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.
Vivid deep violet flowers bloom from summer into fall and contrast prettily with the bright green, rumply foliage of this tall sage from southeastern Mexico. Belgian botanist and orchid lover Jean-Jules Linden was the first to record its discovery in 1838, according to records on file at Britain’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Linden shares credit for this sage with two peers who also were researching the botanical treasures of Mexico -- botanists Henri Guillaume Galeotti of France and Martin Martens of Belgium. The website MexConnect notes that Linden and Galeotti were part of a scientific entourage that climbed Mexico’s highest peak -- the volcano El Pico de Orizaba, which rises 18,853 feet above sea level – near Veracruz in 1838. Perhaps that is where they encountered this heat-tolerant, yet water-loving sage.
By six years later, the plant was published as Salvia biserrata M. Martens & Galeotti. Who knows why Martens’ name is attached to the species and not Linden’s? It is a tantalizing mystery about a tough, attractive plant for which little information is available.
However, we do know that this herbaceous perennial grows rapidly up to 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. It does well in either sun or partial shade and loves water and rich, well-drained soil. We also know that hummingbirds love it, but deer do not. We think you would enjoy it in borders, background plantings, moist areas of the yard, patio containers and seasonal flowerbeds.
Note: The name of this plant could be suspect, as not all botanists agree. Whatever the name, this is a great summer Salvia.
(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.
(Elk Blue Hard Leaf Sage) Soft baby blue & white flowers in abundance coupled with strong growth make this an ideal new variety for hummingbird gardeners. the specific epitaph, durifolia, means hard leaf. We don't find the leaf exactly hard but it is lovely and durable.
Grow this outstanding variety in full sun or in a bit of shade in hot climates. In frost free areas it becomes a shrub, blooming almost year round. In Zone 8 it is a herbacious perennial that returns strongly in the late spring. In colder Zones its a good choice for a summer annual. These flowers are true blue.
It's our bet that this new introduction will become a standard for hummingbird gardens.
(Oaxaca Orange Wooly Sage) Tall, eye-catching spikes of dusky red-orange flowers that bloom from summer into fall make this one of our most impressive Salvias. Plus it's cold hardy into Zone 7.
Even in a fully blooming border, this native of Southern Mexico's cloud forests is the plant that draws the eye.The flowers harmonize with deep blues, such as the gentian of Salvia patens 'Patio Blue,' and bright yellows, including Salvia nubicola.
It is Oaxaca Orange's hairy foliage that gains it the description of being 'wooly' and helps it survive drought and heat. This sage works well in herbaceous perennial borders and container plantings or as a small-scale groundcover in the broad range of climates from Zones 7 to 11. We highly recommend it.
(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.
(Fuzzy Bolivian Sage) Large, bright and fuzzy, the cherry-licorice red flowers of this sage top what at first glance appears to be smooth, glassy green foliage. Up close, the large, lance-shaped leaves are velvety with clear-to-white hairs.
This tropical perennial is slow to start growing in spring, but takes off as the days get longer and warmer. Then it blooms from summer to fall, attracting hummingbirds. It grows well in USDA Zones 7 to 9, but needs winter mulching in the cooler part of that range. Well-drained, loose soil and mulch help the plant's underground runners survive to grow new stems in the spring.
Salvia oxyphora is from middle elevations in the Bolivian Andes, where it grows on the edge of moist, warm forests. It loves rich soil, lots of moisture and full sun to partial shade.
We enjoy growing this dramatic, heat-tolerant plant in containers where its showy flowers can be enjoyed close up. Moist woodland gardens are another good setting. One last tip: The branches of Salvia oxyphora tend to be somewhat brittle. Pinching it back encourages good branching and protects it from breaking in strong winds.
(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.