(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.
(Chiapas Golden Fuchsia) Cool, moist and partially shady -- those are the conditions that this tall, rare shrub loves. Once native to the mountain cloud forests of Mexico's southernmost state, Chiapas, Golden Fuchsia in 1986 became extinct in the wild and now is primarily grown by botanical gardens.
Flowers by the Sea is one of the few commercial sources for this plant.
The glowing, yellow-to-orange trumpet flowers sometimes grow more than 2 inches long. They dangle in clusters from long, wiry, burgundy peduncles -- the stemlets that attach the flower clusters to the shrub's branches. The clusters look a bit like modern, chandelier-style lights. As the shape of the flowers indicates, this is a hummingbird favorite.
In the April-June 2000 issue of Pacific Horticulture, Huntington Gardens Curator Kathy Musial says that botanist Dr. Dennis Breedlove in 1972 discovered what would be identified more than a decade later as member of the shrub and tree genus Deppea. Breedlove found his mystery plant in a canyon on the south slope of Cerro Mozotal, a mountain in southern Chiapas.
Musial notes that Breedlove never found the plant elsewhere in the wild. Luckily, he and Brad Bartholomew were able to collect seed in 1981, because the stand of Golden Fuchsia disappeared within five years when the land was cleared for farming.
Although the foggy summers of San Francisco's climate appeal to Golden Fuchsia, a partially shady environment helps it to thrive at Southern California's Huntington, which aided the original distribution of the plant. Our plants are from a variety at San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum.
Golden Fuchsia isn't a member of the Fuchsia genus, which is a member of the evening primrose family (Onagraceae). Deppea species are members of the coffee family (Rubiaceae). Give it rich, well-drained soil and plenty of water.
This is a challenging plant to cultivate, but it is beautiful and in danger of totally disappearing. Helping it to survive is rewarding.
(Chinese Yellow Banana) Found in the wild in the Yunnan Province of China, this plant is closely related to the more common (and tender) genus Ensete. The exceptional flower heads, which are featured all summer long, set it apart. Like something cast in glistening yellow porcelain, these are tucked into the broad, short, blue-green leaves where they look to me like surreal bird nests.
What a fab accent plant in a patio or entrance way! They like wet, rich soil and full sun. They act just like a herbaceous perennial, dieing to the ground in the winter and quickly regrowing when it warms. Container culture is possible in large pots. We use them in mixed borders, just for fun.
(Rococo Rosebud Geranium) This old German variety is a hybrid between a Zonal Geranium (Pleargonium x hortorum) and an Ivy Gernaium (P. pendulata). The rich pink flowers are very double and up to 2 1/2 inches across. The flower clusters can grow as large as a cantaloupe! This is a rare and highly desirable plant.
We find that this variety only does well in large containers, where it gracefully spills over the sides, or in the ground. It is relatively slow growing, and must get to a moderate size before the blooms reach their full potential.
As with all of our Pelargoniums, these are large, strong plants.
(Cinnabar Sage) Think of this plant as Pineapple Sage on steroids. It grows 5 feet tall and wide in full sun and bursts with large, furry, cinnabar red flowers all winter. Our overwintering hummingbirds adore it. This sage is hard to forget once you see it in full bloom.
Coming from the cloud forests of Southern Mexico, this species is a great choice for woodland-style gardens where it can spread out and poke its long stems up here-and-there. In partial shade, it is a rambler that forms an attractive screen. Cinnabar Sage responds well to feeding and watering, but is not delicate. It is well worth growing if you live in a mild climate.
(Gravid Sage) This tender perennial from Michoacán, Mexico, has large, rich magenta flowers that hang from the arching branches in clusters up to 12 inches long. Growing up to 5 feet tall, this sage offers an unforgettable display when in bloom.
"Gravid" means "with child," and a plant loaded with it's full inflorescence does bring a pregnant woman to mind. Grow this dazzling sage against a wall or trellis. Give it full sun or partial shade as well as rich, well-drained soil and ample water.
Consider Gravid Sage for border, background and container plantings.
(Violet Calyx Sage) Here's another abundantly blooming sage from the cloud forest slopes of Chiapas, Mexico. Violet beelines mark the lower lip of the crimson blossoms, which are so numerous that it can be difficult to see the foliage at times.
Bloom time is autumn into winter in Zones 9 to 11. The 2-inch-long, netted leaves have purple undersides, making this plant attractive even when not in bloom. Well branched and compact, it has an attractive fountain shape that makes it work well as an accent plant. Violet Calyx Sage also looks good in a large patio container. Give this water-loving species rich, well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade.
One last bit of buzz: Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds -- especially ones hanging out for the winter in warm climates -- love this plant. Fortunately, deer don't.
(Shelby Hardy Gloxinia) Shelby's long, tubular, creamy pink flowers dangle from apple-green, leaf-like calyxes. Fuzzy red petioles connect the flowers to deep red stems rising above rich green foliage. This Suncrest Nurseries hybrid of two South American species can handle a bit of winter chill.
Hummingbirds enjoy gloxinias. By planting Shelby Hardy Gloxinia and other hummingbird favorites in a setting devised for close-up observation, you have a front-row seat for hummer antics during the growing season. It's a fine choice for a patio planter or rock garden.
The flower tubes of gloxinias are referred to as having fused petals. Some, such as Shelby's white-flowered, hybrid parent Sinningia incarnata, are barrel-shaped similar to a cigar-style Cuphea. Others, such as Shelby and its second parent plant, the red-flowered species S. tubiflora, have lacy corollas at their openings. Similar to most Sinningias, Shelby's roots are tuberous.
The elliptical, veined leaves are also interesting due to being smooth with a slightly pitted texture and having fine eyelash hairs on their edges.
This is a petite perennial that prefers rich, well-drained soil and locations with full sun to partial shade. As part of the Sinningia genus, it's a member of the Gesneriad family (Gesneriaceae), which is probably best known for African Violets (Saintpaulia genus).
Sinningias are named for Willhelm Sinning (1792-1874) who was a gardener at Germany's University of Bonn Botanical Garden. Sinning co-authored the 1825 book A Collection of Beautiful Flowering Plants, which contained one of the first botanical illustrations of a gloxinia.
(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.
Planting a hummingbird garden filled with nectar-rich, long-blooming Salvias aids preservation of hummingbird species that migrate each year throughout North America. It also gives you a front-row seat to a fascinating aerobatics show. Backyard islands of colorful sages are like gas stations for hummingbirds' long-distance journeys. Salvias can keep your garden whirring with the helicopter-like flight of hummingbirds from spring through autumn and -- in warm climates -- into winter.
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.