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May Night Sage

Salvia x sylvestris 'Mainacht'

May Night Sage

Salvia x sylvestris 'Mainacht'

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How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me

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The May Night Sage forms a dense clump of stems up to 2 feet tall, with dark-green aromatic foliage on the lower half, and flowers of the darkest violet-blue on the top half. It is a perennial plant that dies back to the roots each fall, resprouting stronger than ever the next spring. It blooms throughout May and June, and often reblooms in cooler areas all the way into the fall. It’s vibrant flowers look wonderful in front of the gold or silver foliage of shrubs, or mixed with lighter-colored flowers. Grow it in rocky places too, on sunny slopes or the levels of terracing.

  • Blooms in May and June with deep, violet-blue flowers
  • Upright cluster of stems 2 feet tall when blooming
  • Loved by butterflies and hummingbirds
  • Grows well in hot and sunny parts of your garden
  • Attractive even when the flowers are over

Plant the May Night Sage in full sun, and it will enjoy a little afternoon shade in hot zones. Plant it in any well-drained soil, both acid or alkaline, and including dry and poor soils. The only maintenance needed is to cut it back to the ground in late fall. Removing spent flower heads will encourage reblooming, or they are attractive even when the flowers are gone, and can be left to minimize garden maintenance. Deer and rabbits leave it alone and it rarely suffers from any pests or diseases.

Plant Hardiness Zones 4-8
Mature Width 1-1.5
Mature Height 1.5-2
Soil Conditions Well-Drained Soil
Sunlight Full Sun to Partial Shade
Drought Tolerance Good Drought Tolerance
Zones 4-8

Dark colors in the garden are often dark purple-reds, but there are other sources of powerful dark tones that make lighter colors even brighter and clearer. Dark as the edge of a spring twilight, the May Night Sage throbs with the deepest blue-violet, glowing in those first strongly sunlit days of the season. Set against golden foliage it draws you into its blackness, and it glowers against silver leaves. The many bold stems of dark-blue flowers make it a feature throughout the rich days of spring, and early summer. Get ready to take great photos of brilliant butterflies feeding on it, or if the magical visit of a hummingbird. More practically, this tough perennial plant is perfect for the front and middle parts of your beds, adding a whole new dimension of form and color to shrubs. When you bring the right kinds of perennials into your garden you don’t add work, but you do add significant beauty, which is, after all, why we garden at all.

Growing the May Night Sage

Size and Appearance

The May Night Sage is a reliable perennial plant that grows back each year from the roots, forming first a mound of foliage and then quickly adding a cluster of many upright flower stems. It will reach an overall height of around 2 feet once it is established, and form a clump at least 18 inches across. The aromatic leaves are around 3 inches long, wedge-shaped ovals that are gray-green, with a rough, wrinkled upper surface and an underside covered in short, soft hairs. The leaves become smaller and more tightly attached as they rise up the stems, leaving a short bare section before the crowded clusters of flowers begin. If you look closely you will see that each flower sits in a stiff purple-black cup along the dark stem, out of which the two-lipped flower grows. The broad lower lip is a landing platform for insects, and the upper lip arches over in an ingenious mechanism for depositing the pollen on a bee’s back. The flowers are the darkest blue-violet, giving an intense and vibrant effect. Flowering relatively early, the first blooms open in May and continue throughout June, with the possibility of further stems through summer and into fall.

Using the May Night Sage in Your Garden

The May Night Sage is perfect for the front of larger beds, or the middle of smaller ones. It looks most effective planted in front of lighter colors, especially golds, lime-greens, grays and silvers. Plant it as well on the levels of terracing, on sunny slopes or among rocks and gravel in more informal settings.

Hardiness

With good resistance to cold, the May Night Sage is perfectly reliable in zone 4, and grows well in warmer zones as well. The flowering of this variety is very early in hot areas, which is great, but its continuity is limited – for longer-term blooming in hot zones we recommend the Caradonna Sage, with proven resistance to heat and humidity.

Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions

Grow the May Night Sage in full sun, with perhaps a touch of afternoon shade when planted in hot zones. It loves well-drained soil and thrives even in poor, sandy or gravel soils. Avoid wet ground, especially in cold regions. Both acid and alkaline soils are tolerated well, so you can grow this plant just about anywhere.

Maintenance and Pruning

Pests or diseases rarely bother the May Night Sage and both deer and rabbits usually leave it alone, disliking the smell of the leaves. Basic annual maintenance is to cut it down in late fall, once the leaves yellow, and remove the dead stems. It will be back fresh and new in spring. Removing spent flower spikes early helps to encourage reblooming, but the flowerless stems are not unsightly and can be left if you want to minimize your garden maintenance.

History and Origin of the May Night Sage

The name Salvia x sylvestris is a catch-all for the numerous hybrid sages grown in gardens. Usually hybrids between the woodland sage, Salvia nemorosa, native to central Europe, and its close relative, Salvia amplexicaulis, other species may also have been used – Salvia is a difficult group for botanists. The same plants may also be listed under the older name of Salvia x superba, which certainly describes them well. Karl Foerster, who died in 1970, was a world-leader in perennial breeding. His nursery in Potsdam, Germany was behind the Iron Curtain, but that didn’t stop him from working to develop plants which were tough, disease-resistant, and easy to grow, as well as beautiful. The hybrid sage he called ‘Mainacht’ was first offered at his nursery in 1956, and he left a legacy of many beautiful perennials still being grown today. In English-speaking countries it is simply called ‘May Night’.

Buying the May Night Sage at the Tree Center

It was only after the reunification of Germany that the May Night Sage became widely known, and only in 1997 was it named Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association, a professional body of growers and experts based in Raleigh, North Carolina. It’s a valuable classic that no garden should be without, so order now and make sure it is in yours.

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May Night Sage

Salvia x sylvestris 'Mainacht'