Monday, November 22, 2010

Southern River Sage - Salvia misella (Syn. S. riparia)

Southern river sage (Salvia misella) is a low-growing groundcover native to the southern half of Florida and in the Caribbean.  It is most common as an understory plant in semi-shaded locations in moist woodlands and it is not especially well adapted to sunnier locations or locations that frequently dry out.
Southern river sage is evergreen and creeps out across the ground from its main central stem.  Normally, it is no taller than 6-8 inches.  The deltoid leaves are opposite on the stem, deeply toothed and with noticeable veins.  This foliage makes an attractive ground cover for locations where grass is difficult.
Blooming can occur during most months; except periods of cold weather.  The tiny flowers occur at the ends of each stem.  They are a brilliant blue in color, but not easily seen from a distance.  Well-grown specimens, however, with numerous flowers make an attractive statement.
Southern river sage is not widely available from native plant nurseries associated with AFNN - the Association of Florida Native Nurseries, but it can be found with some diligence.  Use it in semi- to mostly shady locations where soils are not too droughty.  It can be used effectively with other such groundcovers like Cooley's waterwillow (Justicia cooleyi), wild ginger (Asarum arifolia), and violets (Viola spp.); as well as inland river oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) and witchgrasses (Dicanthelium spp.).  Plant individuals in small masses of at least 3-5 per clump, 12 inches apart.


  1. Salvia Misella is one of the few plants that grow well for me around large tree roots where few other plants can grow due to the lack of soil. Just plant them in the pockets of soil you can find and they will spread quickly if not allowed to dry out too much.

  2. I just bought a whole flat of this from Wilcox Nursery and will plant it in my shady back yard. I live in North Pinellas, so I do know that it might die back in the winter. I am hopeful that this is a new ground cover that I can use instead of Asiatic Jasmine.

  3. This species grows wild here in North Tampa. I've encountered it along the fence line in my back yard always in heavily shaded areas.

  4. Wow this is rather aggressive on my farm. Seems happy in partly shaded areas, especially in rich soils.

    1. Karen - it IS aggressive so its use should be carefully considered before planting. In my shady back yard, it works pretty well to create a ground cover. In other places, I weed it out. It is easily weeded from areas where it is not wanted, but it will try to move to places it was not planted in. This is a case of do the good qualities outweigh the bad? Use it with open eyes.

  5. It is also available at sod express nursery in longwood fl

  6. It is also available at sod express nursery in longwood fl


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