(Shaggy Chiapas Sage) This is a sweetheart! Glowing magenta flowers lure the eye as well as hummingbirds to this heat-tolerant sage. It begins blooming in late summer where weather is warm and in fall where it is cooler.
This compact shrub from Chiapas, Mexico, has heavily textured leaves and is attractive even when not in bloom.
Reports from colder areas suggest that this Zone 9-to-11 plant may be suitable for Zone 8. Even if you grow it as an annual, you will be very impressed by the large clusters of 1-inch, furry, bright flowers.
This is an adaptable plant, which grows in full sun or partial shade and does well in containers and shrubby borders. We highly recommend it as one of the strongest hummingbird magnets we grow.
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.
(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.
(Congo Cockatoo) Busy Lizzie this is not! Vivid candy-corn colors and nectar spurs arched similar to cockatoo beaks make Impatiens niamniamensis 'African Queen' an unusual sight.
Except for its glossy, deep green, veined leaves, you might not identify this unusual plant as being related to the flat-petaled Impatiens walleriana that began taking over the shade in home gardens beginning in the 1950s. Congo Cockatoo comes from the flashier side of the family.
This tall Impatiens has dark succulent stems. As the stems darken and thicken over time, it begins to look like a tiny tree.
Congo Cockatoo was first collected in South Sudan where the Niam-Niam tribe live and once practiced cannibalism. It's one of about 1,000 Impatiens species and is native to a broad swath of Central Africa from Kenya west to Cameroon. In the U.S., it grows best as a houseplant or in patio containers in warm-winter areas.
Similar to many members of its genus, this is a long-blooming plant. It tolerates heat, but needs lots of water as well as partial to full shade. For in-ground planting, this is one to consider if you live in a hot, humid area and have damp shady spots in your yard.
(Friendship Sage) Thank you Rolando Uria of the University of Buenos Aries for this very fine plant. Discovered in 2005 at a plant show in Argentina, this truly unique hybrid sage has generated a great deal of excitement in the Salvia world. We are happy to be able to offer this plant which we test grew in 2012 for sale in the Spring of 2013.
Growing to about four feet tall, this variety starts blooming when very small and never stops. Large rich royal purple flowers are highlighted dark bracts - all displayed on many-flowered inflorescence. The foliage is something like S. guarantica and something like S. mexicana, but it's true origins are unknown.
According to Rolando (pictured here at the Salvia Summit II in March 2013) this plant is replacing Salvia guarantica in the gardens of Buenos Aires. It resembles some of the purple Anise Scented Sages, but is an absolutely unique plant.
A true hummingbird magnet, use this fine plant as a specimen, in mass for bedding, in a container or in the perennial border. The true temperature hardiness of Amistad is still imperfectly understood, but the plant has handled 20 degree weather for us.
Whether you call it a shrub or a tree, Salvia arborscens rises up to an impressive 12 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Commonly known as Sage Tree, this Salvia grows well in full sun, but prefers partial shade.
It is the size of this plant more than its floral display that is its main attraction. Cream to yellow and tiny, each flower has long, graceful anthers that extend far beyond its corolla. The foliage is bright green to forest green with lance-shaped leaves.
Sage Tree works well as a screen or background planting In rich, well-drained soil. It also looks handsome in shrubby borders and is a good solution for moist areas of the yard. You can even grow it in a large container, but expect it to rise to a shorter height than it would in the ground. Deer mostly avoid Salvias, so this is one tree they likely won’t nibble on.
Swedish botanist Erik Ekman collected Salvia arborscens during the 1920s in the Caribbean. Commonly known as Sage Tree, it was one of more than 2,000 species that he introduced to science during his 14 years of research in Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic’s Partners for Rural Health organization notes that the leaves are used as a folk remedy for diarrhea. However, it warns that they may be dangerously narcotic. So don’t cook with this sage.
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.
(Red Velvet Sage) Reaching up to 18 inches tall, the floral spikes of this exotic looking Salvia are crowded with small, velvety, orange-red blossoms from mid-summer to late autumn. Its large, dark green, pebbly leaves are beautiful in their own right, making this one of our favorite sages.
Red Velvet Sage is native to Central and South America. In mild climates, it can grow up to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. So sheltering it from the wind -- by staking or situating it near plants that provide support -- is necessary to prevent breakage of the heavy, red tinged stems.
We have found that deep, weekly watering, an occasional light feeding of multipurpose fertilizer and heavy pruning in late winter or early spring keep this dramatic plant looking its best. One reward for this care is excellent stems for cut flower arrangements.
(Columbian Mountain Sage) Deep purple bracts support the small, lighter purple flowers of Salvia cuatrecasana -- a rare Colombian sage. White beelines mark the flowers of this long-blooming shrub, which is a hummingbird favorite.
According to South American plant explorer Rolando Uria, the rarity of this sage is due, in part, to its limited native habitat. Also known as Colombian Mountain Sage, it is endemic to the Andes in Colombia's northern department (state) of Boyaca. It is particularly at home in scrublands and on banks of streams.
Uria notes that Colombian sages are known for their attractive foliage. The fragrant leaves of this heat-tolerant sage are large, glossy and deeply veined.
Salvia cuatrecasana loves water, but does fine with average watering. Give it full sun to partial shade and rich, well-drained soil.
In 1944, Botanist Carl Epling (1894-1968) named it for botanist José Cuatrecasas (1903-1996), who collected the plant four years earlier in Boyaca.
Cuatrecasas specialized in South American plant research for the Smithsonian Institution beginning in 1955.
(Southern Mexican Sage) With its graceful, shrubby habit, purplish green leaves and intense tomato-red blooms, this herbaceous perennial makes a delightful display in your garden. It begins blooming in October and continues sporadically through the winter and into spring in frost-free areas.
Collected by Strybing Arboretum botanists in the late 1980s, it is native to high elevations (7,500-11,000 ft.) in the Mexican provinces of Oaxaca and Chiapas as well as in Guatemala. This is a true cloud-forest sage that best loves a planting location with morning sun and afternoon shade.
For a medium-size plant with pleasing proportions by bloom time, cut stems back to a few inches above the ground in early spring. You'll be pleased to know that although honeybees and hummingbirds love this sage, deer don't.
(Big Mexican Scarlet Sage) This heavily blooming Salvia from Mexico has heart-shaped leaves and spectacular flower spikes up to 18 inches long from winter through spring. The blooms are bright red-orange with rich purple-black calyxes and stems.
Give this sage full sun and plenty of room, because it grows up to 10 feet tall and almost as wide. It needs protection from strong winds and rains that can cause the heavily laden, woody branches to break.
This variety of Salvia gesneriiflora often is called "Tequila" in reference to its scientific name. In 1970, botanists from Southern California's Huntington Botanical Gardens collected seed from the parent plant on the Volcan de Tequila in the Mexican Province of Jalisco.
One of the showiest Salvias we grow, Tequila also is one of our very best hummingbird plants. It's popular with butterflies and honeybees as well, whereas deer avoid it. Use it as a screen, background planting or border.
(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.
(Karwinski's Sage) From moist mountain areas in Mexico and Central America, this rugged, winter-blooming shrub is found in oak or pine forests at altitudes of 4,000 to 8,000 feet. This may account for this winter bloomer's ability to produce some bright, brick-red flowers even during short periods of freezing weather with temperatures as low as 20 degrees F.
Speaking of color, the reds of Karwinski's Sage vary, but hummingbirds love them all. This variety was originally collected by the San Francisco Botanical Garden.
The plant's leaves are pebbly and large -- up to 6 inches long -- with cream-colored hairs on the underside. Size is another dramatic aspect of this plant, which can grow up to 10 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Due to this generous size, it helps to plant Karwinski's Sage in a spot where it is protected against chill and winds. A south-facing wall is ideal. It makes a good screen or background planting, but can also be grown in a large patio container.
To encourage upright, compact growth, periodically remove some of the flowering branches. Or you can prune the plant down to a few active growth nodes once a year at the end of its winter flowering season when it appears there will be no more frost.
This sage is named for German botanist Baron Wilhelm Friedrich Karwinski von Karvin who explored Mexico in the early 19th century.
(Pink & White Wagner's Sage) Instead of pink, leaf-life bracts, this variety of Wagner's Sage has white bracts surrounding the hot pink flowers. It blooms from November to March on our coastal Northern California farm where it feeds Anna's hummingbirds all winter long.
Come snow, ice or temperatures as low as 20 degrees, it keeps on blooming.
This tall Salvia is a sub-shrub, which means that it has both woody and soft herbaceous perennial growth. It comes from the cloud forests of Southern Mexico and Central America where it grows at elevations of up to 6,500 feet.
Averaging about 6 feet tall and wide, Wagner's Sage can easily grow 10 feet tall and wide if conditions are right. You can keep it more compact by pruning in mid to late summer before the large, prolific blossoms emerge on foot-long flower spikes. They rise up amid equally dramatic, bright green leaves that are triangular and soft as felt.
Give it space, rich, well-drained soil and average to ample watering in full sun to partial shade. Plant it at the back of shrub borders and cut-flower gardens. This is an ideal plant for moist woodland gardens in USDA Zones 8 to 11.
The species was named by 19th century plant explorer Helmuth Polakowsky (1847-1917) of Germany, who specialized in Central American flora. Although we aren't certain, it is likely that he named it for his somewhat older contemporary Moritz Wagner (1813-1887), a friend of Charles Darwin and a botanist who is especially well known for his exploraration of Costa Rica.
PLEASE NOTE: Our best picture of this plant in bloom disappeared during a computer snafu. This picture doesn't do justice to the contrast between the flowers and their ethereal white bracts. So here is a link to a picture in the Cabrillo College Salvia collection.
Highly recommended by honeybees!
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.