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Salvia leucocephala


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Salvia leucocephala




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Special Order Plant
Special Order Plant
This plant is available by Special Order. Click here for additional information.
Degree of Difficulty
Challenging
Degree of Difficulty
This plant is can be challenging to grow in conditions outside those in which it is found in the wild.

Shipping Information
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Description

(White Headed Sage) One of the most visually stunning members of the genus, this large growing, tender, winter blooming species from the mountains of Ecuador will turn every head with its furry white calyxes and brilliant magenta red flowers.

We've found this rare plant does well with full sun, rich well drained soil and ample water.  It does not seem to like overly moist conditions, and excelent drainage is a key factor, as is moderately warm growing conditions.   As it is a winter bloomer and quite tender, please make sure that you can supply the appropriate conditions for this species before ordering.  We rate it as "Challenging" to successfully grow.  It may be adapted to other cultural regimes, but there is so little experiance with this plant in horticulture that we are sticking with what we know to be sucessful.  It is found in dry shrubland with sub-surface water sourcesin the wild, something to consider when making plant care decisions.

The IUCN lists this specias as "Vulnerable", the classification just below "Endangered".

Many thanks to our friend Dr. Richard Dufresne of supplying us with our original stock of this special plant.

 

Details

Product rating
 
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Special Order Item  
Out of stock

Common name  
White Headed Sage
USDA Zones  
9 - 11
Size (h/w/fh)  
48"+/48"+/60"+
Exposure  
Full sun
Soil type  
Rich and well drained
Water needs  
Average
Pot size  
3 1/2 inch deep pot
Container plant?  
Yes
Our price
15.00

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Here are some guidelines for success with this plant in your garden.
Click on an individual icon for more detailed information.

Exposure

Full sun
Full sun

Garden Uses

Container plant
Container plant

Growing Habit

9 - 11
9 - 11
48 inches tall+
48 inches tall+
48 inches wide+
48 inches wide+
Perennial
Perennial
Shrub
Shrub

Water Needs

Average water
Average water

Blooming Season

Winter blooming
Winter blooming

Wildlife

Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds

Colors

Salvias and their companion plants pop with color. Sweep your eyes from top to the bottom here for an impression of this plant's color combinations. The first row displays blossoms from primary to less dominant shades and includes any contrasting throat color. The second tier is the main hue of leaf-like bracts or calyxes supporting the flowers. Foliage (one or two colors) leafs out in the bottom row.
Primary color - Deep Purplish Red
RHS# 61A






Throat color - Very Pale Purple - RHS# 97D




Secondary color - Strong Purplish Red
RHS# 61B



Bract color - Strong Yellowish Green
RHS# 144C

Leaf color - Strong Yellowish Green
RHS# 144A



Learn more about how we analyze plant colors
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See other plants with split complementary colors
See other plants with triadic colors
Ready for some pruning?

Deciduous, woody stem Salvias

These are species that produce woody stems, but die back to the ground in the winter in all but the warmest climates. In warm winter areas these can become woody shrubs, but they generally benefit from the following pruning methods.

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.

Growing Season Pruning

During the spring and summer, you can completely or partially remove any stems that have finished blooming and are becoming unsightly. This often stimulates fresh new growth and increased flowering


Dormant Season Pruning

At the end of the growing season or after first frost, spent stems can be cut to the ground. Some gardeners in cold winter climates say that leaving 3 to 6 inches of the stems intact during the winter improves survivability. They remove the remaining stems before new growth begins in the spring. In warmer areas the stems may never completely die back, but should be cut to ground to allow for new growth.


Check the Views from the Garden section of our Everything Salvias Blog for videos that apply to this plant.

  • Salvia cinnabarina

    (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.

    11.50
  • Salvia concolor

    (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.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia confertiflora

    (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.

    10.50
  • Salvia dombeyi

    (Giant Bolivian Sage) Hailing from Peru and Bolivia, this tender specimen is found at altitudes of 9,000 feet in the wild. This multi-stemmed, woody-based, climbing Salvia needs support. Hummingbirds love its 5-inch-long, crimson flowers, which are the longest grown by any Salvia and flower from late summer through autumn.

    In frost-free zones and with support, such as a trellis or not-too-hot wall, Giant Bolivian Sage can reach nearly 20 feet in height. In most gardens, it will grow 6 to 8 feet in a season. It prefers filtered sun or a combination of morning sun and afternoon shade. Fast-draining, loamy soil is another requirement.

    This rare selection always sells out quickly and wins our commendation as our best climbing, flowering sage.

    Red was a sacred color in Ancient Incan culture. The red blossoms of various flowers were prized, including Giant Bolivian Sage, Salvia oppositiflora and Salvia tubiflora. They were used as part of religious ceremonies intended to appease various gods, including mountain dieties who the Incans believed were the cause of volcanic eruptions.

    This is the confirmed species.  We guarantee its identity.

    15.00
  • Salvia dorisiana

    (Fruit Scented Sage)  This native of Honduras has it all -- big, light-green leaves that are fuzzy soft and large magenta-pink flowers that smell intoxicating and bloom from winter into spring. Fruit Scented Sage is one of the strongest and most deliciously scented plants we have encountered. As with so many Salvias, it has a fascinating history.

    This tender perennial is not named after the daughter of a mythological Greek titan. Instead, it is named for Doris Zemurray Stone (1909-1994), an American archeologist and ethnographer who focused on Central America. She was the daughter of a different kind of titan, Russian immigrant Samuel Zemurray, who founded the United Fruit Company as well as a school for agricultural research in Honduras called Escuela Agricola Panamericana. Botanist Paul C. Standley, who named Salvia dorisiana, worked at the school. He introduced the plant to cultivation in the late 1940s.

    At our oceanside nursery, Salvia dorisiana over-winters with minimal cold damage and springs back with new growth from its lower stem in the years when we get a prolonged frost. It prefers full sun and rich, well-drained soil.

    Hummingbirds are drawn to Fruit Scented Sage, but deer don't favor it. Great in containers, this is a good container plant for patios if you live in an area colder than Zones 9 to 11.
    10.50
  • Salvia gravida

    (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.

    10.50
  • Salvia ionocalyx

    (Violet Calyx Sage) Here's another abundantly blooming sage from the cloud forest slopes of Chiapas, Mexico. Violet beelines mark the lower lip of the crimson blossoms, which are so numerous that it can be difficult to see the foliage at times.

    Bloom time is autumn into winter in Zones 9 to 11. The 2-inch-long, netted leaves have purple undersides, making this plant attractive even when not in bloom. Well branched and compact, it has an attractive fountain shape that makes it work well as an accent plant. Violet Calyx Sage also looks good in a large patio container. Give this water-loving species rich, well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade.

    One last bit of buzz: Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds -- especially ones hanging out for the winter in warm climates -- love this plant. Fortunately, deer don't.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia libanensis

    (Giant Colombian Red Mountain Sage) In 1898, physician and medical plant researcher Henry Hurd Rusby (1855-1940) found this towering sage with large, deep red flowers in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains of Colombia.

    Salvia libanensis is endemic to the Colombian Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, so it is a mystery to us why its scientific name refers to Lebanon. San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum recently introduced this rare, high-altitude sage to the horticultural community. Dr. Frank Almeda, Curator and Senior Botanist at the California Academy of Sciences collected seed of this plant in 2012. It blooms profusely in the main gate entry garden of the San Francisco Botanical Garden.

    The fuzziness of Salvia libanensis -- from its reddish green stems to its large, oval-shaped leaves -- is another attraction of this floriferous, shrubby perennial.

    15.00

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia libanensis 'Pink Form'

    (Giant Colombian Pink Mountain Sage) In 1898, physician and medical plant researcher Henry Hurd Rusby (1855-1940) found the red-flowered variety of this towering species in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains of Colombia. This one has large, reddish-pink flowers.

    Salvia libanensis is endemic to the Colombian Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, so it is a mystery to us why its scientific name refers to Lebanon. San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum recently introduced this rare, high-altitude sage to the horticultural community.  Both the red and pink forms bloom profusely. 

    The fuzziness of Salvia libanensis 'Pink Form', including its stems and large, oval-shaped leaves, is another attraction of this floriferous, shrubby perennial.

    15.00

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia littae

    (Litta's Purple Sage) From the cloud forests of Oaxaca, Mexico, comes this lovely shade-loving sage. Large, fuzzy, purplish-pink flowers clusters bloom from late fall into early spring. We have received reports that this sub-shrub is hardy in Zone 8 if mulched.

    Litta's Purple Sage spreads by underground runners and forms a pretty clump of soft green leaves. It is undemanding, but needs needs regular water and rich, well-drained soil.

    Sub-shrubs have some woody growth as well as softer, herbaceous perennial foliage. In Zone 8, this well-branched sage may completely die back to the ground like an herbaceous perennial. Mulching keeps the roots from dying in cold weather. When the weather warms up, you remove the mulch.

    We grow Litta's Purple Sage in containers that overwinter in our greenhouses where its flowers brighten the duller colors of winter. Outdoors during the rest of the year, it looks pretty in borders and -- because it can get large -- as a background planting in a woodland garden. Hummingbirds enjoy it.

    Highly recommended.


    10.50
  • Salvia purpurea

    (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.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia raymondii ssp. mairanae

    (Bolivian Mountain Sage) Neon lilac-pink flowers light up the handsome, furry foliage of this distinctive sage from high in the Andes cloud forests. Its large, textured leaves have dark, velvety purple undersides. Unhappy in dry heat, this is a very showy plant for humid areas.

    In our mild coastal climate, Bolivian Mountain Sage does well in full sun; however, partial shade and ample water are keys to success in hotter, drier areas. It also appreciates rich, well-drained soil.

    In the ground, this sage grows into a shrub up to 5 feet tall in Zone 9 to 11. Or plant it in a large container as a natural focal point on a partially shady patio. It also works well as a seasonal bedding plant. But remember that this water-loving sage particularly appreciates morning sun and afternoon shade.

    In mild climates, it blooms year round, so this is a great choice for gardens where hummingbirds winter over. As with so many Salvias, this one is deer resistant.

    Limited availability.

    10.50
  • Salvia univerticillata

    (Blood Red Mexican Sage) From summer into fall, the fuzzy, deep red flowers of Salvia univerticillata attract hummingbirds. This sage from Chiapas, Mexico, blooms well in partial shade or full sun.

    The flower spikes are unusual, because the blossoms are arranged in single whorls. The heavily veined and textured leaves are almost round and have a pungent odor when brushed.

    This 5-foot-tall sub-shrub has soft, herbaceous perennial growth as well as woody stems. It is a heat-tolerant, cloud-forest native that appreciates rich soil and ample water for maximum growth. Plant it in a large container from which it will spill over the edges and form a lovely mound. Or grow it to full size in a shrubby border, especially in a damp woodland garden.

    This species once was confused with Salvia pulchella. However, this is the true Salvia univerticillata as displayed in the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. It grows well in USDA Zones 9 to 11.
    11.50
  • Salvia wagneriana

    (Wagner's Sage) From November to March, Wagner's Sage produces lavish, hot pink flowers with pink bracts at our Northern California coastal farm. It is is a superb source of food for the Anna's hummingbirds that live here during winter.

    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.

    Wagner's Sage comes from the cloud forests of Southern Mexico and Central America. This tropical beauty is so spectacular that, historically, it has been one of the few native plants cultivated in the home gardens of people in its native lands.

    A large plant that averages 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 smaller and more dense 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.

    This 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.

    Highly recommended.
    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia wagneriana 'White Bracts'

    (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!

    11.50

    OUT OF STOCK

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I like Amstiad

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.


  1. Go tubular. Hummingbirds need tubular flowers that are easy for long, thin beaks to access.
  2. Provide lots of color. Think of yourself as a cafeteria manager who needs to provide many tempting choices in order to attract business. Red, pink, orange and purple sages are particularly powerful hummingbird magnets.
  3. Keep your garden blooming. Plant a variety of Salvias based not only on color but also a broad span of bloom times. Many flower from spring into fall. Others are prolific fountains of nectar for shorter seasons. Numerous winter-blooming species are available for areas that are home to hummingbirds year round.
  4. Grow sages native to the Western Hemisphere. Although hummingbirds will take advantage of many kinds of tubular flowering plants, these tiny birds are native to the Western Hemisphere and prefer flowering plants native to their half of the world.
  5. Select Salvia companion plants. Hummingbirds appreciate a variety of favorite tubular-flowered plants.
  6. Plant hummingbird gardens near cover. Trees and bushes surrounding feeding areas provide protection from predators and chilly, rainy weather.
  7. Don't use pesticides. Insects provide protein for hummingbirds, so don't kill these food sources.
  8. Provide water. Hummingbirds frolic in misters and shallow birdbaths.
  9. Supplement plantings with feeder tubes. Change the sugar water every few days and don't add food coloring. Keep the feeders clean, but don't scrub them with soaps or detergents. Here is more feeder care information.
  10. Read more. Our Everything Salvias Blog offers a number of articles about hummingbirds.