(Anthony Parker Bush Sage) Floriferous spikes of dark blue to purple flowers bloom midsummer to fall on this tidy, mid-height subshrub that grows as wide as it is tall.
Anthony Parker Bush Sage is a chance hybrid that garden designer Frances Parker discovered in her South Carolina garden in 1994 and named for her grandson. It appears to be a cross between Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha 'Midnight') and Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) and is perennial in areas with moderate winters.
Although not aromatic, the gray-green, heart-shaped leaves are similar to those of Pineapple Sage, including their attractive veining. Anthony Parker Bush Sage's flowers -- lovely in cut-flower arrangements -- reflect those of Mexican Sage, but are darker and more slender.
Hummingbirds love this full-sun sage, which makes it a valuable addition to wildlife habitat. We love it too and give it our "best of class" designation as the best blue-blossomed, fall-flowering sage for your garden.
Our photograph of this variety is not particularly good. Here is a link to a better one on Pinterest.
(Midnight Mexican Bush Sage) The typical Mexican Bush Sage has purple flowers surrounded by furry white bracts. This clone from the San Francisco Peninsula has deep purple flowers, calyxes and stems. It is a good groundcover due to a mounding habit, smaller size and generous amounts of flowers.
Similar to other Mexican Bush Sages, Midnight is pleasantly fuzzy. The hairiness helps protect this full sun, heat-tolerant sage against drought. Use this compact plant in shrubby borders and large containers. It is also a fine addition to a cut-flower garden, blooming from summer into fall.
Deer avoid this sage, but honeybees, hummingbirds and butterflies are drawn to it.
(Door of the Fox Mexican Sage) Purplish foliage contrasts attractively with the violet-to-purple flowers of this big sage, which grows 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Bloom time is autumn. This darkly dramatic Mexican Sage makes a particularly attractive entryway accent.
Zorra is Spanish for female fox as well as slang for prostitute. At one time, we heard that Puerto de la Zorra (door of the fox) was collected in front of a brothel. How wrong we were. Upon learning that North Carolina Salvia specialist Rich Dufresne found this Mexican Sage in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, we asked him about its naming and location. He collected it along what is still an isolated stretch of the old Pan American Highway (Mexican Federal Highway 85). The only marker nearby was a wooden sign that said "Zorra." Dufresne concludes that there may be lots of fox dens in this rural area.
Other good uses for this Salvia mexicana include hedges and perennial borders. It looks pretty among mixed plantings in a hummingbird garden. Growing it in a container is fine, but will limit height.
Give this unique, heat-tolerant perennial full sun to partial shade along with regular watering. One more tip: It doesn't seem to mind occupying damp spots in the yard.
(Byron's Mexican Sage) One of our favorite Mexican Sages, this large variety is reputed to be a hybrid between Salvia mexicana and S. hispanica -- a species of Chia Sage.
Byron's Mexican Sage grows up to 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Its large, fall-blooming flowers are deep violet with bi-color calyxes that are bright green with dark purple streaks. Hummingbirds and honeybees love the blossoms.
Unlike its parent species, this plant is fragrant. It's also the strongest growing and longest blooming type of S. mexicana that we grow.
We have found this variety to be exceptionally drought resistant, but it does best with regular watering. It also appreciates rich, well-drained soil. Grow this perennial as an accent, screen or part of a tall border. We've voted it our very best Salvia mexicana.
(Jean's Purple Sage) If you are looking for a deep purple perennial for accenting an entryway or back of border in flower beds, Jean's Purple Passion may be the right choice.
This spectacular hybrid crosses Anise Leaf Sage (Salvia guaranitica) and Big Mexican Scarlet Sage (S. gesnerifolia). Jean's Purple Passion most closely resembles Anise Leaf Sage, but has much larger flowers.
Often starting its flowering cycle in June, this sage blooms until hard frosts send it into winter dormancy. It is so long blooming that we often send visitors home with bouquets of its fragrant flowers. Butterflies and hummingbirds are equally appreciative of its charms.
Jean's Purple Passion prefers full sun, rich, well-drained soil, ample water and moderate winter temperatures. Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, developed it and named the hybrid for Jean Coria, a gardening enthusiast who propagated many Salvia species at San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum.
(Pink Mexican Bush Sage) Although native to Mexico and Central America, this elegant variety of Salvia leucantha was hybridized in South Africa. It is compact, long blooming and profusely covered by soft pink flowers surrounded by velvety white bracts.
It is our experience that many of the plants sold under the name 'Danielle's Dream' are not the true variety. Also, to further the confusion, this variety of Mexican Bush Sage goes by many names. But this is the real thing.
Plant this drought-resistant, heat-tolerant sage in full sun. Use it in a shrubby border, a cut-flower garden or as a magnificently large container plant. Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds will show their appreciation by visiting regularly.
(Texas Firecracker) Hummingbirds and butterflies will thank you with frequent visits if you add this long-blooming plant to your wildlife garden. Its bright orange trumpet-type flowers with long, narrow petals are wells of delicious nectar.
Texas Firecracker is a subshrub, which means that it combines soft, herbaceous perennial foliage with some woodiness. It has slender, lance-shaped, dark green leaves. Trim it back in late winter for better form and fuller spring growth.
Although related to the Bears Breeches genus (Acanthus), Texas Firecracker lacks the thorny sepals of those plants. Anisacanthus is Greek for "without thorns." Wrightii means that this native Texas species is named for American botanist Charles Wright (1811-1885) who, beginning in 1837, spent 15 years collecting extensively in Texas.
This is a mid-height, heat-tolerant species that loves full sun. Texas Firecracker resists drought, but thrives with average watering based on local conditions. It does well in containers as well as mixed borders.
For pyrotechnical color in the garden, mix it with the clear, pumpkin-orange flowers of Golden Flame Texas Firecracker (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii) and the crimson blossoms of Red Texas Firecracker ( Anisacanthus wrightii 'Select Red').
Don't worry about deer; this plant isn't to their taste.
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.