Friday, January 9, 2015

Flower Friday: Hardy lyreleaf sage makes a handsome groundcover.

Lyreleaf sage in bloom at Spring Hammock Preserve.
Photo by Lisa Roberts.
Lyreleaf sage (Salvia lyrata)

Lyreleaf sage is an attractive perennial that produces leafless spikes of lavender to bluish, tubular flowers. Like other the mint family members, its flowers are two-lipped and its stem is square. The leaves, which appear as basal rosettes, are lyre-shaped (hence the common name), with irregular margins and purplish-red to brownish patches along their midribs. This distinct marking makes the plant easy to identify, even when it is not flowering (see photo below).

Lyreleaf sage occurs naturally along woodland edges, in open areas and in disturbed sites. It typically flowers in late winter through late spring. Bees are its predominant pollinator, but it also attracts butterflies and  hummingbirds.

Family: Lamiaceae (Mint family)
Hardiness: North, Central and South Florida (Zones 7-10A)
Salvia lyrata seedling showing basal rosette and colored midrib.
Photo by Stacey Matrazzo.
: Moist to dry, well-drained soils
Exposure: Partial shade to nearly full sun
Growth habit: 1–2 feet tall; rosettes can have a spread of up to 1 foot
Garden tips: Lyreleaf sage is highly adaptable to a variety of conditions and can tolerate both drought and flooding. It does well along roadsides and trail edges. In a landscape, it can be planted with grasses and other groundcovers, as it responds well to mowing. It is easily propagated by root division and seed; plants grown from seed can reach the flowering stage in only a few months. Lyreleaf sage is a prolific self-seeder and can spread quickly, but can be easily managed in a landscape by deadheading and removing seedlings.

For more information on this and other Salvias, check out our publication, "Planting and Care of Salvias in Landscapes." 

Lyreleaf sage is often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.

To see where lyreleaf sage  occurs naturally, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3524.

A field of lyreleaf sage. Photo by Jeff Norcini.

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