Available March to June only.
(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.
(Himalayan Gloxinia) Delicate, pink, trumpet blossoms with flared corollas top mid-green foliage on reddish-green stems. This tough, long-blooming plant is native to the Himalayas. Plant hunter Chris Chadwell collected our seeds in Nepal.
Arguta refers to the sharply notched edges of this gloxinia's glossy leaves. The genus name Incarvillea honors the Jesuit missionary, Pierre Nicolas Le Chéron d'Incarville (1706-1757), whose plant exploration in China initiated the worldwide popularity of many Chinese plants, including gloxinias.
The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies notes that d'Incarville was part of a group of advisors invited to China by Emperor Qianlong in 1739 to help cultivate European plants in his "Garden of Perfect Brightness." D'Incarville wasn't a formally trained botanist, but studied at the Paris Jardin du Roi for six months before leaving France for China, the country where he would eventually die.
Although Himalayan Gloxinia can tolerate weak fertility, it grows best in rich garden soil with full sun to partial shade. A location with morning sun and afternoon shade is best in areas with hot summers. Incarvillea arguta thrives with average watering based on local rainfall and loves supplemental watering as long as its soil doesn't become soggy.
Sometimes called Chinese Trumpet Flower, Himalayan Gloxinia is a reliable understory plant that also thrives in containers.
Tropical Sage is popular as an annual throughout America and as a perennial in warm zones. It is particularly beloved in the Deep South where it withstands heat, wind, heavy rains and excessive humidity to bloom prolifically season after season. Brenthurst is a coral-flowered cultivar with dramatic, dark bracts and bright green, heart-shaped leaves.
The Desert Botanical Garden of Houston reports that goldfinch enjoy eating the seed of Salvia coccinea. It’s also a favorite with hummingbirds, honeybees and butterflies. Fortunately, deer don’t have a taste for it.
Tropical Sage -- also known as Scarlet Sage -- is native to the American South, Mexico, West Indies and South America. It loves water, but is also drought tolerant; it withers then rebounds following dry spells. Brenthurst, which looks somewhat similar to Coral Nymph Tropical Sage, blooms from spring into fall. A petite plant, it rises up only 12 to 30 inches tall and spreads 18 inches wide. Use it in borders, containers and moist areas.
(Blue Black Mexican Sage) This spectacular and hardy native of Central Mexico is exciting to watch as new growth shoots upward rapidly from its root stock in spring. Its large, vibrant, purple-blue flowers bloom for about 10 months and are profuse from late autumn through winter on flower spikes up to 20 inches long.
Calyxes similar in color to the flowers they cup give this sage its scientific name, which means “of the same color.” Easy to grow in a partial shade location, this woodland plant is sometimes mistaken for Salvia guaranitica. However, it is a different species.
Blue Black Mexican Sage works well up against a fence or building that offers morning sun and afternoon shade as well as protection from wind. Plant it as a shrubby border, screen or container plant. It's ideal for moist areas.
(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.
This is our second article in a Quick Digs series about preparing for spring in Salvia (sage) gardens. It's easier to succeed at almost anything if you make plans and set goals before beginning a project. This is certainly true in Salvia gardening. Creating a gardening calendar ensures greater success in planning.
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.
Fragrance as well as color attracts butterflies. However, they don't have noses. Instead, butterflies smell and taste with their antennas and feet. Here are some ways to attract them:
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.