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Drought Praise: 5 Hot Red Salvias for Hummingbirds

Drought Praise: 5 Hot Red Salvias for Hummingbirds
Category: Xeric Choices

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Synopsis: Hummingbirds love the nectar of Salvias, particularly red ones, which they can see but bees can't. Also, unlike most birds, hummingbirds can taste sweets and seek out flowers that produce lots of sugary nectar. However, nectar can be difficult to come by during drought. The Salvia genus is well known for its bright flowers, rich nectar and many drought-tolerant plants. We suggest five bright red, drought-tolerant Salvias that hummingbirds love.

Hummingbirds love the nectar of Salvias, particularly varieties in red, which they can see but bees can't. Also, unlike most birds, hummingbirds can taste sweets and seek out flowers that produce lots of sugary nectar.

However, nectar can be difficult to come by during drought. Flowers that withstand dry conditions and produce plentiful sweet stuff are important. The Salvia genus is well known for its bright flowers, rich nectar and many drought-tolerant plants.

We grow lots of hummingbird Salvias at Flowers by the Sea. Here are some hot red favorites for xeric -- low water -- gardens. All are subshrubs, which means they combine some woodiness with soft herbaceous perennial growth. 

Xeric Salvias for Hummingbird Gardens
All of these Salvias are great choices for container planting. Three tolerate winter chill (Zones 5 and 6), and all thrive in summer heat. Similar to most sages, none tempt deer.

Vermilion Bluffs® Mexican Sage (Salvia darcyi 'Pscarl') Zones 5 to 9

  • Blooms summer to fall
  • 48 inches tall and 36 inches wide in bloom
  • Wrinkly, mid-green foliage
  • Full sun
  • Hummingbirds

Windwalker® Royal Red Salvia (Salvia darcyi x microphylla 'Windwalker') Zones 5 to 9

  • Blooms summer to fall
  • 48 inches tall and 60 inches wide in bloom
  • Mid-green, veined foliage
  • Full sun
  • Honeybees and hummingbirds

Radio Red Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii 'Radio Red') Zones 6 to 9

  • Blooms spring to fall
  • Fine, fragrant, mint-green foliage
  • 18 inches tall and wide in bloom
  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Honeybees and hummingbirds

Honey Rose Mountain Sage (Salvia microphylla 'Honey Rose') Zones 7 to 9

  • Blooms spring to fall
  • Small, veined, mid-green foliage
  • 48 inches tall and 24 inches wide in bloom
  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Honeybees and hummingbirds

Scarlet Spires Sage (Salvia x 'Scarlet Spires') Zones 7 to 9

  • Blooms summer to fall
  • Gray-green foliage
  • 48 inches tall and wide in bloom
  • Full sun 
  • Butterflies, honeybees, hummingbirds

FBTS Catalog Search for Drought Plants
Click this way; click that way. There are many ways to find the information you need about drought-resistant plants in the FBTS online catalog. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Click on the Salvias A to Z category in the thick green menu bar at the top of each page on our website. When the new page opens, access the "water needs" section of our product filters in the left margin. Click on "drought resistant" to open a queue of plants requiring the least water. Then try the "average" filter and search for plants that prefer some supplemental watering but may do well during drought.
  2. Click on the Salvias by Culture category in the menu bar, then open the "drought tolerant" icon. This will show you the broad range of drought-resistant species. 
  3. To find our most drought-tolerant species, click on the Blue Tag Xeric Plants category. Be careful not to overwater them.

More Information 
If you have more questions about any of our plants or about gardening during drought and in dry climates, please contact us. We're glad to help you add color, nectar and hummingbirds to your yard.