(Black Cherry Autumn Sage) Ripe Bing cherries come to mind when viewing the rich purple flowers of this full-sun sage that is adaptable to partial shade. Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds are drawn to its blossoms from spring into fall.
This is one of our hardiest plants in the Autumn Sage group, which is well known for adapting from hot summer to chilly winter weather and tolerating both drought and a bit of excess moisture.
Black Cherry's stems, as well as the calyxes cupping its blossoms, are such a dark purple that they are almost black. They contrast dramatically with the shrub's flowers and its densely branched, small, deep green foliage.
Only 24 inches tall and wide, this is one of the best small cultivars among our Southwestern Salvia greggii cultivars.
(Elk Pomegranate Autumn Sage) We're proud to say that this is an FBTS cultivar. It is one of the finest dark flowered, compact Autumn Sage varieties we have seen. Its extraordinarily large, raspberry blossoms bloom from spring into fall.
The large, luxuriant leaves are a bright Kelly green as are the stems and calyxes. Although it does well in full sun, it especially thrives in morning sun and afternoon shade. This heat-tolerant, drought-resistant sage is ideal in patio containers and along borders. It's also just the right size and look for a dry garden groundcover.
We aren't the only ones that love it. Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds frequently visit our Elk Pomegranate plantings. They highly recommend it and so do we.
(Plum Wine Autumn Sage) Frilly, lavender-tinged, pink flowers with a pretty white dot at the throat make this another outstanding contribution from North Carolina nurseryman Richard Dufresne. It blooms from spring to fall.
Just because a shrub is covered in lavender and pink and is attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds, doesn't mean that it isn't a put-up-your-dukes tough plant. Deer don't like to tangle tastebuds with most Salvias, and this Autumn Sage is no exception.
Plum Wine is drought-resistant and gets by just fine in full sun or partial shade. It is upright in growth and taller than it is wide, but forms a handsome, mid-height groundcover.
Now remember this: Just because a shrub is tough, doesn't mean it can't hang out with other pretty plants. This one goes well with other light pink choices as well as white and burgundy Autumn or Mountain Sages.
Did we mention adaptablity? This sage is a great choice from California to the New York Islands. This sage was made for you and me.
(Texas Wedding White Autumn Sage) This is our best white-flowered Autumn Sage. It is compact, hardy and blooms abundantly. We love it as a contrast to the generally bright colors of its group. Texas Wedding seems to always be blooming, with massive displays in spring and fall.
The flowers are small but so profuse that they seem to outnumber the leaves.
This variety of Salvia greggii makes a great, small-scale groundcover when each plant is spaced two feet apart. Although it tolerates some shade -- especially in hot climates -- it needs full sun. Good drainage is another necessity, but it doesn't require much watering.
Texas Wedding is reliably hardy to 10 degrees F, but can tolerate colder temperatures with mulching. Here's some other good news: Deer don't much care for it.
(Saint Isidro's Sage) This hardy, lavender-blue-flowered Salvia comes from Southern Texas and has the same breeding as the famous Ultra Violet Autumn Sage. Although it needs warmer winter temperatures and has smaller foliage, it also does well in stressful conditions, including drought.
Saint Isidro's Sage is a dwarf plant with tall flower spikes. This hybrid of Autumn Sage Salvia greggii and Canyon Sage (Salvia lycioides) will keep your garden buzzing with honeybees, hummingbirds and butterflies from spring until frost. Similar to many sages, it is deer resistant.
This is a fine perennial border, groundcover, dry garden or container plant. Just give it full sun, good air circulation and well-drained soil.
(Giant Purple Desert Sage) It’s best to plant this flamboyant native of the Southwest in spring or summer. However, once established, it tolerates winters from USDA Zones 5 to 9. Purple tubular flowers and burgundy bracts flare up its 10-inch flower spikes like flames on this softly rounded shrub.
Fragrant, drought resistant and heat tolerant, this is a sage that isn’t particular about soils as long as they drain well. Give this shrub lots of sunshine and little water for best performance.
Blue Flame’s improbably lush flowers are offset by mid-green foliage. It does well in dry, gravelly gardens as a groundcover, border or pathway edging and is just right for a native garden focusing on the Southwest or a wide variety of American native species.
Expect Blue Flame to grow up to 36 inches tall and 24 inches wide and to flower from summer to fall. Expect to fall in love with it; certainly butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds do. Luckily, deer avoid it.
Thanks for the beautiful photo go to high-altitude plant expert Panayoti Kelaidis, senior curator and director of outreach at Denver Botanic Gardens.
(Texas Blue Sage) This is a cutie and a tough customer once established. It even grows well in caliche soils. Although Salvia texana typically blooms only during spring in Texas, it has a longer season stretching into fall up north.
Flower colors are in the blue range and include purple and violet. Our strain could be described as having the violet of Scarlet O’Hara eyes as well as pronounced white beelines. Its deep green, oblong leaves and bracts are covered with silky hairs so long that they look like eyelashes.
Although short at 12 to 24 inches tall, Texas Blue Sage is so charming that we like to crouch down to get a closer look. In Northern California, it thrives in full sun, but in Texas, it appreciates a bit of shade on the hottest days. This drought resistant Texas perennial does well in a dry garden, but also accepts regular watering in well drained soils.
It can be temperamental outside its native range, so please take special care with this species. Not a good plant for moist or humid parts of he country.
Grow it as a groundcover or in borders, native plant gardens and prairie-type landscapes. We agree with the butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees that visit this beauty: What’s not to love about it.
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.
Xeric plants are excellent for water conservation. They grow well in dry gardens with little to no supplemental watering once established. In fact, overwatering can harm these plants, which are native to dry environments such as deserts and chaparral.
At Flowers by the Sea, we identify all xeric plants with a blue plant marker that warns against overwatering. Here are some tips for growing and understanding our xeric, or blue tag, plants:
1) In a humid region, you may find it difficult to grow plants native to semi-arid and arid environments. Yet xeric plants may succeed if you have a persistently dry area, such as under a roof overhang or in the shelter of a tree.
2) Xeric plants are excellent for locations far from garden hoses, such as along sidewalks -- areas often referred to as "hellstrips."
3) Shipping is hard on xeric plants, which suffer from confinement in small containers as well as boxes. You may see some mold, spots on leaves or withered foliage when they arrive. But xeric plants perk up with proper care while hardening off in partial shade before planting.
4) When amending soil before planting, remember that xeric plants not only need excellent drainage but also flower better in low fertility soil. Fertilize sparingly and use a mix with more phosphorous than nitrogen to encourage flowering and discourage lax overgrowth of foliage.
5) Organic matter, such as compost, is an excellent soil amendment for xeric plants, because it keeps their roots healthy by improving aeration and drainage.
6) When your xeric plants are established, water infrequently to encourage deep root growth and to avoid fungal problems. However, it's a good idea to gently spray dust off foliage about once a week.