(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.
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.
(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.
(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.
(Byron's Mexican Sage) One of our favorite Mexican Sages, this large variety is reputed to be a hybrid between Salvia mexicana and S. hispanica -- a species of Chia Sage.
Byron's Mexican Sage grows up to 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Its large, fall-blooming flowers are deep violet with bi-color calyxes that are bright green with dark purple streaks. Hummingbirds and honeybees love the blossoms.
Unlike its parent species, this plant is fragrant. It's also the strongest growing and longest blooming type of S. mexicana that we grow.
We have found this variety to be exceptionally drought resistant, but it does best with regular watering. It also appreciates rich, well-drained soil. Grow this perennial as an accent, screen or part of a tall border. We've voted it our very best Salvia mexicana.
(Royal Purple Autumn Sage) Salvia muelleri is related both to Autumn Sage (S. greggii) and Mountain Sage (S. microphylla), which are closely related species.
This tough plant is a hybrid that occurred in the wild. Similar to both parent species, it is at its best in fall when it bursts with intensely purple flowers.
Royal Purple Autumn Sage is small leafed and densely branched. It is a small shrub in USDA Zones 8 and 9, but an herbaceous perennial in Zone 7. The soft look of this sage's foliage looks pretty at the edge of pathways, in mixed borders or in containers where it can be enjoyed close up.
Native to the mountains of Monterrey, Mexico, this sage is well adapted to dry conditions. However, it also responds well to regular watering. While not picky about type of soil, it needs good drainage.
Full sun or partial shade both work for Royal Purple, but remember to restrict watering in shady locations. Otherwise lots of growth and few flowers will be the rule. Peak bloom is in the fall, but flowering occurs on and off beginning in spring.
Try this plant with Salvia x jamensis 'Golden Elk' for an amazing color combo.
(Italian Clary Sage) Clary Sages are well known for their use in folk remedies, aromatherapy and cosmetics. Glowing purple bracts frame the spectacular white blooms of this cultivar on 5-foot-tall spikes. It is a delight for honeybees and butterflies.
The foot-long hairy leaves of this rosette-forming herbaceous perennial are striking for their symmetry and dark petioles.
Flowering begins in early summer; if you remove the spent spikes, bloom time continues until close to fall. Use Italian Clary Sage in perennial borders and background plantings.
The key to long-term success with this ancient species is to never allow seed to form. Pruning the spikes is a difficult choice, because the bracts are so showy. However, failure to do so results in a short -lived plant. The cut stems look pretty in flower arrangements.
Give this plant full sun and well-drained soil. Although it is drought resistant and works well in dry gardens, this sage responds well to average watering based on local conditions.
Clary Sage is native to Europe. It was one of the first Salvias described by the Ancient Greeks, who used it medicinally to make eye washes and other remedies. Although some gardeners disagree, our noses know that this plant's heady aroma is a blessing in the garden.
We highly recommend this plant as the best variety of its species.
(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.
(Pine Mountain Sage) Small but numerous, violet and deep purple flowers surrounded by pink bracts are sprinkled throughout this well-branched,shrubby sage like confections. This is one of the showiest Salvias we grow.
Pine Mountain Sage blooms from summer into fall and is a treat for honeybees and hummingbirds. It's native to Chiapas, Mexico, where it grows on the edge of pine forests in rocky soil. In the U.S., it is hardy to USDA Zones 8 with protection into 11 and blooms from summer into fall.
As with most Salvias, this one requires well-drained soil and likes it rich. Although drought tolerant, it appreciates average watering based on local conditions. Full sun is another necessity for maximum development. Average growth is 3 to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Yet when conditions are perfect, it can grow into a 6-foot mound.
Small, triangle-shaped, gray-green leaves make this shrub attractive even when not in flower. Spring pruning of its woody branches keeps it compact and floriferous.
Grow Pine Mountain Sage as a large scale groundcover, border, screen or container plant. It excels in dry gardens, and is worth growing as a summer annual in zones outside its temperature range. No need to worry about deer; they avoid it.
(Waverly Sage) A pale pink to lavender blush adds delicate color to the white flowers of Waverly Sage, which are supported by plum-colored calyxes. Its mid-green leaves are lance shaped and veined.
This is a tender, woody shrub that may remain evergreen or an herbaceous perennial that dies to ground, depending on the winter temperatures where you live.
First called "Mark's Mystery White," this long-blooming, sun-loving plant that can tolerate some shade. It appears to be related to Mexican Bush Sage (S. leucantha), but it's likely we'll never know all the details of its heritage.
Waverly Sage has a fountain-like form with long stems that rise up from the base and then arch downward. Height varies depending, once again, on local growing conditions. On our farm, it tends to reach about four feet high and six feet wide. However, it does well in a large container.
Deer avoid this shrub, which is popular with butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds. Heat tolerant and drought resistant, it is a great choice for dry landscapes.
(Wooly Multicolor Sage) In Greek, "lasiantha" means "wooly flower." The flowers of Salvia lasiantha are surrounded by wooly bracts, but are even more notable for transforming from apricot-orange in the morning to reddish-purple later in the day.
The bracts are also dramatic -- a fuzzy white overlaid with pink, orange, violet and cream. The large flower clusters bloom from mid-summer until the onset of cold weather. Large wrinkled foliage and white wooly stems are other distinctive features of this large, shrubby sage. All that wooliness helps this native of Mexico and Costa Rica to conserve moisture during drought and extreme heat.
At 5 feet tall and wide, this fragrant butterfly magnet makes a good screen, background planting or addition to a shrubby border. It can even be grown in a large patio container.
(Snowflake Sage) Wiry, trailing stems of small white leaves make this plant look like fresh snowfall. Numerous, small, sky blue flowers with prominent bee lines further add to the cooling look. This dry-garden plant is native to the mountains of the Chihuahuan desert of North Central Mexico.
Just 6 inches tall and spreading to 36 inches, this is a perfect ground cover. However, we like it best spilling over the edge of a mixed planter or in a hanging basket. It can take a bit of shade in hot areas, but is at its best in full sun. Plant it in rich, well drained soil.
We suspect that this species may be hardy in the warmest parts of Zone 6 when planted in very well-drained soil and winter mulched. We highly recommend it.
Depending on where you live, September may be a time to keep busy planting perennial Salvias or to hunker-down and plan garden recovery following storm damage. Each month, FBTS publishes a list of tips suggesting ways to maintain and beautify your Salvia garden. New plantings and transplanting of sages in autumn works well; dividing or pruning them doesn't.
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.