These are species whose stems never develop a woody character and that either die to the ground or loose leaves and become unsightly at the end of a growing season. This group includes both hardy and tender types. Many of the tender forms are grown as annuals in cold winter areas.
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.
During the spring and summer, you can completely cut to the ground any stems that have finished blooming and are becoming unsightly.
In mild climate areas, growth can be so rapid that the entire plant becomes messy and spent mid-way through the season. In this case, it can be cut back close to the ground – given a short “haircut”. The result usually is fresh, vigorous new growth and another round of flowering.
(Balkan Sage) Violet-blue whorls of flowers and plentiful, fuzzy, basal leaves that reach an impressive length of 18 inches are two notable features about this hardy, herbaceous perennial, which is native to the Southeastern Balkan Peninsula.
Balkan Sage is found in coniferous forests, meadows and slopes from Bulgaria to Turkey's Black Sea coast. However, it is named after the 19th century Finnish plant collector Peter Forsskål, who collected botanical samples further south in Saudi Arabia.
Although deciduous in areas with cold winters, it blooms about nine months a year for us on the Northern California coast beginning in summer. Following a brief winter dormancy, it returns reliably every spring, clumping in a way that makes it look like Hosta from a distance. Yet, unlike that woodland plant, it grows well in full sun as well partial shade. It is a fine choice for a lightly shaded garden or border and is happy in the acid soil under conifers.
Give it soil with average fertility, occasional water and enough shade to promote lush growth. Your reward will be large flowers with lovely white and yellow bee lines attractive to hummingbirds and honeybees.
(Pink Mexican Bush Sage) Although native to Mexico and Central America, this elegant variety of Salvia leucantha was hybridized in South Africa. It is compact, long blooming and profusely covered by soft pink flowers surrounded by velvety white bracts.
It is our experience that many of the plants sold under the name 'Danielle's Dream' are not the true variety. Also, to further the confusion, this variety of Mexican Bush Sage goes by many names. But this is the real thing.
Plant this drought-resistant, heat-tolerant sage in full sun. Use it in a shrubby border, a cut-flower garden or as a magnificently large container plant. Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds will show their appreciation by visiting regularly.
(Midnight Mexican Bush Sage) The typical Mexican Bush Sage has purple flowers surrounded by furry white bracts. This clone from the San Francisco Peninsula has deep purple flowers, calyxes and stems. It is a good groundcover due to a mounding habit, smaller size and generous amounts of flowers.
Similar to other Mexican Bush Sages, Midnight is pleasantly fuzzy. The hairiness helps protect this full sun, heat-tolerant sage against drought. Use this compact plant in shrubby borders and large containers. It is also a fine addition to a cut-flower garden, blooming from summer into fall.
Deer avoid this sage, but honeybees, hummingbirds and butterflies are drawn to it.
(Mexican Bush Sage or Velvet Sage) Large purple and white flowers bloom abundantly on this compact dwarf plant. If you love the rich colors and velvety foliage of Mexican Bush Sage but have limited space or need a container variety, this one is is for you.
'Purple Dwarf' is generally about half the size of Salvia leucantha 'Greenwood', but can grow much larger in ideal conditions. If we had the power to do so, we would not call this variety a dwarf. Grow it in a shrubby border, as a magnificent large container plant or as part of a cutting garden.
Similar to all members of it species, Purple Dwarf is heat tolerant, drought resistant and a favorite of butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds. Deer avoid it.
(Santa Barbara Mexican Bush Sage) This compact Mexican Bush Sage was found in the Santa Barbara garden of Kathiann Brown. It is, without a doubt, the finest short Mexican Bush Sage -- hardy, tough and long blooming. Add drought resistance and dark, rich purple flowers to its list of merits.
This heat-tolerant, full-sun sage makes a fine ground cover for areas large or small. it also looks lovely in perennial borders and containers. Expect plenty of honeybee, hummingbird and butterfly visits.
We suggest cutting Santa Barbara Mexican Bush Sage to the ground in the spring, so the fast growing white furry shoots will start blooming by mid-summer. It will continue blooming until frost, unless you live in a mild climate such as along the Northern California coast where it blooms 12 months a year.
(White Mischief Mexican Bush Sage) Profuse white blossoms and true white velvety bracts make the flowers of this South African hybrid a lovely choice for a wedding. In our experience, many of the plants sold as White Mischief are not the real thing. This tough, compact, long blooming sage is.
Although its flowers are white, we've noticed that hummingbirds love this Salvia leucantha, which blooms summer into fall. Butterflies are also partial to it, but luckily deer keep their distance.
Plant this heat-loving herbaceous perennial in full sun and well-drained soil. It is elegant in shrubby borders, large containers and cut-flower gardens.
(Red Sage, Chinese Sage, Dan-shen) The bright red, finger-like roots of Salvia miltiorrhiza have a long history in traditional Chinese herbal medicine. We offer this important plant on a limited basis.
WebMD reports that Danshen is used in Asia to treat a number of cardiovascular problems and "appears to thin the blood by preventing platelet and blood clotting." It is the subject of ongoing medical research.
Danshen has fragrant lavender flowers that bloom in summer and seem to glow in the shade. This woodland plant grows well in partial shade. It prefers rich, well-drained soil and can handle ample moisture. Native to Asia, including areas that experience winter chill, it grows well in USDA Zones 6 to 9.
This is a petite plant rising from 12 to 24 inches tall. Danshen looks lovely in mixed borders with Hostas and other woodland plants. It is also a fine choice for edging shady pathways where you can view it up close.
(Blue Angel Gentian Sage) Since the 1838 discovery of this herbaceous species from Central Mexico, Salvia patens has been a mainstay of the perennial garden. Blue Angel is one of the smallest of the full-sized varieties.
Well branched and compact, this variety has 2 1/2 inch flowers that are a deep, royal blue and bloom from summer into fall. It is a reliable perennial, returning year after year in Zones 8 to 11. However, it is so lovely that it is worth growing as a summer bedding plant in colder zones.
Blue Angel likes regular watering and rich, well-drained soil. It grows in full sun or partial shade and can handle moist corners of the yard. Use it as a path edging, border, groundcover or container plant.
British horticulturist Graham Stuart Thomas called Salvia patens "the best plant in cultivation."
Highly recommended by hummingbirds, but not by deer!
(Hidalgo or 7-UP Plant) I love to ask people what the smell of these leaves remind them of. Almost no one gets it on the first try, but when I say, "7 UP", their eyes light up, heads nod and the resounding answer is, "Yes!"
This mounding small perennial is native to shady mountain canyons in Arizona and Texas. The flowers glow on tall spikes above the furry, light green above, silvery underneath leaves. This is an outstanding perennial for shady spots. It can stand drought when established, but does very well with regular garden water. The apricot-coral flowers age to a reddish tint, and are quite long lasting. This plant blooms for us April - October!
This is another Salvia-like perennial that deserves much greater prominence in our gardens.
(Chiapas Sage) This partial-shade Salvia produces magenta flowers year round for us on the Mendocino Coast. It's compact, free flowering and not bothered by pests whether large or small. It is native to Mexico's coastal mountains at an elevation of 7,000 to 9,500 feet.
Chiapas Sage forms a neat mound of glossy, ribbed leaf-foliage with large flower spikes throughout. We grow it in mixed borders, containers and combination planters where it really stands out. Winter mulching it is essential in Zone 8 and below where you can treat this drought-resistant plant as a perennial.
(Michoacan Blue Sage) This unusual and distinctive Mexican sage grows from tuberous roots. It is compact and decidedly vertical with strong, square, winged stems that rocket upward and are topped with clusters of rich blue flowers in large rosy bracts come autumn.
In Zone 7 and above, you can leave the tubers in the ground or dig them up and divide them as you would dahlias to extend their growing range in your yard. Due to this plant's drought tolerance, we have been able to grow it without watering in summer. It needs full sun to partial shade and does well in containers, border plantings, cut-flower gardens and woodland-style gardens.
The identification and nomenclature of this plant have been confusing at best. However, one thing is certain: If you grow it, you'll love it!
(Marine Blue Sage) The name and origin of this fine cultivar has long been in dispute. It may be a clone or hybrid of the Mexican plant Salvia chamaedryoidesvar.isochroma. It is one of the prettiest, strongest sages we grow.
Our Marine Blue Sage blooms almost nonstop, producing long spikes of small dark blue flowers marked with bee lines that help lead pollinators into the blossoms. The leaves are small, wrinkled and wooly with silver-white tops and greenish undersides. In a sunny spot, the plant forms a tidy mat of ground cover 18 inches tall and 36 inches wide.
Grow Marine Blue Sage in hot, somewhat dry locations where you can see it up close. It's guaranteed to attract the eye. We predict that the popularity of this drought-resistant sage will increase as it becomes more widely known.
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.