(Chiapas Golden Fuchsia) Cool, moist and partially shady -- those are the conditions that this tall, rare shrub loves. Once native to the mountain cloud forests of Mexico's southernmost state, Chiapas, Golden Fuchsia in 1986 became extinct in the wild and now is primarily grown by botanical gardens.
Flowers by the Sea is one of the few commercial sources for this plant.
The glowing, yellow-to-orange trumpet flowers sometimes grow more than 2 inches long. They dangle in clusters from long, wiry, burgundy peduncles -- the stemlets that attach the flower clusters to the shrub's branches. The clusters look a bit like modern, chandelier-style lights. As the shape of the flowers indicates, this is a hummingbird favorite.
In the April-June 2000 issue of Pacific Horticulture, Huntington Gardens Curator Kathy Musial says that botanist Dr. Dennis Breedlove in 1972 discovered what would be identified more than a decade later as member of the shrub and tree genus Deppea. Breedlove found his mystery plant in a canyon on the south slope of Cerro Mozotal, a mountain in southern Chiapas.
Musial notes that Breedlove never found the plant elsewhere in the wild. Luckily, he and Brad Bartholomew were able to collect seed in 1981, because the stand of Golden Fuchsia disappeared within five years when the land was cleared for farming.
Although the foggy summers of San Francisco's climate appeal to Golden Fuchsia, a partially shady environment helps it to thrive at Southern California's Huntington, which aided the original distribution of the plant. Our plants are from a variety at San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum.
Golden Fuchsia isn't a member of the Fuchsia genus, which is a member of the evening primrose family (Onagraceae). Deppea species are members of the coffee family (Rubiaceae). Give it rich, well-drained soil and plenty of water.
This is a challenging plant to cultivate, but it is beautiful and in danger of totally disappearing. Helping it to survive is rewarding.
(Gold Angel Japanese Shrub Mint) Partial shade settings or locations with morning sun and afternoon shade are best for this fragrant mint bush that glows in dappled sunlight. It is a Japanese woodland native well suited to areas with chilly winters.
Honeybees love this perennial's fall-blooming flowers. Leucosceptrum means "white scepter." Depending on your point of view and sense of whimsy, the plant's plumes of pale white-to-yellow blossoms look like royal scepters held erect or common bottlebrushes bursting from golden foliage.
Although this member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) loves moisture, it does well with supplemental watering based on local conditions. Give it rich, well-drained soil.
Golden Angel is just right for woodland gardens or shady patio-container plantings. It also looks pretty as a border along a shady pathway. Its finely veined and serrated leaves light up the shade.
(Dark Flowered Bolivian Sage) Here is a water-loving beauty with dusky blue flowers -- a native of the moist Yungas piedmont forests of Northwestern Argentina and Bolivia. Salvia atrocyanea is well adapted to both full sun and partial shade.
Although a tall sage, the branches of this perennial are so heavy with blossoms and large bracts that they droop gracefully. The dramatic bracts, which protect the S. guaranitica-type blossoms, are mid-green tinged with bluish purple. The mid-to-dark green leaves are oval shaped with long, fine tips and serrated edges.
The Wisconsin-based website Hummingbird Gardening in the Upper Midwest notes that although S. atrocyanea isn't cold-hardy, the website owners have overwintered it successfully in a cool sunroom. We love to hear about these kinds of experiments.
As to summer temperatures, Rolando Uria, Salvia expert and professor of horticulture at the University of Buenos Aires, suggests growing S. atrocyanea in climates with cool summers.
Whereas cyanea refers to the blue of this sage's flowers and bracts, atro means "dark." The common name -- Dark Flowered Bolivian Sage -- combines the plant's coloring with part of its native distribution.
Deer resist the charms of Dark Flowered Bolivian Sage, but hummingbirds can't.
(Temascaltepec Sage) In full bloom, which is all year in mild climates, this mid-sized, shrubby Salvia has far more flowers than foliage. Each 1/2-inch-long, bright pink bloom has two dark pink/purple spots and a pair of white stripes. The small, slightly furry leaves add to its soft, pleasing look.
Temascaltepec Sage is new to the United States and comes from the Valle de Bravo Lake region of Central Mexico. It is a tender perennial affected by frost, but so fast growing that it is ideal as an outdoor summer bedding plant. Hummingbirds, bees and butterflies love this sage, which grows well in full sun to partial shade.
This Salvia is a favorite in cut-flower gardens and a superior container plant in a greenhouse or sunroom. We rate it "best of class" for being our top performer among large summer bedding Salvias.
(Blue Sky Mexican Sage) The small flowers of this plant from Neuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, Mexico, are an attractive combination of amethyst-purple and white. The spectacular leaves, which are large and lightly textured, appear blue-green on top and purple-green underneath.
Densely branched, this partial-shade sage is excellent in containers where it's beauty can be appreciated close up. It prefers rich, well-drained soil. Everyone wants a Blue Sky Mexican Sage when they see this mid-height Salvia close up during its fall bloom time. It is ideal for a shrubby border, background planting or a woodland-style garden.
(Red Velvet Sage) Reaching up to 18 inches tall, the floral spikes of this exotic looking Salvia are crowded with small, velvety, orange-red blossoms from mid-summer to late autumn. Its large, dark green, pebbly leaves are beautiful in their own right, making this one of our favorite sages.
Red Velvet Sage is native to Central and South America. In mild climates, it can grow up to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. So sheltering it from the wind -- by staking or situating it near plants that provide support -- is necessary to prevent breakage of the heavy, red tinged stems.
We have found that deep, weekly watering, an occasional light feeding of multipurpose fertilizer and heavy pruning in late winter or early spring keep this dramatic plant looking its best. One reward for this care is excellent stems for cut flower arrangements.
(Giant Bolivian Sage) Hailing from Peru and Bolivia, this tender specimen is found at altitudes of 9,000 feet in the wild. This multi-stemmed, woody-based, climbing Salvia needs support. Hummingbirds love its 5-inch-long, crimson flowers, which are the longest grown by any Salvia and flower from late summer through autumn.
In frost-free zones and with support, such as a trellis or not-too-hot wall, Giant Bolivian Sage can reach nearly 20 feet in height. In most gardens, it will grow 6 to 8 feet in a season. It prefers filtered sun or a combination of morning sun and afternoon shade. Fast-draining, loamy soil is another requirement.
This rare selection always sells out quickly and wins our commendation as our best climbing, flowering sage.
Red was a sacred color in Ancient Incan culture. The red blossoms of various flowers were prized, including Giant Bolivian Sage, Salvia oppositiflora and Salvia tubiflora. They were used as part of religious ceremonies intended to appease various gods, including mountain dieties who the Incans believed were the cause of volcanic eruptions.
This is the confirmed species. We guarantee its identity.
(Shaggy Chiapas Sage) This is a sweetheart! Glowing magenta flowers lure the eye as well as hummingbirds to this heat-tolerant sage. It begins blooming in late summer where weather is warm and in fall where it is cooler.
This compact shrub from Chiapas, Mexico, has heavily textured leaves and is attractive even when not in bloom.
Reports from colder areas suggest that this Zone 9-to-11 plant may be suitable for Zone 8. Even if you grow it as an annual, you will be very impressed by the large clusters of 1-inch, furry, bright flowers.
This is an adaptable plant, which grows in full sun or partial shade and does well in containers and shrubby borders. We highly recommend it as one of the strongest hummingbird magnets we grow.
(Gravid Sage) This tender perennial from Michoacán, Mexico, has large, rich magenta flowers that hang from the arching branches in clusters up to 12 inches long. Growing up to 5 feet tall, this sage offers an unforgettable display when in bloom.
"Gravid" means "with child," and a plant loaded with it's full inflorescence does bring a pregnant woman to mind. Grow this dazzling sage against a wall or trellis. Give it full sun or partial shade as well as rich, well-drained soil and ample water.
Consider Gravid Sage for border, background and container plantings.
(Violet Calyx Sage) Here's another abundantly blooming sage from the cloud forest slopes of Chiapas, Mexico. Violet beelines mark the lower lip of the crimson blossoms, which are so numerous that it can be difficult to see the foliage at times.
Bloom time is autumn into winter in Zones 9 to 11. The 2-inch-long, netted leaves have purple undersides, making this plant attractive even when not in bloom. Well branched and compact, it has an attractive fountain shape that makes it work well as an accent plant. Violet Calyx Sage also looks good in a large patio container. Give this water-loving species rich, well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade.
One last bit of buzz: Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds -- especially ones hanging out for the winter in warm climates -- love this plant. Fortunately, deer don't.
(Giant Colombian Red Mountain Sage) In 1898, physician and medical plant researcher Henry Hurd Rusby (1855-1940) found this towering sage with large, deep red flowers in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains of Colombia.
Salvia libanensis is endemic to the Colombian Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, so it is a mystery to us why its scientific name refers to Lebanon. San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum recently introduced this rare, high-altitude sage to the horticultural community. Dr. Frank Almeda, Curator and Senior Botanist at the California Academy of Sciences collected seed of this plant in 2012. It blooms profusely in the main gate entry garden of the San Francisco Botanical Garden.
The fuzziness of Salvia libanensis -- from its reddish green stems to its large, oval-shaped leaves -- is another attraction of this floriferous, shrubby perennial.
(Giant Colombian Pink Mountain Sage) In 1898, physician and medical plant researcher Henry Hurd Rusby (1855-1940) found the red-flowered variety of this towering species in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains of Colombia. This one has large, reddish-pink flowers.
Salvia libanensis is endemic to the Colombian Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, so it is a mystery to us why its scientific name refers to Lebanon. San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum recently introduced this rare, high-altitude sage to the horticultural community. Both the red and pink forms bloom profusely.
The fuzziness of Salvia libanensis 'Pink Form', including its stems and large, oval-shaped leaves, is another attraction of this floriferous, shrubby perennial.
(Bolivian Mountain Sage) Neon lilac-pink flowers light up the handsome, furry foliage of this distinctive sage from high in the Andes cloud forests. Its large, textured leaves have dark, velvety purple undersides. Unhappy in dry heat, this is a very showy plant for humid areas.
In our mild coastal climate, Bolivian Mountain Sage does well in full sun; however, partial shade and ample water are keys to success in hotter, drier areas. It also appreciates rich, well-drained soil.
In the ground, this sage grows into a shrub up to 5 feet tall in Zone 9 to 11. Or plant it in a large container as a natural focal point on a partially shady patio. It also works well as a seasonal bedding plant. But remember that this water-loving sage particularly appreciates morning sun and afternoon shade.
In mild climates, it blooms year round, so this is a great choice for gardens where hummingbirds winter over. As with so many Salvias, this one is deer resistant.
(Smith College Mystery Sage) This mysterious species came to us via Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. We refer to it as "Mystery Sage" as the origins of this fine plant are unclear.
This is a subshrub, which means that it combines woody growth with soft, herbaceous foliage. Give it full sun to partial shade, average watering based on local conditions and rich, well-drained soil. Expect it to grow rapidly and bloom profusely. The flower clusters are golf ball sized, and cover the plant late in the season. In warmer Zones it can bloom all year long!
This is an excelent choice for seasonal bedding in colder climates, where it brings an exotic look to the garden. Honeybees love this heat-tolerant, mid-height sage, but deer avoid it.
(Ember's Wish Sage) Bright coral-colored, tubular blossoms contrast handsomely with the deep maroon stems, rusty rose calyxes and mid-green foliage of Ember's Wish Sage.
Plant Growers Australia (PGA) discovered and developed this naturally occurring sport of Wendy's Wish Sage (Salvia x 'Wendy's Wish'), which is an accidental hybrid from the Victoria, Australia, garden of Salvia enthusiast Wendy Smith. Similar to its parent plant, Ember's Wish is popular with hummingbirds but not deer.
Smith found Wendy's Wish beneath S. mexicana 'Lolly'. However, its parentage is unknown. Some nearby sages it may be related to are Buchanan's Sage (S. buchananii), Scarlet Sage (S. splendens), Chiapas Sage (Salvia chiapensis) and Purple Majesty Sage (S. guaranitica 'Purple Majesty').
PGA decided that, as with Wendy's Wish, licensing of Ember's Wish would require that a portion of each sale benefit Australia's Make-a-Wish Foundation. A third member of the Wish Collection, Love and Wishes Sage, also aids the foundation in fulfilling the requests of Australia's seriously ill children.
The parents of two teenage siblings who died from a genetic disorder, Emma and Brett Shegog, won the right to name PGA's plant. They combined their children's first names to create "Ember."
In coastal areas with moderate temperatures, Ember's Wish grows well in full sun. However, it appreciates a bit of shade in hotter climates. Growing about waist-high, Ember's Wish is a floriferous plant that requires little to no deadheading of blossoms. Its combination of woody and soft herbaceous growth mark it as a subshrub.
Although this long-blooming sage does well with average irrigation based on local conditions, it appreciates plentiful watering with excellent soil drainage.
(Love and Wishes Sage) Deep purple calyxes support the magenta-purple, tubular blossoms of Salvia x 'Love and Wishes'. They contrast handsomely with dark stems and mid-green foliage.
Retired government worker John Fisher of Orange, Australia, hybridized Love and Wishes from Wendy's Wish Sage (Salvia x 'Wendy's Wish'). He decided that it should benefit Australia's Make-a-Wish Foundation similar to its parent plant.
Wendy's Wish is an accidental hybrid from the Victoria, Australia, garden of Salvia enthusiast Wendy Smith. Smith found its seedling beneath S. mexicana 'Lolly'. However, the plant's parentage remains a mystery.
Smith's cultivar and other Wish Collection Sages -- Ember's Wish as well as Love and Wishes -- may be related to Buchanan's Sage (S. buchananii), Scarlet Sage (S. splendens), Chiapas Sage (Salvia chiapensis) and Purple Majesty Sage (S. guaranitica 'Purple Majesty').
Sales of all Wish Collection sage aid Make-a-Wish in fulfilling the requests of Australia's seriously ill children.
In coastal areas with moderate temperatures, Love and Wishes grows well in full sun. However, it appreciates a bit of shade in hotter climates. Growing about waist-high, Love and Wishes is a long-blooming, floriferous plant that requires little to no deadheading of blossoms. Its combination of woody and soft herbaceous growth mark it as a subshrub.
Although Love and Wishes Sage does well with average irrigation based on local conditions, it appreciates plentiful watering with excellent soil drainage. Similar to its parent plant and Ember's Sage, this nectar-rich Salvia is popular with hummingbirds but not deer.
Photo courtesy of Sunset Western Garden Collection
(Costa Rica Blue Sage) Although this handsome plant is often listed as an Anise Leaf Sage (Salvia guaranitica), we think it is a hybrid based on differences in its growth pattern and flowering season.
Costa Rica Blue Sage is a long-blooming, vigorous plant that can reach up to 6 feet tall. It has large violet-blue flowers with purplish bracts and large, tropical-type leaves. Similar to Anise Leaf Sage, it is a hummingbird magnet.
This is a sun-loving sage, but also grows well in partial shade in warm climates. Give it rich, well-drained soil and regular watering. Plant it in a spot where you want to make a bold statement.
Hummingbirds love Salvia (sage) nectar and are attracted to it by the bright colors of tubular sage blossoms. In particular, these little whirlybirds can easily spot flowers in the red spectrum, which is prevalent among sages. Here are some hummingbird gardening tips.