(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 producing a few bright red flowers during short periods of freezing weather with temperatures as low as 20 degrees F.
Speaking of color, the flowers of Karwinski's Sage vary from rose red and scarlet to brick red. Hummingbirds love them all. Our clone is a clear, hot, orange red.
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.
(Cinnabar Sage) Think of this plant as Pineapple Sage on steroids. It grows 5 feet tall and can be twice as wide in a good spot 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.
(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.
(Cardinal Sage) Aptly named for its cardinal red, 2-inch-long flowers that glisten in the autumn sun, this full-sun sage blooms from fall into winter. Hummingbirds love it, but deer resist its charms.
Cardinal Sage is another Salvia of uncertain nomenclature. Some sources identify it as Salvia fulgens, while others say it is Salvia cardinalis or S. fulgens var. cardinalis.
In any case, this lovely late bloomer is a plant to appreciate during a mild winter when other species have finished showing off. Growing up to 5 feet tall, it makes a fine screen.
Cardinal Sage is native to elevations up to 11,000 feet in Central Mexico. It is a shrub in Zones 8 and 9 or an herbaceous perennial in Zone 7. Plant it in a warm spot with fertile, well-drained soil. Although it loves water, it also does well in dry conditions. We highly recommend this adaptable beauty.
(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.
(Winter Mexican Sage) Call it the Snow Queen! From fall through spring, this graceful, colorful sage blooms through 20 degree F weather despite snow and ice. It has lovely, triangular, dark green leaves and profuse clusters of tubular, cinnabar-red flowers that puff out in the center.
in our coastal, Northern California garden, it often blooms from October through April and sometimes shoots up a few flower spikes in summer. Winter Mexican Sage is native to a wide territory from Chaipas, Mexico, to Guatemala where it grows at 3,000 to 9,000 feet in mixed pine and oak forests. It particularly appreciates locations with morning sun and afternoon shade. Use it as a mid-height groundcover, border plant or woodland garden highlight.
In colder climates treat this sage as a subshrub that dies back to the ground similar to an herbaceous perennial. Here on the edge of Zone 8 and 9, it is a shrub that can become large unless pruned. However, it's well worth the time spent trimming.
(Hadspen Roseleaf Sage) If you plant this sage in a mild-climate area where hummingbirds overwinter, you'll likely find hummers zinging back and forth among its magenta pink blossoms from fall through spring.
In the hottest climates, Hadspen Roseleaf Sage requires a bit of deep shade. It appreciates average to rich soil and regular watering. This is the largest variety of the species that we cultivate. Sometimes growing more than 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, it makes a fine screen or background planting, such as at the back of borders.
This is our largest Roseleaf Sage and is of uncertain origin. It may have been collected in Mexico by New Mexico's Mesa Garden nursery or it may be a garden hybrid. This is the plant recognized by this name in the horticultural trade.
Plant this Salvia where you want to make a bold statement. We like to pair it with Salvia mexicana varieties for contrasting color and foliage.
(Hidalgo Roseleaf Sage) The earliest flowering, hardiest and strongest growing cultivar of its species, Hidalgo Roseleaf Sage starts blooming in June on the Northern California coast. It continues into spring, becoming more spectacular every day, unless cut down by hard frost. In our mild climate, it never stops blooming some years.
This Salvia involucrata requires a bit of high shade in the hottest climates. It also appreciates rich soil and regular watering. Hidalgo differs from Salvia involucrata 'Bethellii' in having stems that are more lax and an earlier bloom time.
Thanks go to North Carolina Salvia guru Richard Dufresne, who collected this plant in Mexico.
Growing up to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, it makes a fine screen or background planting, such as at the back of borders.
Use this sage where you want a bold, strong statement. We like to pair it with Salvia mexicana varieties for contrasting color and foliage and the ornamental grass Stipa arundinacea 'Sirocco.'
(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!
Differentiating between the plants in a closely related group can feel similar to being an outsider attending a large family reunion. Identifying who's who and how they are connected is a challenge. That's the way it is with Mexico's Roseleaf Sage (Salvia involucrata) Group, which is well loved by hummingbirds. One thing that may be confusing about the various cultivars and hybrids in the group is their abundance of puffy, tubular, magenta flowers. FBTS Online Plant Nursery grows a number of species from the group. Read more to learn about the randy Roseleaf Sage Group that hybridizes freely and includes many species that bloom in in 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.
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.