Salvia, Balkan Clary, Ornamental Sage, Perennial Meadow Salvia, Violet Sage 'Mainacht'

Salvia nemorosa

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Salvia (SAL-vee-uh) (Info)
Species: nemorosa (nem-or-OH-suh) (Info)
Cultivar: Mainacht
Additional cultivar information:(aka May Night)
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12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


15-18 in. (38-45 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Blooms repeatedly



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From softwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Vincent, Alabama

Chandler, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Pottsville, Arkansas

Knights Landing, California

Redwood City, California

Sacramento, California

Santa Ana, California

Sonora, California

Avon, Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Denver, Colorado

Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut

Laurel, Delaware

Brooksville, Florida

Deltona, Florida

Pensacola, Florida

Atlanta, Georgia

Braselton, Georgia

Lawrenceville, Georgia

Marietta, Georgia

Chicago, Illinois(2 reports)

Mount Prospect, Illinois

Spring Grove, Illinois

Streator, Illinois

Washington, Illinois

Greenville, Indiana

Tipton, Indiana

Council Bluffs, Iowa

Fort Dodge, Iowa

Inwood, Iowa

Urbandale, Iowa

Clearwater, Kansas

Hazard, Kentucky

Hebron, Kentucky

Salvisa, Kentucky

Lorette, Manitoba

Crofton, Maryland

Cumberland, Maryland

Silver Spring, Maryland

Pembroke, Massachusetts

Quincy, Massachusetts

Saugus, Massachusetts

Townsend, Massachusetts

Bay City, Michigan

Cassopolis, Michigan

Dearborn Heights, Michigan

Fountain, Michigan

Pinconning, Michigan

Sterling Heights, Michigan

Lake Park, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Elsberry, Missouri

Missoula, Montana

Polson, Montana

Omaha, Nebraska

Hollis, New Hampshire

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Roswell, New Mexico

Binghamton, New York

Scottsville, New York

Southold, New York

Wappingers Falls, New York

Yorktown Heights, New York

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Belfield, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota

Bucyrus, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio

Dayton, Ohio

Geneva, Ohio

Lakewood, Ohio

Ravenna, Ohio

Springfield, Ohio

Zanesville, Ohio

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Shawnee, Oklahoma

Albany, Oregon

Bend, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Salem, Oregon

Tillamook, Oregon

Lansdowne, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Reading, Pennsylvania

Bluffton, South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina(2 reports)

Florence, South Carolina

Aberdeen, South Dakota

Bolivar, Tennessee

Clarksville, Tennessee

Gainesboro, Tennessee

Knoxville, Tennessee

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Burleson, Texas

Colleyville, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas(3 reports)

Garland, Texas(2 reports)

Hereford, Texas

Lewisville, Texas

Portland, Texas

San Angelo, Texas

Sugar Land, Texas

Weatherford, Texas

Willis, Texas

Wylie, Texas

Alexandria, Virginia

Centreville, Virginia

Fairfax, Virginia

Newport News, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia(2 reports)

Stephens City, Virginia

Sterling, Virginia

Ames Lake, Washington

Kalama, Washington

Kent, Washington

Olympia, Washington

Redmond, Washington

Tacoma, Washington

Union Hill-Novelty Hill, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

Butte Des Morts, Wisconsin

Muscoda, Wisconsin

Watertown, Wisconsin

Casper, Wyoming

Pavillion, Wyoming

Riverton, Wyoming

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 2, 2019, BostonPlanted from Boston, MA (Zone 5b) wrote:

It's so hardy, you can easily buy a half dead $3.00 Home Depot may night salvia and it will recover in a couple weeks as if nothing happened. I have so many of these everywhere. The bees go crazy for these. Absolute party of pollinators. I get most compliments on maynights bordering roses. This should be a staple of every perennial garden. Slice off spent blooms and will bloom again. Long bloom time. Does not need much supplemental watering.


On Jun 4, 2019, mkinkaid from Clearwater, KS (Zone 6b) wrote:

I have had 'Mainacht' growing in my partially sunny zone 6b garden for four years now, and it's a tireless performer. It blooms from fairly early spring until frost, and is adored by bees, hummingbirds and butterflies.

It does tend to get tatty and lanky after the first flush of blooms, especially if it isn't in a full sun location. I would strongly suggest deadheading it or shearing it back halfway around the first of June. Otherwise, it will flop open and look pretty unsightly. It will continue to bloom, though!

The plant itself produces a powerful tomcat urine spray odor when the leaves are brushed, the plant is gorgeous but it really does stink.


On Jun 25, 2018, glfbama from Albany, OR wrote:

This plant has beautiful vibrant purple blooms. However, It will not reliably overwinter in Zone 8 (PNW, mid-Willamette Valley). I now have it in a pot that I take in just before the first frost, and let it over-winter in an unheated garage. The plant blooms once in late summer. I haven't noticed it attracting hummingbirds, as I have several other plants the hummers love.


On Dec 20, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A beautiful plant in spring and early summer, especially for the showy, deep violet flowers. Reblooms multiple times here (Boston Z6a). The first round of blooms is showy, but the spent spikes grow unsightly as they accumulate, and I get tired of the considerable work (both tedious and time-consuming) involved in repeatedly cutting off the finished spikes. Maybe I'll try cutting them to the ground after the first round.

Generally doesn't get much over 18" tall here, the shortest cultivar I've tried. This is an advantage, as S. x sylvestris tends to sprawl if it gets much taller. The old foliage often looks tired/dilapidated in late summer/fall. Needs cool nights to perform well--Doesn't like the hot summers south of Z7 in the southeastern US.

Best divided in e... read more


On May 4, 2012, OldPerfessor from Hazard, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

*Update* May Night Salvia does very well here in SE KY in Zone 6B, however it seems susceptible to slugs which eat holes in its leaves. Some beer in a bowl will drown the blighters. Only other drawback (and it may not be one to you) is the strong fragrance of the leaves, this being a member of the sage family.


On Apr 11, 2012, XemaSab from Redding, CA wrote:

I have several of them and they're pretty, but they never get bigger than about 1x1 and most of them have never flowered or only flower lightly. It's just not an exciting plant in my yard.


On Jan 4, 2011, manda314 from Wylie, TX wrote:

Bought this in April from Home Depot. Plopped it down into heavy clay soil with only a bit of expanded shale mixed into the backfill. Struggled along until the summer heat when it disappeared. Still kept the area watered about once a week. Come fall in September it shot up a decent amount of purple spikes. Never stopped blooming. Right now in January it still has two spikes up but barely any green. I do hope it grows this spring.


On Aug 27, 2010, kentstar from Ravenna, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

Planted 3 in my rose bed this past fall and they've gotten huge! They bloom all season here from spring till fall. The yellow jackets love this plant!
Looks great with my Westerland climbing rose and against the hot pink blooms of my William Baffin rose.
They are getting so tall that they are starting to flop a bit. That would be my only drawback. But, I think next season I will cut back some after the initial blooming and see if this helps.
Great plant and a must for every garden!


On Aug 11, 2010, Susini from Lake Park, MN wrote:

I have about five of these plants on my property. In the rock garden, northern exposure, it's huge, just short of 4 feet across. It also reblooms all summer long without deadheading. In the southern exp. garden, full sun, they're half that size and absolutely require deadheading. The flower stalks are stinky after bloom too - think I've heard them described as cat urine. That's pretty much dead on.


On Jun 2, 2010, gardeningfun from Harpersfield, OH (Zone 5a) wrote:

My favorite Salvia! I bought 5 of them from Lowe's last fall for $2 each and they were huge then. They had lost their bloom when bought, so I wasn't sure what they would look like. They are gorgeous and I have honey bees all over them. The hummingbirds love them the most in all of my gardens. They are a hit with my whole family and my husband wants me to get more this fall. They are all the same and all May Night. I also bought 5 from Walmart for $1 and they were labled Meadow Sage and i was told they were May Night. However, 3 of them are Cardonna and 2 of them are some very short compact Mini-May Night. I have no idea what their name is. I am going to separate them this fall, buy more May Night at Lowe's and put them here. I have Cardonna already growing up in the back bed. T... read more


On May 4, 2010, Gardmawm from Alexandria, VA wrote:

Two were stuck in pots last summer, successfully overwintered despite our 3 blizzards, and are blooming their heads off. There is even one plant that is coming up through the bricks, also happily blooming away.


On Sep 21, 2007, yotedog from Raleigh, NC wrote:

This plant is a strong positive in spring, when it is beautiful, loaded with blooms and great for attracting bees and butterflies. It earns a neutral in my climate (hot and humid) because it requires constant deadheading to extend the initial flush of blooms, and because it tends to die back extensively in the heat of summer. That said, its healthy, easy to grow and looks wonderful in spring and (less so) early summer.


On Jul 8, 2007, kimmy222 from Reading, PA wrote:

This cultivar has gorgeous, long spiky blooms in late spring. They need to be deadheaded to look neat and to continue blooming. The only drawback of this plant is the frequent need to be deadheaded. On the plus side, they bloom from late spring to fall here and butterflies are all over it. They seem to prefer it to butterfly bushes. Overall, it is a great cultivar.


On Jun 1, 2007, zville123 from Zanesville, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

I bought 6 plants at the end of last season at WalMart. Planted them and hoped for the best. This year, all are up and healthy. Only thing is, I definitely have 2 different types of salvia, even though they all were tagged 'May Night.' Four of the plants have dark stems and a neater appearance. Two plants have green stems and are more floppy. I'm not sure which are the real 'May Nights' but the dark stems are staying in the front flower beds and the green stems are getting moved elsewhere. All are blooming abundantly.


On May 26, 2007, Marilynbeth from Hebron, KY wrote:

Love it! Love the color and growing it in the garden!


On Feb 28, 2007, girlndocs from Tacoma, WA wrote:

Bought a 4" pot on impulse at Home Despot last year, after reading raves about it on another gardening forum. I was pretty resigned to not seeing much out of it that year as it was so small, but it proceeded to bloom and bloom all summer! Each flush of bloom had another spike or two of flowers and by fall it was noticeably larger.

Definitely a keeper -- I put it in a new bed where the drainage might not be so great, so I hope it made it though the winter.


On Jul 4, 2006, Idiopath from Austin, TX wrote:

I bought two very small plants at Home Depot in mid April of this year, and by late May they had grown well over a foot (in both height and spread) and were blooming. They've been blooming for six weeks now, and still have more buds. The foliage is attractive, and the flowers are gorgeous, as well as attractive to bees and butterflies.


On Jun 20, 2006, lottathyme from Scottsville, NY wrote:

A winner in my book. After having several plants for about 10 years, I have added more. The original three have not only survived but thrived in what was terrible clay soil. (Since amended, we'll see how the new ones like that.) I have never had "volunteers" but maybe because I usually deadhead in order to keep the plant blooming. The first blooming is the most impressive, but it will keep on going in a looser fashion literally ALL SUMMER if deadheaded. Looks stunning with yellow leaved or flowered plants. I have it next to ladysmantle, a yellow-leaved grass, and "Gold Nugget" barberry. Great!


On Jan 18, 2006, Suze_ from (Zone 7b) wrote:

One of my favorite salvias. In my area, the most spectacular blooming occurs late Feb - late May, but the plants will continue to put out further flushes of bloom until frost. It helps to deadhead -- I usually just use the electric hedge clippers to make quick work of it.


On Jan 1, 2005, missmuffit from Des Moines, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Adore this plant and so do the bees!
This plant is so beautiful when it blooms but can be annoying when it self seeds. It's the quiet problem that no one talks about - the propensity of this plant to self sow where it's happy. And it seems to be quite happy in my Zone 5A amended clay soil.

As the area where I have it sited is starting to become a partial shaded area, May Night still blooms beautifully but it also is a 'leaner'. Likes to flop a little and lean on it's neighbors.

It does not come true from seed. Offspring are various shades of purple.


On Oct 13, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant has gorgeous purple stems loaded with violet-purple flowers that bloom from June to October. With its blue-gray, lance-shaped aromatic foliage, it makes an attractive accent all summer long. It has a plant height of 18 and a spread of 18-24 and stays in excellent compact form.

Selected Perennial Plant of the year in 1997.

Salvia May Night should be planted in full sun in a moist well-drained area.


On Aug 28, 2004, kooger from Oostburg, WI (Zone 5b) wrote:

Grows well in z4. Bumble bees love it!


On Jul 2, 2004, flower_power from Streator, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

I am very pleased with this plant that I added to my yard this year. It gets full sun and has been in constant bloom since planting and has filled out beautifully!


On Aug 25, 2003, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

I've been growing this for about 3 yrs. and it was beautiful until this yr. We have had record rains and it ruined my plants. They turned black and stopped blooming. Icut them back but not much help. I will prune heavy this fall and hope for the best next yr.

Update Mar 2007: I still have this salvia. It has never grown much taller or fuller and has never looked as good as it once did. Apparently it hates where its located. But since it is still alive, I'm letting it stay where it is. I need the color there.


On Aug 23, 2003, broots from Cochrane, ON (Zone 2b) wrote:

I grow this as a perennial in zone 2b and it does well.


On Jun 10, 2003, ls_freak wrote:

Fast-growing and beautiful. TONS of violet-purple, mildly-scented flower spikes that attract bees & butterflies. Easily divided, even when in flower, just be sure to keep well-watered.

Grows VERY fast from softwood cuttings (as in flowering and almost full size second year). After rooting, cuttings die down to ground and resprout several days to weeks later.


On May 3, 2002, loisbeth wrote:

May Night was the 1997 Perennial Plant Association " Plant of the Year". Large rosettes of dark green leaves continue to send up tall spikes of flowers. Must keep deadheaded for continued bloom.

Easy to care for and maintain. A real winner.