(Vermilion Bluffs® Mexican Sage) The brilliant red flowers of Vermilion Bluffs bloom abundantly from August to October. This variety of the Mexican native Salvia darcyi is cold hardy to Zone 5b at altitudes up to 5,500 feet.
Salvia darcyi comes from Mexico's eastern Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range where it grows at altitudes up to 9,000 feet. Denver Botanic Gardens developed Vermilion Bluffs to withstand the colder winter weather of the Rocky Mountain region. It is a welcome substitute for Salvia microphylla or Salvia x jamensis , which struggle in cold weather.
This sun-loving sage likes loamy soil. Plant it in shrubby borders, dry flower gardens and containers. Its underground runners form a tough mat that blocks weeds.
The wrinkly, soft green foliage forms a graceful mound that glows against the bright flowers, which attract butterflies and hummingbirds. After frost, the foliage dies to the ground like an herbaceous perennial. Then it returns in spring.
We can't help but highly recommend this easy-care plant.
Vermilion Bluffs is a registered trademark of Plant Select.
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.
(Candelabra Spanish Sage) Tall, well-branched spikes display large two-tone blue flowers above a compact shrubby mass of attractive, furry white leaves. When in bloom, this compact, drought-resistant native of Spain will awe every visitor to your garden.
Candelabra Spanish Sage is a rare beauty that does well in warm, dry locations and blooms abundantly from mid-summer through fall. It does well as a compact container plant or can grow up to 6 feet tall in the ground. We also highly recommend it as a border plant and for cut-flower gardens.
(Greek Sage) Most of the dried culinary sage sold in the United States is Greek Sage. Frescoes on the island of Crete, dating to 1400 BC, depict this plant used by the Phoenicians and Greeks for cooking and medicine. It is an ancient and beloved friend of mankind.
In the garden, Greek Sage provides a pleasant lavender fragrance, especially on warm days, and has spikes of pink-to-lavender flowers. Similar to most culinary sages, it loves full sun and well-drained soil. However, it tolerates moist ground. This compact plant, which grows 24 inches tall and 18 inches wide, is a good choice for fragrant borders and patio containers as well as kitchen gardens.
Grow this drought-resistant, heat-tolerant plant in well-drained soil that is on the dry side. Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds will thank you with frequent visits.
Although some cooks find Salvia oficinalis culinary sages tastier, Salvia fruticosa is easier to grow. It comprises 50 to 95% of the commercial market. We think it offers an interesting change of taste.
(Wooly Multicolor Sage) In Greek, "lasiantha" means "wooly flower." The flowers of Salvia lasiantha are surrounded by wooly bracts, but are even more notable for transforming from apricot-orange in the morning to reddish-purple later in the day.
The bracts are also dramatic -- a fuzzy white overlaid with pink, orange, violet and cream. The large flower clusters bloom from mid-summer until the onset of cold weather. Large wrinkled foliage and white wooly stems are other distinctive features of this large, shrubby sage. All that wooliness helps this native of Mexico and Costa Rica to conserve moisture during drought and extreme heat.
At 5 feet tall and wide, this fragrant butterfly magnet makes a good screen, background planting or addition to a shrubby border. It can even be grown in a large patio container.
(Hot Lips Sage) What a winner for fascinating flowers! Hot Lips Sage has solid red, solid white and two-tone combinations all on the same plant and often at the same time. The variations are random. You might say that this shrubby sage is mixed-up, but its confused coloring makes it highly desirable.
The flowers, which primarily bloom in spring and fall, flower more during cool weather and when regularly watered and fertilized. We have never determined any reason for its color variations or any conditions that standardize their pattern.
This Mountain Sage has a tightly branched form. Often, it is covered with so many flowers that they seem to outnumber the small, green leaves.
Depending on local climate, Hot Lips works well in either a perennial or shrub border. It's a fine addition to a dry garden. We love and highly recommend this mountain treasure from Oaxaca, Mexico.
(Fruit Sage) Also known as Apple Sage, this is an extremely drought-resistant plant. Its common names come from the small round fruit-like galls that an insect creates on its branches on the island of Crete where it is native to dry slopes.
The galls develop when a small gallfly, also called a gall wasp, invades the sage's branches -- something that also happens to Salvia fruticosa in its Grecian homeland. Some people eat these tart-flavored galls raw and others use them to create a sweet conserve. Herbalists also use the leaves as a folk remedy, such as in tea.
However, in USDA Zones 8 to 10, this fragrant, heat-tolerant sage is simply an elegant shrub that must be grown in dry soil. Excess water during the growing season leads to a rapid demise. Salvia pomifera thrives in full sun, even in dry clay soils. Yet it prefers ground that drains well.
From summer into fall, its pale white-to-lavender flowers attract honeybees and butterflies to dry gardens. Use it as a groundcover on a slope, as part of a shrub border or an edging for sunny pathways.
This sage is not common in the United States. We are very happy to be able to recommend it to gardeners in hot, arid regions.
(Orange Mountain Sage) Coahuila, Mexico, is home to many fine Salvias, including the smallest variety of Salvia regla that we grow. This one averages about 3 feet tall and wide.
This fragrant, compact Salvia regla has tidy foliage and large, orange flowers that bloom from summer into fall in USDA Zones 7 to 10. The absolutely unique characteristic of this variety is its bright orange bracts that even turn the heads of longtime Salvia enthusiasts.
A native of the Chisos Mountains in Southwestern Texas and of Mexico from Coahuila to Oaxaca, Salvia regla is powerfully heat tolerant and fragrant. Although it appreciates average watering based on local conditions, the species does well in waterwise gardens. Give it full sun and well-drained soil. Grow it as a screen, shrub border or background plant. This is a favorite in native gardens and dry gardens.
Hummingbirds love this species, which has become an important nectar source for their southbound, autumn migration to the tropics. Butterflies also visit. So it's almost impossible to keep this plant in stock when in bloom.
NOTE: Theses are slow to propagate, and generally take at least 8 weeks for an appropriate plant to be grown.
(Cedar Sage) Scarlet flowers abound from spring through summer on this small, mounding, woodland sage that is native to Texas, Arizona and Northern Mexico. Grow it as a small scale groundcover or mix it with other shade-loving sages in a perennial border or along a path.
Native to Cedar, Juniper and Oak forests, this sage prefers partial shade and well-drained, acidic soil rich in organic matter. It does particularly well when mulched with the type of leaves found in its native forests. Although it likes regular watering based on local conditions, Cedar Sage does well in dry gardens.
This is a petite plant that only spreads about 12 inches wide. Yet if you plant a number of Salvia roemeriana in the right conditions, the plants will self seed and form colonies. We have never found it to be invasive.
(Venezuelan Red Sage) Purple stems and calyxes so dark that they almost look black contrast dramatically with the deep red-orange flowers of this South American beauty. This tall, spectacular sage has been in cultivation for decades but is still rare in gardens. We'd like to see that change.
The heavily textured leaves are large, growing about 4 inches long and 3 inches wide. They are hairy, which gives the foliage a silvery appearance. The flower spikes grow up to 2 feet tall.
This is a robust shrub that requires full sun to partial shade, average watering and rich, well-drained soil. Plant it in a prominent place so you can enjoy its long bloom throughout fall as well as the hummingbirds who use it regularly. At our farm its flowering synchronizes with the Dahlias. Garden uses include shrub borders, cut-flower gardens, background plantings and patio containers.
Rubescens refers to the reddish color of the flowers. This native of Venezuela was first described by Reinhard Gustav Paul Kunth in 1817.
Although we list this species for USDA Cold Hardiness Zones 9 to 11, we believe it may be hardy to Zone 8 winters if treated as an herbaceous perennial and well mulched.
(Scarlet Rooster Sage) From the Mountains of Mexico we have this stunning Sage, which seems never to be out of bloom. A superior hummingbird plant, the warm orange flowers that cover this shrubby perennial make it a standout in the garden.
Easy to grow, you can use this one as a background to lighter flowered plants, as a Summer hedge, or as a stunning container plant. We are amazed how popular these blooms are to our hummingbirds.
(John Whittlesey Sage) Hardy, vigorous and long blooming, John Whittlesey Sage is a hybrid of D'Arcy's Sage (Salvia darcyi) -- a native of Mexico -- and Mountain Sage (S. microphylla), which is native to the American Southwest and Mexico.
The long flowering season of this sage makes John Whittlesey Sage a garden favorite; it begins bursting with salmon-red blooms early in the growing season. You can grow it as a bedding plant in areas with winters cooler than those of USDA Zone 7. In warmer zones, this tidy sage is an herbaceous perennial.
In coastal areas, John Whittlesey Sage is a great stand-in for the plethora of little-leaf species -- Mountain Sage, Autumn Sage (S. greggii )and Jame Sage (S. x jamensis) -- that often struggle with humidity.
Hummingbirds love the bright red flowers of this full-sun, heat-tolerant plant that makes a tall but effective groundcover. However, it is generally used in mixed borders.
Horticulturist Mike Thiede of Chico, California, developed this sage and named it for John Whittlesey of Canyon Creek Nursery in Oroville, California.
(Silke's Dream Salvia) Large red-orange blossoms combine with heart-shaped, light green, heavily veined leaves in this large, long-blooming sage. It's a subshrub, which means it is a perennial that combines soft, herbaceous growth with some woodiness.
Horticulturist Art Petley discovered this accidental cross of Salvia darcyi and Salvia microphylla in an Austin, Texas, garden. Salvia microphylla is native to the American Southwest and grows throughout Mexico. In contrast, Salvia darcyi is from northeastern Mexico where Texas plant explorers Carl Schoenfeld and John G. Fairey of Yucca Do Nursery collected it in the Galeana area of Nuevo Leon.
Although not as cold tolerant as its related hybrid, Vermilion Bluffs® Mexican Sage (Salvia darcyi 'Pscarl'), Silke's Dream thrives in a broad range of USDA zones. It is a full-sun sage that tolerates heat and drought, but appreciates average watering based on your local conditions.
Trim back Silke's Dream after its first round of bloom for a reprise of profuse blossoms in autumn. Honeybees and hummingbirds love its nectar and pollen.
(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.