(Bitter Mexican Sage) Hummingbirds love this heat-tolerant Salvia, which is one of our best choices for shady, moist areas. The large-lipped, baby-blue flowers with white striations bloom from late summer through fall.
This compact shrub grows well in the garden or in a container, especially where it will receive morning sun and afternoon shade or partial shade all day. In its native Mexico, it is used as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments. We love its grace and beauty in the garden!
These are species that produce woody stems, but die back to the ground in the winter in all but the warmest climates. In warm winter areas these can become woody shrubs, but they generally benefit from the following pruning methods.
Pruning is both an art and a science. It takes practice, experience and learning from your mistakes to become a proficient pruner. The pruning information about this plant should be considered as a guideline for getting started. Your particular climate, soils, watering and fertility schedules, sun exposure, space requirements and weather are all factors that influence how and when you choose to prune. We’re providing a starting place for you, and over time you will learn the particularities of this plant in your garden. Don’t be afraid to get started – Salvias, in general, are quick to rebound if inappropriately pruned.
Deadheading – the removal of spent flowers, is a practice that will always benefit the plant’s health and appearance. This can be done at any time. Pruning involves removal of entire stems of spent growth. Becoming "spent" means that flowering stems stop blooming and begin going to seed.
(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.
(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.
(Cayman Island Sage) Compact and intensely fragrant, this shrubby sage is excellent for containers or the edge of a pathway. Small blue and white flowers mass about its densely branched foliage. It loves rich, moist soil and warm weather.
Cayman Island Sage does well in full sun or partial shade. However, it goes semi-dormant during cool weather, so in colder zones it should be grown as an annual or a greenhouse container plant. In warmer areas, it makes a fine ground cover or woodland garden plant.
When children visit FBTS, this rare Salvia always wins the "What smells strongest in the nursery?" contest. It has quite a history. Read all about it at London's Royal Botanic Gardens website.
(Blue Black Mexican Sage) This spectacular and hardy native of Central Mexico is exciting to watch as new growth shoots upward rapidly from its root stock in spring. Its large, vibrant, purple-blue flowers bloom for about 10 months and are profuse from late autumn through winter on flower spikes up to 20 inches long.
Calyxes similar in color to the flowers they cup give this sage its scientific name, which means “of the same color.” Easy to grow in a partial shade location, this woodland plant is sometimes mistaken for Salvia guaranitica. However, it is a different species.
Blue Black Mexican Sage works well up against a fence or building that offers morning sun and afternoon shade as well as protection from wind. Plant it as a shrubby border, screen or container plant. It's ideal for moist areas.
(Corrugated Sage) Dense, purple-blue whorls of flowers complement this evergreen‘s somewhat linear, deeply textured -- or corrugated -- dark green leaves with cottony undersides. It is a handsome native of the Ecuadorian Andes Mountains.
Corrugated Sage grows quickly and easily up to 6 feet tall and wide. It needs full sun, well-drained soil and regular water to stay in nearly continuous bloom and look it’s best. Occasional pruning of the growing tips or container planting helps restrict the shrub's growth to about 2 to 3 feet tall and wide.
We enjoy contrasting this plant’s rounded, dense form with taller, airier sages, such as Salvia guaranitica 'Purple Majesty'.
In addition to planting it in decorative containers, we highly recommend using this plant in shrub borders and moist woodland-style gardens.
(Confused Argentine Sage) Similar in many ways to the indispensable garden favorites of the Anise Scented Sage (Salvia guaranitica spp.) group, this plant is a perfect companion for its better known cousin.
Both the (S. guaranitica) sages and (Salvia rhinosina) bloom from summer through fall. This Argentinian native has light violet and white flowers that contrast attractively with the deep purples of the anise sages.
Fountain-like growth and large leaves up to 7 inches long give this lovely South American sage a tropical look in temperate zones. It grows well in full sun to partial shade in USDA Zones 7 to 9.
Use this plant as you would (Salvia guaranitica spp.) for screening areas or providing a backdrop to other shorter sages in a perennial border. We think it goes especially well with 'Rhythm and Blues'. Together they offer great contrasts in leaf size and flower color.
As the common name indicates, the scientific naming of this plant is somewhat confused. However, we are confident that ours is correctly identified.
(Rosy Bract Sage) Sub-shrub salvias have both woody and soft, herbaceous growth. Rosy Bract Sage is a tidy, small leafed sub-shrub that grows about 2 feet tall and wide. It is smothered with large clusters of 1/2-inch, violet-blue flowers and rosy red bracts that deepen to rusty burgundy as the season proceeds.
This water-loving, mounding sage is hardy to USDA Zones 8 to 11. Give it partial shade, rich soil and ample water, and it will give you a stunning, long-blooming floral display beginning in spring. You can use Salvia rubiginosa as a groundcover, path edging or part of perennial borders and pathway edging. It is a good choice for damp woodland gardens.
This native of southern coastal Mexico and Guatamala is also one of our favorite container plants. It seems to bloom the entire growing season.
(Bog Sage) Highly adaptable, Salvia uliginosa is ideal for the beginning sage gardener. It isn't fussy about soil type, sun exposure, drainage or frequency of watering.
This fragrant sage's common and scientific names don't communicate its beauty or growing range. Both names refer to the boggy conditions in which it grows in the wild in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. However, although it appreciates moisture, Bog Sage also does well in dry conditions that cause this stoloniferous plant to spread less.
Lovely sky-blue blooms, with white beelines on the upper and lower lips, top the many slender, graceful stems from summer to fall. When swaying in the breeze at the back of a perennial border or as part of a screen, Bog Sage is a pleasing sight for butterflies, honeybees, hummingbirds and humans alike.
Although it has an average height and spread of about 40 inches with flower spikes making it a bit taller, Bog Sage sometimes can reach heights of more than 72 inches, according to Mississippi State University.
Partial shade is preferable, but Bog Sage also grows well in full sun in all but the hottest and most arid environments. Cold and heat tolerant, it grows well in regions ranging from the arid Rocky Mountain West to the humid Deep South. Give it partial shade if possible. Full sun is fine in all but the hottest and most arid environments. We always sell out of this plant early in the season.
(Blue Bush Sage) Furry, large and heavily textured, the mid-green leaves of Salvia urica contrast attractively with its violet-blue flowers that bloom spring into summer.
Blue Bush Sage is a sub-shrub with woody stems as well as soft, herbaceous growth. It is native to moist, mountainous jungles in Chiapas, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras where it grows at altitudes from 1,000 to 8,500 feet. So it appreciates partial shade and moisture.
Plant this dramatic hummingbird sage in a container. Or add it to a shrubby border in a woodland garden. It grows quickly, and starts blooming early in the season. In areas with colder winters than those of USDA Zone 9, it is an excellent annual.
(Margie Griffith Sage) Salvia x 'Margie Griffith' is a big, purple-flowered beauty with glossy green, ribbed foliage. It feeds hummingbirds year round down South and on our coastal, Northern California farm where winter temperatures are moderate.
Donna L. Dittmann, collections manager at Louisiana State University's Museum of Natural Science created this sturdy hybrid, which is said to have Salvia mexicana (Mexican Sage) and Salvia involucrata (Roseleaf Sage) parentage. Perhaps it's the Roseleaf influence that gives it a touch of shade tolerance.
Dittmann shared her plant with hummingbird expert Nancy L. Newfield, who shared it with us. The sage is named for their late friend Margie Griffith. The three of them became deeply connected through the Louisiana Ornithological Society and wildlife gardening.
Salvia x 'Margie Griffith' is a perennial at the cooler end of its range and a shrub in warmer zones. In the far north it may bloom too late to support the fall hummingbird migration. It is at it's best in mild climates with little to no frost.
Hummingbirds find it tasty, but deer avoid it. Give it average watering and rich, well-drained soil.
(Michoacan Blue Sage) This unusual and distinctive Mexican sage grows from tuberous roots. It is compact and decidedly vertical with strong, square, winged stems that rocket upward and are topped with clusters of rich blue flowers in large rosy bracts come autumn.
In Zone 7 and above, you can leave the tubers in the ground or dig them up and divide them as you would dahlias to extend their growing range in your yard. Due to this plant's drought tolerance, we have been able to grow it without watering in summer. It needs full sun to partial shade and does well in containers, border plantings, cut-flower gardens and woodland-style gardens.
The identification and nomenclature of this plant have been confusing at best. However, one thing is certain: If you grow it, you'll love it!
(Purple Leaf Tall Big Leaf Sage) Bright green on top, the long leaves of this distinctive sage are a dark, furry purple on the undersides. Like the more typical green form of Salvia Macrophylla, this variety has cobalt blue flowers that seem to float in airy clusters on 12-inch-tall branching spikes.
This fast-growing, herbaceous perennial from Peru is adaptable to full sun and full shade. However, a combination of morning sun and afternoon shade may be more to its liking. Heat tolerant and water-loving, it is an ideal choice for a humid climate such as Florida's. Try it in a container indoors or on a patio. It's also a good choice for borders and background plantings.
Salvia Macrophylla 'Purple Leaf' grows in a tidy, upright fashion, producing 2-inch-long flowers without pause from summer through early fall. Hummingbirds love it, but deer resist its charms.
(Grape Leaf Sage) Tall spikes of intensely blue flowers bloom summer to fall and emerge in profusion from handsome, furry foliage. The leaves are grape green on top and purplish on the bottom. This water-loving sage grows rapidly into a spreading mound.
Grow this one in full sun in cooler areas or in partial shade where summers are hot. Good drainage is essential along with rich soil for best results. This showy sage from Oaxaca, Mexico, is ideal for patio planters and damp woodland gardens in USDA Zones 9 to 11.
We highly recommend this sage, which is relatively new to the horticultural trade in the US. There is, however, some confusion about its identity. Some sources say it should be called Salvia serboana.
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.
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.