(Creeping Big Leaf Sage) Cobalt blue flowers float in airy clusters on 12-inch spikes above the velvety, green leaves of this South American native from summer into fall. Short and spreading by woody rhizomes, it is an ideal groundcover.
The foliage of this herbaceous, perennial sage looks similar to sweet potato leaves. It is dramatic in a container or as the border of a raised planter with its giant, heart-shaped leaves cascading over the sides. Some gardeners grow it as a houseplant.
Fast-growing, it is adaptable to full sun and full shade. However, a combination of morning sun and afternoon shade may be more to its liking. Heat tolerant and water-loving, this sage is an ideal choice for a humid climate such as Florida's. But don't forget to give it rich, well-drained soil.
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.
(Variegated Mexican Bush Sage) Although slow growing and somewhat finicky, this sage is a must-have for lovers of unique foliage. It has small purple flowers and highly variegated leaves with stems that are slightly twisted. The overall look is compact and dense.
We have grown this Sage for many years. Many similar-to-identical clones with Japanese names are on the market, but this is the best grower of a not particularly robust variety.
Variegated Mexican Bush Sage likes partial shade. Plant it in humus-rich soil that is well drained and give it plenty of water. It is a delight in a mixed planter.
(Cambridge Blue Gentian Sage) Cambridge Blue is one of the most famous varieties of Salvia patens, which was discovered in Central Mexico in 1838. Its powder blue flowers are delightful and cooling in the landscape.
This variety grows well in full sun or partial shade. Well branched and compact, it has 2 1/2 inch flowers that bloom from summer into fall. Similar to other Gentian Sages, this is a reliable perennial, returning year after year in Zones 8 to 11. However, all varieties of this species are so lovely that they are worth growing as summer bedding plants in colder zones.
British horticulturist Graham Stuart Thomas called Salvia patens "the best plant in cultivation."
Highly recommended by hummingbirds, but not by deer!
(Oxford Blue Gentian Sage) Only Salvia patens 'Blue Angel' comes close to the rich gentian blue of this sage from Central Mexico. Oxford Blue also grows taller and spreads wider than Blue Angel.
Well branched and compact, this Gentian Sage is reliably perennial in USDA Zones 8 to 11. Its lustrous, true blue flowers are 2 1/2 inches long and bloom from summer into fall. They make it a worth growing as a summer bedding plant in areas with colder winters.
Oxford Blue likes regular watering and rich, well-drained soil. It does fine 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.
German botanist Karl Hartweg discovered the Salvia patens species in 1838. British horticulturist Graham Stuart Thomas later called it "the best plant in cultivation."
True blue is not a part of the color spectrum that hummingbirds favor, but they do love the rich nectar of the Gentian Sages. To ensure that hummingbirds stop by to tank up, mix Gentians with red flowered species.
(Big Swing Sage) With its large, cobalt blue flowers displayed on strong, wiry, branched stems, this eye-catching sage wins the FBTS "best of class" designation for being our top Big Leaf Sage (Salvia macrophylla).
Garden writer Betsy Clebsch developed Big Swing, which is a cross between Big Leaf Sage and Arrowleaf Sage (S. sagitata). Its flower spikes rise well above handsome foliage with large, furry, arrowhead-shaped leaves that look almost tropical.
Use this heat-tolerant plant to bring a lush look to a damp corner of your garden or in mixed patio containers. Give it rich, well-drained soil and plenty of water for a long bloom season.
Big Swing comes highly recommended by butterflies, but deer leave it alone.
(Tangerine Pineapple Sage) This citrus-scented cultivar is our smallest variety of Pineapple Sage. Worth growing just for the exotic scent of its leaves, this culinary Salvia is also one of the longest blooming plants in its species.
How is this variety of Pineapple Sage different from Honey Melon? Tangerine's leaves are much smaller (1/2 inch x 1 inch as opposed to 1 inch x 1 1/2 inches), and the plant is shorter (18 inches tall vs. 24 inches). Tangerine also has darker red flowers, foliage with a very different scent and a shrubbier look. Of course, anyone who loves scented plants should have both.
Tangerine Pineapple Sage spreads into a dense clump with underground runners. By cutting back older stems to the ground, new fresh growth keeps it in flower for months. On the Northern California coast, it starts blooming no later than May and sometimes continues until February.
Grow this cultivar in partial shade in warmer zones or in full sun in the coolest part of its range. Along with Honey Melon, Tangerine is easier to grow in most of the country than the larger-growing varieties of Pineapple Sage.
Native to Mexico, Pineapple Sage is found at high elevations in Pine and Oak forests. The species is used as a medicinal herb -- such as in herb tea -- to relieve anxiety and treat hypertension. Just smelling the leaves makes us happier.
(Purple Leaf Tall Big Leaf Sage) Bright green on top, the long leaves of this distinctive sage are a dark, furry purple on the undersides. Like the more typical green form of Salvia Macrophylla, this variety has cobalt blue flowers that seem to float in airy clusters on 12-inch-tall branching spikes.
This fast-growing, herbaceous perennial from Peru is adaptable to full sun and full shade. However, a combination of morning sun and afternoon shade may be more to its liking. Heat tolerant and water-loving, it is an ideal choice for a humid climate such as Florida's. Try it in a container indoors or on a patio. It's also a good choice for borders and background plantings.
Salvia Macrophylla 'Purple Leaf' grows in a tidy, upright fashion, producing 2-inch-long flowers without pause from summer through early fall. Hummingbirds love it, but deer resist its charms.
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.