Sage is one of the most beloved herbs out there, and the recent hybrid Salvia amistad (SAL-vee-uh ah-mees-tahd) has quickly become one of the most sought-after sage hybrids.
The common name “friendship sage” is a direct translation of the scientific name.
It appears to be derived from Salvia coerulea.
Rolando Uria (University of Buenos Aries) discovered the plant type at a flower show in Argentina in 2005.
He sent clippings to a grower in the US in hopes of avoiding a patent, although an American company has since determined to do just that.
What sets this member of the mint (Lamiaceae) family apart is the number of butterflies and hummingbirds its deep purple flowers attract.
It is also considered to have a fuller growth habit than other guaranitica Salvia plants, allowing it to be grown both indoors and outdoors in gardens worldwide.
The combination of appearance and attraction values have earned it the Royal Horticultural Society’s prestigious Award of Garden Merit.
Salvia Amistad Care
Size & Growth
Friendship sage is a large herbaceous species, achieving 3′ to 5’ feet in height and a width of 4′ to 6’ feet.
It’s hearty enough to grow as an indoor annual when outside of its hardiness zones.
Growth is rapid, especially in the first year, and it is an avid bloomer when maintained.
Flowering and Fragrance
This deciduous sage’s blooms closely resemble blue anise sage outside of the flower color.
Amistad’s velvety dark purple flowers have a nearly black calyx (black calyces) on dark green bracts and remain from late spring until the first frost.
The exact bloom time varies depending upon the planting region, and indoor plants may retain their flowers for longer as a result.
Colder regions will bloom later than those in a more temperate zone.
Light & Temperature
Salvia amistad requires full sun but will survive in partial shade.
In hotter climates, it is best to ensure this tender perennial gets part shade in the afternoon to avoid sunburn.
It thrives in a wide range of hardiness zones, growing from USDA zone 8b to 11a.
It also boasts root hardiness in temperatures as low as 18° degrees Fahrenheit (-8° C).
The plant is known to overwinter in some indoor settings in zones too cold for outdoor propagation.
Watering and Feeding
Amistad requires regular watering in drier climates.
As a general rule for its water needs, the soil around it should be kept at a moderate amount of moisture throughout the growing season.
The sage should be protected by a layer of mulch and fed a slow-release fertilizer each spring.
Soil & Transplanting
Not overly picky, friendship sage enjoys any well-drained garden soil or similar soil type.
Add a bit of slow-release fertilizer added each spring to ensure healthy new growth.
It is also easily transplanted between pots or into a garden but will require watering beforehand.
Grooming and Maintenance
Gardeners should heavily prune friendship sage in early spring.
Removing faded flower spikes will encourage the plant to continue producing blooms.
How To Propagate Friendship Sage
Amistad Salvia may be propagated using either softwood or semi-ripe cuttings.
- For best results, these should be potted and allowed to take root when possible.
- Softwood cuttings are best planted in early spring, while semi-ripe ones should wait until early summer or late summer.
- Water the cuttings prior to transplanting.
- Begin by digging a hole 2 to 3 times larger than the pot.
- Backfill the hole and plant the cutting 1″ to 2″ inches above the soil level.
- Water the area deeply.
- Allowing the soil to settle and adding more as needed.
- Next, add 1″ to 2″ inches of mulch and finish with a balanced slow-release fertilizer.
Friendship Sage Pest or Disease Problems
Salvia amistad is a hardy plant, being tolerant of both drought and heat.
However, it may suffer burns when left in constant direct sunlight in naturally arid locations.
It is both rabbit and deer resistant.
However, it may fall victim to rosemary beetles and snails.
Due to its high attraction to pollinators, this plant may be a poor choice for individuals with bee allergies.
Suggested Salvia Amistad Uses
Friendship sage is a newer species and thus has yet to have its full potential explored.
The cut flowers make for an attractive gift idea.
Additionally, the ability to thrive in containers gives this sage great versatility as an indoor decorative plant.
Mass planting this sage creates an aromatic and attractive border.
It also works well in both cutting gardens and rock gardens.
Plants kept in outdoor containers create wonderful accents for any patio or deck.
Unfortunately, due to its relatively recent appearance in the United States, there is no firm comparison on the qualities of this sage versus other, more established species.
Thus, it is currently unknown whether or not this new hybrid may be used as a viable substitute for white sage in smudging rituals and incense or a decent seasoning alternative to common sage.