(Puna Sage) The deep violet-blue flowered Salvia calolophos has white beelines and oblong, mid-green leaves. It is a high-altitude native of northern Argentina.
This petite, mounding sage is from the Puna region of the Argentine Andes. Puna Sage is rare in the horticultural trade.
As to its species name, calo means beautiful in Latin and lophos refers to a crest, such as the plume on a helmet. Calolophos most likely refers to the plant's flower spikes, which bloom abundantly at their tips to create a plume-like look.
Growing Puna Sage is challenging. In its home environment, it thrives in rocky soil with excellent drainage. Although it prefers average watering based on local growing conditions, this is a sage that seems to like its soil to dry a bit before watering.
As a subshrub, this Salvia combines both soft herbaceous and woody growth. Winter chill may cause it to die to ground, but it will reemerge the next growing season. Similar to most sages, this is a deer-resistant species.
The Salvia genus is part of the huge mint family (Lamiaceae). American botanist and Lamiaceae expert Carl C. Epling (1894-1968) gave Salvia calolophos its scientific name in 1935.
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.
(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.
(Pink Tehuacan Sage) Large clusters of big, fuzzy, hot magenta-pink flowers top the elegant foliage of this Mexican sage. It is long blooming beginning in late spring and does well in full sun or partial shade. We want to help spread this rare sage that deserves to be widely planted.
This is a relatively new plant in cultivation and was collected in the Tehuacan region of Mexico -- the same area where the first wild maize was cultivated. Similar to vegetable garden plants, it likes moisture and rich, well-drained soil. Although its growth can be limited through careful pruning or container planting, this lovely Salvia can reach up to 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide in the ground.
We highly recommend this plant for use next to an entryway and in a border or woodland-style garden. Thanks to botanist Brent Barnes for the great picture capturing its beauty.
(Peruvian Sage or Concolor Sage) Native to the high Andes of Peru, this is a distinctive Salvia with apple-green leaves that are smooth on top and silver-haired fuzzy on the bottom. The flowers are such a dark purple that they almost look black.
Large and showy, the flowers of Peruvian Sage -- also known as Concolor Sage for its bicolor leaves -- bloom from spring through autumn. They continue blooming during the chill of winter if kept in a greenhouse. Peruvian Sage does best if watered regularly and given shade for part of the day, but cannot tolerate wet soils.
The plant's wiry stems are scandent, which means that they climb upward like vines but without tendrils. When planted in the ground, its stems arch and form ground cover. This dramatic plant looks lovely in a hanging basket or in a container with a light trellis or bamboo poles supporting its sprawling growth.
Situate Peruvian Sage where it will delight you with its black currant fragrance that makes all seem well in the world. This is one of our favorite plants, and we are glad to report that deer don't seem to like it!
(Blue Ecuadorian Sage) A densely branched shrub with silvery leaves and dusky blue flowers, this rare species was once thought to be Salvia cruickshanksii. In the nursery trade, it sometimes is called Salvia 'Equador'.
This is the true species and a great groundcover or shrubby border perennial for warm areas. We find that this Salvia does best with ample water, but is remarkably drought tolerant if necessary. The warmer your garden, the larger it grows. Monster plants up to 12 feet tall have been reported in the hills above Monterey Bay.
The flowers, which seem to never stop blooming, are strongly marked with white bee lines. Especially in the warmth of summer this variety is one that blooms non-stop, attracting honeybees, butterflies and hummingbirds. It needs to be cut back occasionally so that new growth predominates.
Blue Equadorian Sage looks handsome in mixed containers, where it is a fine backdrop for plants with darker or glossy green leaves. Although this perennial's ultimate cold tolerance is unknown, it may be a candidate for Zones 7 and 8.
Found in only six locations in the Andes at 8,000 to 9,000 feet, this is a species considered "vulnerable." Plant it and you are helping to preserve a species that is one step short of being classified as endangered.
(Creeping Big Leaf Sage) Cobalt blue flowers float in airy clusters on 12-inch spikes above the velvety, green leaves of this South American native from summer into fall. Short and spreading by woody rhizomes, it is an ideal groundcover.
The foliage of this herbaceous, perennial sage looks similar to sweet potato leaves. It is dramatic in a container or as the border of a raised planter with its giant, heart-shaped leaves cascading over the sides. Some gardeners grow it as a houseplant.
Fast-growing, it 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, this sage is an ideal choice for a humid climate such as Florida's. But don't forget to give it rich, well-drained soil.
(Tall Big Leaf Sage) Cobalt blue flowers seem to float in airy clusters on 12-inch-tall branching spikes above the bright green, velvety foliage of this South American native. Up to 5-feet tall, tidy and upright in habit, this sage makes a fine background or border planting when massed.
This fast-growing, herbaceous perennial 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.
Salvia Macrophylla 'Tall Form' grows in a tidy, upright fashion, producing 2-inch-long flowers without pause from summer through fall. Hummingbirds love it, but deer resist its charms.
(Arrowleaf Sage) Brilliant royal blue flowers and unusual foliage attract the eye to Arrowleaf Sage. This large herbaceous perennial is found at elevations up to 10,000 feet in the Cordillera de los Andes of Chile, Ecuador and Peru.
Sagittata refers to the arrowhead shaped leaves, which are deeply textured, lime-green and woolly on the undersides. The flowers rise up 1 to 2 feet on dark, leafy spikes from summer into fall.
This sage is adaptable about settings ranging from full sun to partial shade, but needs at least a few hours of strong sunlight daily to bloom well. It also likes well-drained soil that’s high in organic matter, regular watering and a light feeding once or twice a month during rapid growth.
Arrowleaf Sage's habit of spreading via suckers makes it a good groundcover. However, it needs some partial-shade time to do this. It also works well in perennial borders and containers as well as along pathways.
For the best shape and most profuse bloom, cut this sage down to its lowest few active growth nodes in March.
(Tubular Chilean Sage) Foggy days and moderate temperatures are the norm for this low-altitude, coastal mountain sage from northern Chile and Peru. It is grown as much for its handsome foliage as for the deep cranberry of its tiny, tubular flowers.
In the wild Salvia tubiflora can grow up to 9 feet tall in partial shade to full sun. However, in our coastal California gardens it averages 5 feet tall and wide. Add an extra foot to that height when it is in bloom in fall.
This is a handsome sub-shrub that combines mostly soft herbaceous growth with a bit of shrubby wood. The deeply veined leaves are bright green, up to 4 inches long, and shaped like elongated hearts. The flowers are accented by reddish bracts.
In general, this sage handles winter conditions well in USDA Zones 9 to 11. Our Tubular Chilean Sage begins blooming in late September and continues until the onset of inclement weather. It is a fine container plant and also is pretty in shrubby borders. Although this aromatic plant only requires average watering based on local conditions, it is a good choice for moist areas of the yard.
(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.
(Costa Rica Blue Sage) Although this handsome plant is often listed as an Anise Leaf Sage (Salvia guaranitica), we think it is a hybrid based on differences in its growth pattern and flowering season.
Costa Rica Blue Sage is a long-blooming, vigorous plant that can reach up to 6 feet tall. It has large violet-blue flowers with purplish bracts and large, tropical-type leaves. Similar to Anise Leaf Sage, it is a hummingbird magnet.
This is a sun-loving sage, but also grows well in partial shade in warm climates. Give it rich, well-drained soil and regular watering. Plant it in a spot where you want to make a bold statement.
(Big Swing Sage) With its large, cobalt blue flowers displayed on strong, wiry, branched stems, this eye-catching sage wins the FBTS "best of class" designation for being our top Big Leaf Sage (Salvia macrophylla).
Garden writer Betsy Clebsch developed Big Swing, which is a cross between Big Leaf Sage and Arrowleaf Sage (S. sagitata). Its flower spikes rise well above handsome foliage with large, furry, arrowhead-shaped leaves that look almost tropical.
Use this heat-tolerant plant to bring a lush look to a damp corner of your garden or in mixed patio containers. Give it rich, well-drained soil and plenty of water for a long bloom season.
Big Swing comes highly recommended by butterflies, but deer leave it alone.
(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.
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.