The Garden Buzz: Adding Bog Sage to the Wish List

Reader Contribution by Rhonda Fleming Hayes
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You can check out Rhonda Hayes at her blog

Google “Bog Sage” and the search engine will insist that you are looking for information on comedian Bob Saget.

Perhaps that’s the reason I’ve never encountered this herb before–it has a branding problem. ‘Bog’ sage doesn’t quite have a poetic ring to its name. Search it further and find that the Latin label is Salvia uliginosa, which at first glance appears to say Salvia ugly-something.

Wandering around the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum the other day, I followed a flock of goldfinches from plant to plant down a back walkway. They were hopping from echinacea to echinacea chattering and chirping, each time just out of range from my camera lens, when I came upon a beautiful scene.

Photo by Rhonda Hayes

Clouds of Brazilian verbena and Russian sage (sounds like a United Nations of flowers) blooming against the low autumn sunlight created a haze of sparkling azure and lavender. Then I detected another shade, a true sky blue. I quickly sought out the label in hopes of identifying the gorgeous blue spires.

Bog sage. Kind of like finding a lovely, tall girl named Maxine Ficklebaum. But I wasn’t fazed; thinking of all the damp spots or any spots in my garden that could be beautified with this big blue flower. I pulled out my phone and started searching. Hardy to Zone 7, maybe 6. Drats.

More reading tells me it is a fast growing sage that blooms in late summer to fall, making it an annual for me but one worth gambling on, even if I suspect it will taunt me like pineapple sage, usually blooming days before the first frost in Minnesota.

I see that the Arboretum has it planted in a bit of a microclimate; between a building and a sheltered hillside with lots of reflective heat from the walkway pavers. That’s a good strategy I can adopt for quicker bloom.

Although it is an obvious candidate for moist to wet soils, info says it will tolerate drier ones. Best in full sun, but tolerant of a little shade. A magnet for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Yep, it’s going in my courtyard next year!

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