Salvia farinacea Cathedral™ Series ‘Blue Bicolor’ (Mealycup or Mealy Sage)

Salvia farinacea Cathedral™ ‘Blue Bicolor’ after I brought them home on 6-10-18, #457-8.

Mealycup or Mealy Sage

Salvia Cathedral™ ‘Blue Bicolor’

Salvia farinacea

SAL-vee-uh  far-ih-NAH-kee-uh

Synonyms of Salvia farinacea (8) (Updated on 1-2-23 from Plants of the World Online): Salvia amabilis Kunth & C.D.Bouché (1848), Salvia caesia Scheele (1849), Salvia earlei Wooton & Standl. (1913), Salvia farinacea var. heteranthera Brandegee (1911), Salvia farinacea var. latifolia Shinners (1953), Salvia linearis Sessé & Moc. (1892)(nom. illeg.), Salvia trichostyle Bisch. (1847), Salvia virgata Ortega (1797)(nom. illeg.)

Salvia farinacea Benth. is the accepted scientific name for this species of Salvia. It was named and described by George Bentham in Labiatarum Genera et Species in 1833.

The genus, Salvia L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.

As of 1-2-23 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 1,012 species in the Salvia genus. It is a member of the plant family Lamiaceae with 232 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.

I think there are seven cultivars in the Salvia Cathedral™ series but I have not figured out who holds the patent. Dave’s Garden only has information about the cultivar Cathedral™ ‘Sky Blue’ and says it was hybridized by Jones and registered or introduced in 2008.


Salvia farinacea Cathedral™ ‘Blue Bicolor’ in the south bed on 6-14-18, #459-52.

I picked up three Salvia farinacea Cathedral™ ‘Blue Bicolor’ from Lowe’s on June 10, 2018, and put them in the bed on the south side of the house. I really like Salvia and can always make room for a species or cultivar I don’t have. My first experience with Salvia farinacea was when I bought a packet of ‘Blue Bedder’ from the Dollar General store in Leland, Mississippi.

Salvia farinacea Cathedral™ ‘Blue Bicolor’ flowers on 6-14-18, #459-53.

The tag with the plants didn’t say what cultivar they were so I had to check online. There are seven cultivars in the series including ‘Lavender’, ‘White’, ‘Blue Bicolor’, ‘Deep Blue’, ‘Purple’, ‘Shining Seas’, and ‘Sky Blue’. I think, although not 100% sure, the three I bought are ‘Blue Bicolor’.

Salvia farinacea Cathedral ‘Blue Bicolor’ on 7-4-18, #469-31.

Family: Lamiaceae.
Origin: Species native to Mexico, New Mexico, and Texas.
Zones: USDA Zones 9a-11 (20-40° F).
Size: 12-18” or so tall.
Spacing: Plants should be spaced 12” or so apart.
Light: Sun to part shade
Soil: Average, well-drained, slightly damp
Water: Prefers regular watering

How “reliably” winter hardy is Salvia farinacea? That is a good question. When I had the cultivar ‘Blue Bedder’ in Mississippi, they returned the next spring but that was in zone 9. Salvia farinacea is considered perennial in USDA zones 7b-11, although there are reports of it returning as cold as 4b-5a. They are reliably self-sowing, so maybe in cooler zones, they come up from seed like my Salvia coccinea. Information online about the Cathedral™ Series, what little there is, says they are only hardy in USDA zones 9a-11.

Salvia farinacea ‘Cathedral Blue Bicolor’ on 7-29-18, #487-81.

Growing most Salvia species are quite easy. Most are fairly drought-tolerant once established, but they do appreciate regular watering. Salvia farinacea prefers fairly moist soil for them to perform their best. 

While some species of Salvia don’t really need deadheading, the species whose flowers are on “spikes” do need to be deadheaded for continual flowering. Otherwise, they will produce seeds and the only flowers you will have will be from new stems. Deadheading also keeps the plants looking tidy.

As I suspected, the Salvia farinacea ‘Cathedral Blue Bicolor’ didn’t return in 2019.

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. There is barely any information online about this cultivar or the series, so the links below are for the genus, species, maybe the series, or a different “color” in the series.


6 comments on “Salvia farinacea Cathedral™ Series ‘Blue Bicolor’ (Mealycup or Mealy Sage)

  1. dave sherron says:

    Hi: I live in Houston and have been very disappointed in A. farinacea varieties so far. They don’t bloom in summer but scream for water. Should “Cathedral deep blue” grow and bloom better? Thanks for your help! Dave in gardener’s hell

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Dave! I would think your Salvia farinacea ‘Cathedral Deep Blue’ should flower well in Texas. Some information suggests they need consistently moist soil, but also say they are fairly drought tolerant. As a perennial in your zone, they may not start to flower until June the following year. I am not sure how you bought your plants but assume you bought them as flowering plants from a garden center. Once the flowers fade or get close, you need to keep them deadheaded for continuous bloom. I know if I don’t keep some of the species I grow deadheaded they will stop blooming and will take a while for them to start again once I do it. Some Salvia species are much more drought tolerant than others and some need consistently moist soil. I think my Salvia farinacea do require more water than others. We live in a much different climate, but I did live in Mississippi for several years. I grew Salvia farinacea ‘Blue Bedder’ there and they did very well but needed deadheaded on occasion. Watering every few days in the heat of the summer was always a normal part of my routine. I hope this helps. OH, some Salvia species don’t flower well under yard lights because they need to be in a dark area at night. I have forgotten which species have this issue and I couldn’t find anything online about it when I just checked. I have to do some further research about it. Thanks for your comment and NEVER give up.


      • dave says:

        Thanks so much for your thorough and quick replies! The plants will arrive in active growth (I don’t trust bare roots) from New Garden Plants in Michigan. They have great prices, and Pete the proprietor is really nice. Will they fail to bloom in their first year even though they’re already growing? I don’t know where you live, but check out S. barrelieri at Annie’s Annuals and Perennials in California. It’s incredible, and they have it classified among their hot and humid plants. I can’t resist experimenting.

        What’s your prediction about Nepeta “Cat’s pajamas in Houston? A local nurseryman commented that here they never look like the gorgeous blooming mounds in the pictures. I’ll be pissed.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ummm… Your plants from New Garden should flower. They were likely bought as plants (vegetably propagated) and not grown from seed in the first place. The Nepeta ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ was patented by Walter’s Gardens. It is a cross between Nepeta x faassenii ‘Purrsian Blue’ (female/seed parent) and an unnamed selection of Nepeta phylloclamys (male parent). Nepeta ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ were selected for compact habit and early blooming. Nepeta x faasenii is a hybrid itself and the male parent is a native of Turkey. I like the way they are supposed to flower on the stems from the ground up and not just on top. If they are like my Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’, which is also an x faassenii hybrid, they will mound mainly their first season then have a tendency to sprawl. You can check out my page for it but I haven’t updated with the photos from 2019. I need to get on that, huh? The ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ sounds very interesting so maybe I can find one or two from Lowe’s this spring. It sounds like it is well worth a shot. They are supposed to heat and drought tolerant so they should be OK in the Houston area.

          As far as what your local nurseryman said… He is right. Buying plants based on what the photos look like is similar to buying fast food. The photos look delicious but what you get doesn’t necessarily look like the photo. When it comes to gardening, there are many ups and downs and variables. Some we can control with watering, fertilizer, light, pruning, etc. Other things, like the weather, we can’t control. When plants are in full flower, rain (even watering by hand) and wind can play hell with them. If you water your flowering plants, such as the Catmint, try watering under the plant and not from the top. This will help keep them more upright. You can mist them somewhat to keep their leaves clean.

          I will check out the S. barrelieri from Annies.That is a great website that always makes me drool! Have you checked out Flowers by the Sea? They specialize in Salvia.

          I am glad you enjoy experimenting and I am looking forward to hearing about your results. Feel free to ask any questions you want. I am always happy to help.


          • says:

            Hi:  It’s wonderful to have a plant buddy on-line who knows something.  May I address you by your name?  Also, when I tried to reply directly to your latest message tonight, i got a message saying that your site would expire very soon. …now back to plants..    What’s the deal with the royal blue and purple Hibiscus that I see on-line?  They’re only available as seeds, and the vendor sites are confusing.  I never order. 

            I’d like to hear your advice on making Bougainvillea re-bloom.  I’ve tried a million things.  That’s all for now.  Dave in Houston


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