(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.
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.
(Friendship Sage) Thank you Rolando Uria of the University of Buenos Aries for this very fine plant. Discovered in 2005 at a plant show in Argentina, this truly unique hybrid sage has generated a great deal of excitement in the Salvia world. We are happy to be able to offer this plant which we test grew in 2012 for sale in the Spring of 2013.
Growing to about four feet tall, this variety starts blooming when very small and never stops. Large rich royal purple flowers are highlighted dark bracts - all displayed on many-flowered inflorescence. The foliage is something like S. guarantica and something like S. mexicana, but it's true origins are unknown.
According to Rolando (pictured here at the Salvia Summit II in March 2013) this plant is replacing Salvia guarantica in the gardens of Buenos Aires. It resembles some of the purple Anise Scented Sages, but is an absolutely unique plant.
A true hummingbird magnet, use this fine plant as a specimen, in mass for bedding, in a container or in the perennial border. The true temperature hardiness of Amistad is still imperfectly understood, but the plant has handled 20 degree weather for us.
(Prairie Sage) Native to a large part of the central United States, this perennial Salvia is a beloved wildflower, delighting us with large cerulean blue flowers. Hummingbirds and butterflies love it as well.
In full sun with good soil, this sage provides a spectacular floral display from late summer through fall. We like to plant it among other perennials and shrubs, where it can poke its head out here and there. It's a reliable addition to any garden designed to attract pollinators and the human eye.
(Blue Sky Mexican Sage) The small flowers of this plant from Neuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, Mexico, are an attractive combination of amethyst-purple and white. The spectacular leaves, which are large and lightly textured, appear blue-green on top and purple-green underneath.
Densely branched, this partial-shade sage is excellent in containers where it's beauty can be appreciated close up. It prefers rich, well-drained soil. Everyone wants a Blue Sky Mexican Sage when they see this mid-height Salvia close up during its fall bloom time. It is ideal for a shrubby border, background planting or a woodland-style garden.
(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.
(Silly Mexican Sage) Also known as Salvia roscida, this close relative of Blue Sky Mexican Sage (Salvia caudata 'El Cielo Blue') has thousands of deep violet-blue flowers with prominent white bee lines.
Honeybees love this Salvia, which blooms from spring to fall. It has such a high flower-to-leaf ratio that it is covered with color when in full bloom.
Use this tall, columnar sage as a background plant for larger-flowered species. It also works well in shrubby borders, woodland-style gardens and containers. Adaptable about watering, it is a good choice where conditions are dry or water is ample.
When we have visitors, they go far off the path to ogle this plant up close. We highly recommend it for being so floriferous and doing well in full shade.
Large apricot-yellow flowers are an attraction of this cross between two Mexican species -- Salvia madrensis (Forsythia Sage) and the volcanic sage Salvia gesneriiflora (Mexican Scarlet Sage).
Botanists from Central California’s Cabrillo College hybridized this sunny-looking sage that does well in situations where moisture ranges from regular watering to ample quantities of rainfall.
Plant explorers from Southern California's Huntington Gardens discovered one of its parents -- Salvia gesneriiflora -- while visiting Volcan de Tequila in the Mexican Province of Jalisco.
Some varieties of Mexican Scarlet Sage reach heights and widths of 10 feet whereas Forsythia Sage can grow up to 10 feet tall, but usually no more than 3 feet wide. This hybrid, which reaches up to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, works well as a background planting or in tall borders. It blooms from summer to fall and attracts hummingbirds.
Cabrillo Giant grows well in full sun to partial shade and does best with rich, well-drained soil. Screen it from wind to avoid breakage of woody branches.
(Forysthia Sage) This statuesque perennial grows up to 10 feet tall, but spreads only 3 feet wide. It is a late bloomer from Mexico's Sierra Madre Oriental mountains where it grows at altitudes of 4,000 to 5,000 feet and tolerates temperatures down to 20 degrees F.
Short periods of colder temperatures don't kill this tough sage. When knocked out by frigid weather, it usually comes back from root stock. A single plant forms a multi-stemmed thicket through slowly spreading rootstock, but can easily be kept tidy by removing unwanted stems.
Give this sage morning sun and afternoon shade as well as ample water. From fall until frost -- or into spring in mild winter areas -- it will reward you with buttery yellow flowers that make this shrub look like a Forsythia from a distance. But get up close and you will notice that it has roughly textured, heart shaped leaves as well as thick, square stems.
You can grow Forsythia Sage as a screen, border or background plant. It even does well in containers. We love to plant Bog Sage, Salvia uliginosa at its base for a bright blue floral contrast.
(Ocampo Mexican Sage) Growing from 7 to 10 feet tall each year, this is the largest of our Mexican Sages. Yet due to its erect form, this sage only spreads 36 inches. It has large, deep violet flowers with almost black calyxes that rise up on tall spikes and dark green, heavily veined foliage.
Collected near the mountain valley town of Ocampo, this Salvia mexicana is native to Mexico's eastern Sierra Madre range in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas on the Gulf of Mexico.
In its homeland, Ocampo Mexican Sage grows on the edges of oak and pine forests. So it does well under tall, deciduous trees and at the margins of moist woodlands in USDA Zones 8 to 11 where it blooms in fall.
Give this hummingbird favorite well-drained, rich soil and regular watering. It works well as a screen or background planting or in tall borders and cut flower gardens. Container planting is fine, but limits height.
(Door of the Fox Mexican Sage) Purplish foliage contrasts attractively with the violet-to-purple flowers of this big sage, which grows 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Bloom time is autumn. This darkly dramatic Mexican Sage makes a particularly attractive entryway accent.
Zorra is Spanish for female fox as well as slang for prostitute. At one time, we heard that Puerto de la Zorra (door of the fox) was collected in front of a brothel. How wrong we were. Upon learning that North Carolina Salvia specialist Rich Dufresne found this Mexican Sage in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, we asked him about its naming and location. He collected it along what is still an isolated stretch of the old Pan American Highway (Mexican Federal Highway 85). The only marker nearby was a wooden sign that said "Zorra." Dufresne concludes that there may be lots of fox dens in this rural area.
Other good uses for this Salvia mexicana include hedges and perennial borders. It looks pretty among mixed plantings in a hummingbird garden. Growing it in a container is fine, but will limit height.
Give this unique, heat-tolerant perennial full sun to partial shade along with regular watering. One more tip: It doesn't seem to mind occupying damp spots in the yard.
(Mexican Many Flowered Sage) Blooming from late summer into winter, this Mexican cloud-forest native has so many flowers that they are difficult to count. The deep violet blossoms develop distinct, white beelines after opening.
Growing up to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide, Salvia myriantha is a good size for the back of perennial borders in moist, woodland gardens. Its sticky foliage and strong aroma may also incline gardeners to use it as a background planting. However, those who love its multitudinous, vibrant flowers may want to plant it close up along pathways. Container planting also works well.
This shrubby, water-loving sage grows well in USDA cold hardiness zones 9 to 11. It does particularly well in settings with morning sun and afternoon shade. Give it well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter.
Our honeybees and hummingbirds love it, and we think you will, too.
(Anthony Parker Bush Sage) Floriferous spikes of dark blue to purple flowers bloom midsummer to fall on this tidy, mid-height subshrub that grows as wide as it is tall.
Anthony Parker Bush Sage is a chance hybrid that garden designer Frances Parker discovered in her South Carolina garden in 1994 and named for her grandson. It appears to be a cross between Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha 'Midnight') and Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) and is perennial in areas with moderate winters.
Although not aromatic, the gray-green, heart-shaped leaves are similar to those of Pineapple Sage, including their attractive veining. Anthony Parker Bush Sage's flowers -- lovely in cut-flower arrangements -- reflect those of Mexican Sage, but are darker and more slender.
Hummingbirds love this full-sun sage, which makes it a valuable addition to wildlife habitat. We love it too and give it our "best of class" designation as the best blue-blossomed, fall-flowering sage for your garden.
Our photograph of this variety is not particularly good. Here is a link to a better one on Pinterest.
(Betsy's Choice Sage) Life and botany have their beautiful mysteries. Betsy's Choice Sage is one of them. We aren't certain of the parentage or history of this tall, attractive, fast-growing sage. However, we are certain that we love its tubular, royal purple flowers. Hummingbirds do as well.
Some say that it is a cross between a Salvia guaranitica and a Salvia fulgens. Some hint at a S. gesnerifolia connection by comparing it to S. x 'Jeans Purple Passion'. Others draw comparisons between Betsy's Choice and S. Amistad which may possibly be related to S. guaranitica.
On first impression, it does look like S. guaranitica. However, the leaves of Betsy's Choice are much larger and brighter; its nodes, or rooting points, are much farther apart. As to Amistad -- another South American species -- Betsy's Choice is far larger and much faster growing.
Another question is whether Betsy's Choice is the same plant as Salvia 'Betsy's Purple', which garden designer Bob Hyland of Portland wrote about for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in 2003.
Information about the connections between Salvia species can be tantalizingly elusive. Our answer to all this botanical guesswork is that we don't have any answers.
What we do know is that this shoulder-high, long-blooming, water-loving perennial is heat tolerant and grows well in full sun or partial shade. And here's a footnote discovered at the Sweetbay garden website: Betsy's Choice looks terrific with a backdrop of Pink Muhly Grass ( Muhlenbergia 'Pink Flamingos').
(Margie Griffith Sage) Salvia x 'Margie Griffith' is a big, purple-flowered beauty with glossy green, ribbed foliage. It feeds hummingbirds year round down South and on our coastal, Northern California farm where winter temperatures are moderate.
Donna L. Dittmann, collections manager at Louisiana State University's Museum of Natural Science created this sturdy hybrid, which is said to have Salvia mexicana (Mexican Sage) and Salvia involucrata (Roseleaf Sage) parentage. Perhaps it's the Roseleaf influence that gives it a touch of shade tolerance.
Dittmann shared her plant with hummingbird expert Nancy L. Newfield, who shared it with us. The sage is named for their late friend Margie Griffith. The three of them became deeply connected through the Louisiana Ornithological Society and wildlife gardening.
Salvia x 'Margie Griffith' is a perennial at the cooler end of its range and a shrub in warmer zones. In the far north it may bloom too late to support the fall hummingbird migration. It is at it's best in mild climates with little to no frost.
Hummingbirds find it tasty, but deer avoid it. Give it average watering and rich, well-drained soil.
(Phyllis' Fancy Sage) The parentage of this lavender-flowered hybrid sage is unknown. However, it may be a cross between Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) and Chiapas Sage (S. chiapensis).
Phyllis' Fancy comes from the Arboretum at the University of California, Santa Cruz. It is similar to other S. leucantha hybrids we grow at Flowers by the Sea, but is the largest plant in this group.
The foot long flower spikes are cupped by bicolor, green and purple calyxes. This is a late bloomer, but keeps on giving until harsh frost sets in, which hummingbirds appreciate. A full-sun perennial, Phyllis' Fancy is a good choice for large borders or as an accent plant.
(Texas Firecracker) Hummingbirds and butterflies will thank you with frequent visits if you add this long-blooming plant to your wildlife garden. Its bright orange trumpet-type flowers with long, narrow petals are wells of delicious nectar.
Texas Firecracker is a subshrub, which means that it combines soft, herbaceous perennial foliage with some woodiness. It has slender, lance-shaped, dark green leaves. Trim it back in late winter for better form and fuller spring growth.
Although related to the Bears Breeches genus (Acanthus), Texas Firecracker lacks the thorny sepals of those plants. Anisacanthus is Greek for "without thorns." Wrightii means that this native Texas species is named for American botanist Charles Wright (1811-1885) who, beginning in 1837, spent 15 years collecting extensively in Texas.
This is a mid-height, heat-tolerant species that loves full sun. Texas Firecracker resists drought, but thrives with average watering based on local conditions. It does well in containers as well as mixed borders.
For pyrotechnical color in the garden, mix it with the clear, pumpkin-orange flowers of Golden Flame Texas Firecracker (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii) and the crimson blossoms of Red Texas Firecracker ( Anisacanthus wrightii 'Select Red').
Don't worry about deer; this plant isn't to their taste.
(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.
(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!
(Little Mexican Sage) This low-growing sage is a shrub in its warmest zones and a perennial in the cooler ones. It's just right for small spaces or tiny gardens. Short and compact, its flowers are similar to but smaller than those of S. mexicana 'Limelight'.
Little Mexican Sage has the broadest temperature tolerance of all the Salvia mexicana we grow, ranging from USDA Zones 7 to 11.
Compared to our other varieties, some of which can rise up to 10 feet tall, Little Mexican Sage is also petite at a maximum of 30 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Even it 's gray-green leaves are smaller than those of the other varieties. They contrast handsomely with the sage's royal blue flowers, which bloom in fall.
The size of this full-sun plant makes it a fine container choice for colder climates. We also love Little Mexican Sage in perennial borders and along walkways. It needs well-drained ground, but is otherwise unpicky about its soil. We highly recommend this easy-to-grow plant.
(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.