(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!
These are species whose stems never develop a woody character and that either die to the ground or loose leaves and become unsightly at the end of a growing season. This group includes both hardy and tender types. Many of the tender forms are grown as annuals in cold winter areas.
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.
During the spring and summer, you can completely cut to the ground any stems that have finished blooming and are becoming unsightly.
In mild climate areas, growth can be so rapid that the entire plant becomes messy and spent mid-way through the season. In this case, it can be cut back close to the ground – given a short “haircut”. The result usually is fresh, vigorous new growth and another round of flowering.
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.
(Variegated Mexican Bush Sage) Although slow growing and somewhat finicky, this sage is a must-have for lovers of unique foliage. It has small purple flowers and highly variegated leaves with stems that are slightly twisted. The overall look is compact and dense.
We have grown this Sage for many years. Many similar-to-identical clones with Japanese names are on the market, but this is the best grower of a not particularly robust variety.
Variegated Mexican Bush Sage likes partial shade. Plant it in humus-rich soil that is well drained and give it plenty of water. It is a delight in a mixed planter.
(White Mischief Mexican Bush Sage) Profuse white blossoms and true white velvety bracts make the flowers of this South African hybrid a lovely choice for a wedding. In our experience, many of the plants sold as White Mischief are not the real thing. This tough, compact, long blooming sage is.
Although its flowers are white, we've noticed that hummingbirds love this Salvia leucantha, which blooms summer into fall. Butterflies are also partial to it, but luckily deer keep their distance.
Plant this heat-loving herbaceous perennial in full sun and well-drained soil. It is elegant in shrubby borders, large containers and cut-flower gardens.
(Red Michoacán Sage) No other Salvia has flowers that are such a deep blood red. The 3-to-4 inch long tubular blossoms of this shade-loving shrub are displayed in clusters at the ends of the stems, which have light green, textured leaves that are almost round.
This sage is a beauty in containers and shrubby borders or as a groundcover. Although it can tolerate full sun, Red Michoacán prefers partial shade. So, if necessary, compromise by choosing a location with morning sun and afternoon shade. Sun or shade, hummingbirds will find their way to its nectar. Deer most likely will munch elsewhere.
Confusion surrounds the scientific name of this plant. At various times, It has been improperly identified as Salvia tubiflora and as Salvia tubifera, which both are orange-flowered, Peruvian species. However, the foliage and growth habit of Salvia longistyla is much different. This is the true, fall-blooming species.
(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.
(Cambridge Blue Gentian Sage) Cambridge Blue is one of the most famous varieties of Salvia patens, which was discovered in Central Mexico in 1838. Its powder blue flowers are delightful and cooling in the landscape.
This variety grows well in full sun or partial shade. Well branched and compact, it has 2 1/2 inch flowers that bloom from summer into fall. Similar to other Gentian Sages, this is a reliable perennial, returning year after year in Zones 8 to 11. However, all varieties of this species are so lovely that they are worth growing as summer bedding plants in colder zones.
British horticulturist Graham Stuart Thomas called Salvia patens "the best plant in cultivation."
Highly recommended by hummingbirds, but not by deer!
(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.
(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!
(Tangerine Pineapple Sage) This citrus-scented cultivar is our smallest variety of Pineapple Sage. Worth growing just for the exotic scent of its leaves, this culinary Salvia is also one of the longest blooming plants in its species.
How is this variety of Pineapple Sage different from Honey Melon? Tangerine's leaves are much smaller (1/2 inch x 1 inch as opposed to 1 inch x 1 1/2 inches), and the plant is shorter (18 inches tall vs. 24 inches). Tangerine also has darker red flowers, foliage with a very different scent and a shrubbier look. Of course, anyone who loves scented plants should have both.
Tangerine Pineapple Sage spreads into a dense clump with underground runners. By cutting back older stems to the ground, new fresh growth keeps it in flower for months. On the Northern California coast, it starts blooming no later than May and sometimes continues until February.
Grow this cultivar in partial shade in warmer zones or in full sun in the coolest part of its range. Along with Honey Melon, Tangerine is easier to grow in most of the country than the larger-growing varieties of Pineapple Sage.
Native to Mexico, Pineapple Sage is found at high elevations in Pine and Oak forests. The species is used as a medicinal herb -- such as in herb tea -- to relieve anxiety and treat hypertension. Just smelling the leaves makes us happier.
(Guanajuato Giant Gentian Sage) At 3 inches long, the flowers of this Gentian Sage are the largest of any we grow. Guanjuato Giant is also unique for its tall, upright growth and heavily textured foliage.
Spikes of deep, true blue flowers that rise up to 48 inches tall make this perennial sage a standout in the garden from summer into fall. This Gentian Sage is reliably perennial in USDA Zones 8 to 11. Its spectacular flowers also make it a fine choice as a summer bedding plant in areas with colder winters.
Guanjuato Giant likes regular watering and rich, well-drained soil. It does fine in full sun or partial shade and can handle moist corners of the yard. Use it as a path edging, border, groundcover or container plant.
German botanist Karl Hartweg discovered the Salvia patens species in 1838. British horticulturist Graham Stuart Thomas later called it "the best plant in cultivation."
Although, true blue is not a part of the color spectrum that hummingbirds favor, they are attracted to Gentian Sages especially when mixed with red-flowered sages.
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.