Salvias, also known as sages, bloom abundantly and look great in almost every landscape. These showy plants are easy to grow. Salvias are also incredibly versatile: healers use salvias to help ailing patients, cooks use sages to make food more delicious, and gardeners and decorators use these gorgeous flowers to improve the appearance of an indoor or outdoor location. Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know about Saliva flower meaning and symbolism, their rich history origin, popular types, and uses, plus a few essential tips for gifting and caring for fresh-cut salvia flowers at home.
- Salvia Flower Meaning & Symbolism – the Essentials
- About Salvia Flowers
- Uses and Benefits of Salvia Flowers
- Salvia Flower Meaning & Symbolism
- The Cultural Significance and Symbolism of Salvia Flowers
- Suitable Gifting Occasions for Salvia Flowers
- How to Care for Fresh Cut Salvia Flowers at Home
- Salvia Flower FAQ
- Salvia Flower Growing Guides:
Salvia Flower Meaning & Symbolism – the Essentials
In the language of flowers, Salvia holds the symbolic meaning of longevity, wisdom, esteem, and good health. Spiritual leaders have used salvia flowers in their religious rites and divination for centuries as a symbol of knowledge and connection to the divine source.
About Salvia Flowers
The Salvia Flower – Family, Genus, and Taxonomy
Botanical Characteristics, Colors, Fragrances
Salvia bears two-lipped lavender-blue flowers, which grow up to an inch long. The flowers appear in short upright spikes along a single stalk.
The flowers of the salvia plant bloom late in the spring with cultivars producing a wide variety of colors spanning purple, pink, blue, red, and white shades most commonly.
The plant has wrinkled gray-green leaves that measure up to 4” in length. Cooks use fresh or dried salvia leaves as a seasoning. The flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies.
Popular Salvia Types, Species, and Cultivars
Salvia is considered the largest genus of plants in the sage family counting well over 1000 species of annuals, perennials, and shrubs. Many of the cultivars are compact, growing 8-15” tall.
Some of the most popular salvia types include:
- Scarlet Sage (Salvia spendens)
- Mealycup Sage (Salvia farinacea)
- Texas Sage (Salvia coccinea)
- Woodland Sage (Salvia nemerosa)
- Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii)
- Wood Sage (Salvia x sylvestris)
- Common Sage (Salvia officinalis)
- Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)
- Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)
- Diviner’s Sage (Salvia divinorum)
Derived from the Latin word salus, salvia means “healthy.” In Old French, spoken in Northern France from the 8th to 14th century, sage means “wise, knowledgeable, learned; shrewd, skillful.”
What regions are Salvia flowers native to?
Distributed throughout the Old World and the Americas, salvia has three distinct regions of diversity: with three distinct regions of diversity: Central America and South America, Central Asia and the Mediterranean, and Eastern Asia.
When are Salvia flowers in season?
Salvia flowers bloom in late spring to early summer; cutting the faded blooms will cause the plant to flower again through fall.
Uses and Benefits of Salvia Flowers
Salvia flowers are quite versatile. Gardeners prize salvias for their colorful flowers; bees, butterflies, and other pollinators are also fond of salvia blossoms.
Around the world, cooks use salvia as a seasoning in a variety of dishes and teas. Salvia is non-toxic to cats and dogs.
Medicinal Benefits of Salvia Flowers
Healers often administer salvia tea or encourage patients to chew salvia as folk medicine to treat seizure, diarrhea, ulcers, gout, inflammation, rheumatism, dizziness, tremor, paralysis, and high blood sugar. Traditional medicine practitioners administer salvia to treat heartburn and bloating, excessive perspiration, age-related cognitive disorders, and inflammations in the skin and throat.
Research suggests salvia may have anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, pain-blocking, cholesterol-lowering, and blood sugar-lowering effects.
Salvia Flowers and Spirituality
Salvia has spiritual uses as well. One variety of salvia, Salvia divinorum, has highly hallucinogenic properties that make the plant useful for triggering visions during religious rituals.
Once reserved for purification and religious ceremonies, smudging with salvia is regaining popularity. The ancient tribal tradition involves burning dried salvia plants to create harmony and spiritual peace. Many people now make salvia smudge sticks to remove negative energy from a space.
Salvia Flower Meaning & Symbolism
Salvias come in a variety of colors, and many of these colors carry special meaning and symbolism. Some meanings are specific to salvias, while others are general to the language of flowers. These colors and their meanings include:
Red Salvia Flower Meaning
The red blooming Salvia flower is traditionally associated with love and romance and is symbolic of “Forever mine” gestures.
Purple Salvia Flower Meaning
Purple is a very regal color, synonymous with royalty, success, and good standing.
Pink Salvia Flower Meaning
The pink petals of a flower Salvia plant in the language of flowers are symbolic of love, femininity, gentleness
Blue Salvia Flower Meaning – “Thinking of you”
The blue flowers of a Salvia are often aligned with friendship and family and symbolic of thoughtful gestures such as sentiments of “missing you” or “thinking of you”.
The Cultural Significance and Symbolism of Salvia Flowers
Salvia and Shamanism practices
The Shamans of the Mazatec Indians of Oaxaca have used Salvia divinorum in their religious rites and divination for centuries. The species’ name, divinorum, means “of the seer,” and refers to its use for seeking knowledge of the future or from a divine source.
Salvia Flowers in Greek Mythology
Ancient Greeks considered Salvia melissodora a sacred herb, and dedicated it to Zeus. The epithet “melissodora” comes from “Melissa” (honeybee) and “odora” (fragrance). Melissa is also the name of a mythological Cretan nymph that collected honey.
Salvia Flowers in Ancient Greece
The Greek variety Salvia Fruticosa produces purplish flowers from early May to June. The flowers are ready for collection and harvest during June and July. Ancient Greeks admired the beauty, medicinal value, and culinary use of salvia, along with its sweet nectar and pollen. In fact, a Minoan fresco created about 1400 BCE at Knossos on the island of Crete depicts salvia.
Salvia Flowers in Ancient Rome
The ancient Romans revered salvia so deeply that they performed a special ceremony before picking the plant; they even used a special knife, as the iron in their traditional knives would interact with the salvia.
Salvia in art and literature
Salvia divinorum inspires “visionary art” of all genres. Writers have created visual arts, for example, and poetry and prose after taking this mind-altering salvia. Graphic artists have even created art depicting the trichomes, or fine hairs, on the surface of a salvia leaf.
Suitable Gifting Occasions for Salvia Flowers
Salvias make thoughtful gifts for a variety of occasions. Mom will appreciate the colorful flowers in a pot or a vase as a Mother’s Day gift, for example, and a sweetheart will love a bouquet on Valentine’s Day.
Be sure to give a color that says “forever mine,” royalty and success, “thinking of you,” and love, femininity, and gentleness. A potted salvia is perfect in the spring.
How to Care for Fresh Cut Salvia Flowers at Home
A vase of salvias brightens any room. For best results, use a sharp knife, clippers, or scissors to cut flowers and foliage about an inch from the bottom of the main stem. Slice the stem at a 45-degree angle to expose a larger uptake area for water. Remove lower foliage so it is above the waterline.
Put the cut salvias in lukewarm water, at a temperature of 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Add a preservative to increase the longevity of the salvias. Replenish the water as needed to maintain the water level. Keep flowers away from direct sunlight, drafts, and ripening fruit, which emits fumes that can wilt salvias. Discard wilted blooms.
For more, see our essential guide to fresh cut flower care at home.
Salvias are one of the most common, versatile, and beautiful plants in the world. These unique flowers have held a special place in gardens, kitchens, medicine cabinets, and religious ceremonies throughout the centuries. Even today, scientists, artists, cooks and diners, gardeners, and healers prize salvias.
Salvia Flower FAQ
Will salvias come back every year?
Most salvias are perennials, so they come back every year. However, gardeners in colder climates grow salvias as annuals.
Do salvia flowers bloom all summer?
Some varieties bloom during a limited time, while others may bloom all spring and summer – with a little help. The flowers of the Greek variety Salvia Fruticosa bloom from early May to June, for example. Other varieties may bloom all summer if caretakers remove the dead blooms, a process known as deadheading.
Are Salvias considered hardy?
Certain varieties of salvias are hardier than are others, depending largely on where the variety originated. Salvias originating from high mountainous areas are generally hardier than are those from lower elevations. Salvia nemorosa ‘Amethyst’ , Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’, Salvia nemorosa ‘Ostfriesland’ and Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain’ are among the hardiest.
Do salvias like sun or shade?
All salvias love the sun. A few varieties, particularly those with light-colored flowers, will tolerate partial shade.
Salvia Flower Growing Guides:
For more essential step-by-step guides to growing and caring for Salvia plants at home, please see our in-depth features on Salvia coccinea (Texas Sage), Salvia greggii (Autumn sage), Salvia splendens (Scarlet Sage), and Salvia nemorosa (Woodland sage).
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.
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