(Scandent Mexican Sage) Here's another winter-blooming hummingbird magnet for gardens in mild climates. This one is scandent, which means it is a climber and needs support. Its abundant, magenta-to-purple flowers are velvety and 6 inches long.
Flowering begins in autumn with peak bloom during mild, sunny weather either in December or January. Although Salvia iodantha survives at 20 degrees F, blooming decreases if temperatures fall below 25 degrees F for days at a time. On our coastal, Northern California farm, it blooms through the worst winter storms.
This shrubby sage tolerates partial shade but needs full sun for at least 6 hours a day. It also requires deep watering weekly, shelter from strong winds and well-drained, loamy soil. Growing 6 feet tall and wide, it is an excellent screen or background planting on which deer are unlikely to nibble.
These are species that grow as woody shrubs and keep their foliage year round.
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.
(Autumn Purple Sage) Small but numerous, the flowers of this sage are a variable shade of light purple that is unlike any other we grow. Native to Southern Mexico and Guatemala, this shrub regularly grows up to 5 feet tall (or taller) and 4 feet wide.
The light yellow-green leaves of Salvia purpurea brighten a shaded garden. Similar to Scandent Mexican Sage (Salvia iodantha), the flowers of Autumn Purple Sage have a translucent quality. The two species form a pretty, blended clump when grown together. However, Autumn Purple tolerates shade better than Scandent Mexican Sage .
This fragrant, heat-tolerant shrub grows well in USDA Zones 9 to 11. It blooms from summer into fall, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.
Give this sage rich, well drained soil. It thrives with average watering based on local conditions, but is a water lover. Try it in damp parts of the yard or moist woodland gardens. It works well as a screen, background planting or part of a shrub border and looks lovely in flower arrangements.
This rare, colorful Salvia should be in wider use.
(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.