne on elongated spikes up to 1 foot long; fruit an inconspicuous paper capsule that might reseed.
Seasonal Color: Freely flowering during the late winter and spring
Temperature: Tolerant of Phoenix cold, but heat tolerant to 'only' 115oF. During the highest heat of summer in Phoenix California blue sage will suffer heat stress and roast like Macedonians like to roast chestnuts.
Light: Full sun to partial shade, especially shade from western summer sun in Phoenix.
Soil: Requires a well-drained soil and prefers an organic surface mulch.
Watering: Somewhat temperamental in Phoenix landscapes because of the mid summer desert heat. Apply regular water throughout the year to maintain luster and a dense canopy in Phoenix when culturing as a perennial. Summer drought results in a loss of foliage making the plant look sparse. In its native California range, California blue sage prefers dry soil during summer. However, if one cultures it dry during the summers such as they are in the scorching desert climate of Phoenix, this lovely perennial will die.
Pruning: Head back lightly in late fall or early winter if grown as perennial.
Disease and pests: Nematodes, root rot, spittlebug on succulent stems especially if air circulation around plants is poor
Additional comments: California blue sage is somewhat difficult to grow in the lower desert during the summer because the intense heat tends to toast it as much as I like to toast sourdough English muffins for breakfast each morning. In the right garden microclimate however, this is a nice Mediterranean coastal chaparral shrub for cool season mixed borders in Phoenix where a strong aromatic presence is wanted. Many cultivars are available.