|Zone||USDA Zone 9-11|
|Thriller||Salvia rubescens subsp. dolichothrix|
|Filler||Salvia x 'Ember's Wish'|
(Arizona Blue Sage) We are so impressed with this top-performing, drought-resistant ground cover that we have rated it best of class. Arizona Blue Sage is adaptable to a variety of shady conditions and blossoms so abundantly that it seems to have as many rich blue flowers as it has leaves. It is native to dry, shaded areas in mountain canyons in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
This softly mounded plant also works well as a patio container plant. Although it grows well for us in dense shade, it does particularly well in spots where it receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Providing regular watering based on local conditions is best, but this hardy perennial tolerates shortages. It also can withstand a wide temperature range, including extreme summer heat and the chill of Zone 6 winters when mulched. It does not do well in very warm and humid areas unless in a very well drained location with good air circulation.
(Arizona Deep Blue Sage) In contrast to the lavender-blue flowers of Arizona Blue Sage (Salvia arizonica), the blossoms of Arizona Deep Blue are nearly purple. They are the kind of deep lavender that you might see in a southwestern sunset.
The only noticeable way in which the two plants differ is in the color of their flowers, including the pale throats of Deep Blue's blossoms, which are more pronounced than those of the species. Heavily flowered, Deep Blue also has attractive mid-green foliage that forms soft mounds.
Deep Blue thrives in a location with morning sun and afternoon shade due to its native roots in the mountain canyons of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. It is petite and makes an excellent, drought-resistant groundcover in a broad range of USDA zones.
As with its parent species, Deep Blue thrives with average watering based on local conditions yet works well in a dry garden. Another characteristic it shares is tolerance of winter cold as well as summer heat.
A pleasant buzz awaits those who plant Deep Blue, because honeybees love this sage.
(Tall Red Colombian Sage) Salvia rubescens subsp. dolichothrix may tower over your head when in full bloom with its creamy red trumpet blossoms and dark calyxes. Its leaves are large and attractively textured.
Tall Red Colombian Sage is native to the mountains of Columbia and Venezuela. In the U.S., this long blooming shrub grows well as an annual. Give it full sun to partial shade and rich soil that is well drained. Although water-loving, it grows well with average supplemental watering based on local conditions.
This native of Venezuela and Colombia was first described by German botanist Karl Sigismund Paul Kunth (1788-1850) in 1818. Rubescens refers to the reddish color of the flowers.
Plant explorer John R.I. Wood of Oxford University collected the subspecies in Colombia and, in 1989, authored its scientific name with Raymond M. Harley of Kew Royal Botanical Gardens.
We are thankful to University of Buenos Aires agronomy professor and plant explorer Rolando Uria, who collected the seed for our plants in the wild.
(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.
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.
Fragrance as well as color attracts butterflies. However, they don't have noses. Instead, butterflies smell and taste with their antennas and feet. Here are some ways to attract them:
If you live in suburbs or rural areas where deer plunder gardens, Salvias (sages) can be part of your plan for discouraging these hungry visitors. Here are some tips.