Plant of the Moment: Salvia Phyllis Fancy

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There are some plants which worm their way into my heart quite unexpectedly and I become completely obsessed with them.  Melianthus major is one but it is getting tough competition this year from Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’.

Salvias are a family I have toyed with over recent years but they haven’t really grabbed my attention.  I have a couple of hardy shrubby ones, the dark blue Salvia ‘Amistad’ and Salvia involucrata ‘Boutin’. I really like the latter although its hugh Barbie pink flowers on gangly rangy stems can be hard to accommodate in the border.  However, Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy is a far more elegant affair, a real lady of the border.

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Her elegant stems tower above the foliage with the flower stems gracefully bending downwards.  In the photograph above they are towering over the favoured Melianthus so you can see how much height they can bring to the border.  This plant is a two year old cutting and has really put on substantial growth this year. It is a taller form of Salvia ‘Waverly’, which is a leucantha hybrid.


The glaucous blue foliage adds a nice contrast to other plants in the border and the leaves are sufficiently large enough to have their own presence.

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In my opinion the flowers of Salvia Phyllis Fancy outstrip Salvia Armistad by a long way and I really can’t understand why it is not more popular. The combination of the lilac white flowers with deep lilac calyxes remains me of an elegant piece of 1920s costume jewellery.  The pale flowers show up in the border, twinkling in the sunshine unlike Armistad whose dark blue flowers in my garden create a dull dark spot in the border.

As with the other more exotic looking salvias, Salvia Phyllis Fancy is frost hardy so  here in the UK I will be taking measures to protect it over winter.  I think I will heavily mulch the larger of my two plants and lift the smaller one.  I have also taken cuttings which I hope are rooting well in the greenhouse.

I was lucky enough to acquire my original plant from my local HPS group where it had been introduced by Olive Mason, a real plants woman, but I know it is available from a number of nurseries including Ashwood Nursery near Birmingham.

Author: Helen Johnstone

I live in Malvern, Worcestershire and am a very keen gardener. I started the Patient Gardener Blog in January 2008 as a way of recording what was happening in my garden and connecting with other like-minded people. I started a second blog PatientGardener 365 January 2013 in order to try and post a photo a day to capture what is growing in my garden or places I have visited

19 thoughts on “Plant of the Moment: Salvia Phyllis Fancy”

  1. Yes, I do like that. I’ve taken cuttings from my ‘Black and Blue’ this year as last year’s plant didn’t make it through. But you’re right, unless the darker ones get really bushy they don’t show up as easily.

  2. I agree with you that this one is stunning. I think it is the form of the flower stem, and the two tone flowers, and the healthy textured leaves and and and …..I do hope to come across this, as I have just the spot for it in my garden.

    1. Hi Julieanne
      The spot is very sunny and free draining, its where I grow most of my bulbs. There is some late afternoon shade though

  3. Have you tried rooting salvia cuttings in water? I have had great success with this method this year and as a consequence have rather more salvias than I know what to do with! As if…..! Salvia Amistad is good in the shade where the indigo blue flowers really show up in the gloom.

    1. If you have one of Salvia Amistad, and are happy to send it my way…see from my blog if there is anything you would like from my garden, and maybe we could arrange a swap!

    2. Hi Christine
      I will have a go at rooting them in water, thanks. I am surprised you think that Amistad flowers show up in shade, they seem to disappear in my garden!!!

  4. Phyllis has certainly taken your fancy Helen and I can see why. The foliage looks more attractive than that of ‘Armistad’. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for those cuttings too 🙂

    1. Hi Anna
      I think I will follow Christine’s advice and try rotting some in water as well to double my chances.

    1. Hi Kate
      I have Armistad and I’m not that keen at all but that could be because I am quite perverse and the more people rave about something the less I like it!

  5. I have boths phyllis and amistad. Although phyllis is good, reliable and visible from a distance, it just doesnt flower as long as amistad. amistad goes frome june to december but phyllis only starts in august here (zone 9, uk) until about nov/december.
    Unfortunatly i find amistad to be a tender salvia, most plants i have of them dont get through the winter here.

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