This plant is available only in the spring
(Mystery Peruvian Sage) Airy spikes of fuzzy, bright orange-red flowers and grassy green calyxes mark this Peruvian sage as a mystery worth pursuing. Little is certain about its parentage.
The UK's leading Salvia expert, Robin Middleton, notes, at his Robin's Salvias website, that the University of Reading is studying SL411.
SL411 may be related to three kinds of Salvias, including striata, S. squalens or S. tubiflora.
Middleton says that it is the large leaves of SL411 that seem to connect it to S. squalens.
SL411 is a long-blooming, high-altitude sage that grows rapidly and easily in full sun to partial shade with rich but well-drained soil. It is a water-loving tender perennial. Hummingbirds enjoy its nectar.
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.
Whether you call it a shrub or a tree, Salvia arborscens rises up to an impressive 12 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Commonly known as Sage Tree, this Salvia grows well in full sun, but prefers partial shade.
It is the size of this plant more than its floral display that is its main attraction. Cream to yellow and tiny, each flower has long, graceful anthers that extend far beyond its corolla. The foliage is bright green to forest green with lance-shaped leaves.
Sage Tree works well as a screen or background planting In rich, well-drained soil. It also looks handsome in shrubby borders and is a good solution for moist areas of the yard. You can even grow it in a large container, but expect it to rise to a shorter height than it would in the ground. Deer mostly avoid Salvias, so this is one tree they likely won’t nibble on.
Swedish botanist Erik Ekman collected Salvia arborscens during the 1920s in the Caribbean. Commonly known as Sage Tree, it was one of more than 2,000 species that he introduced to science during his 14 years of research in Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic’s Partners for Rural Health organization notes that the leaves are used as a folk remedy for diarrhea. However, it warns that they may be dangerously narcotic. So don’t cook with this sage.
(Corrugated Sage) Dense, purple-blue whorls of flowers complement this evergreen‘s somewhat linear, deeply textured -- or corrugated -- dark green leaves with cottony undersides. It is a handsome native of the Ecuadorian Andes Mountains.
Corrugated Sage grows quickly and easily up to 6 feet tall and wide. It needs full sun, well-drained soil and regular water to stay in nearly continuous bloom and look it’s best. Occasional pruning of the growing tips or container planting helps restrict the shrub's growth to about 2 to 3 feet tall and wide.
We enjoy contrasting this plant’s rounded, dense form with taller, airier sages, such as Salvia guaranitica 'Purple Majesty'.
In addition to planting it in decorative containers, we highly recommend using this plant in shrub borders and moist woodland-style gardens.
(Pink Tehuacan Sage) Large clusters of big, fuzzy, hot magenta-pink flowers top the elegant foliage of this Mexican sage. It is long blooming beginning in late spring and does well in full sun or partial shade. We want to help spread this rare sage that deserves to be widely planted.
This is a relatively new plant in cultivation and was collected in the Tehuacan region of Mexico -- the same area where the first wild maize was cultivated. Similar to vegetable garden plants, it likes moisture and rich, well-drained soil. Although its growth can be limited through careful pruning or container planting, this lovely Salvia can reach up to 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide in the ground.
We highly recommend this plant for use next to an entryway and in a border or woodland-style garden. Thanks to botanist Brent Barnes for the great picture capturing its beauty.
(Peruvian Sage or Concolor Sage) Native to the high Andes of Peru, this is a distinctive Salvia with apple-green leaves that are smooth on top and silver-haired fuzzy on the bottom. The flowers are such a dark purple that they almost look black.
Large and showy, the flowers of Peruvian Sage -- also known as Concolor Sage for its bicolor leaves -- bloom from spring through autumn. They continue blooming during the chill of winter if kept in a greenhouse. Peruvian Sage does best if watered regularly and given shade for part of the day, but cannot tolerate wet soils.
The plant's wiry stems are scandent, which means that they climb upward like vines but without tendrils. When planted in the ground, its stems arch and form ground cover. This dramatic plant looks lovely in a hanging basket or in a container with a light trellis or bamboo poles supporting its sprawling growth.
Situate Peruvian Sage where it will delight you with its black currant fragrance that makes all seem well in the world. This is one of our favorite plants, and we are glad to report that deer don't seem to like it!
(Prawn Sage) Although the common name for this flaming red, Andean sage is based on its flower's resemblance to a shrimp head, its scientific name goes back to the days of late 18th century Spanish exploration of the Americas.
"Haenkei" honors German botanist Thaddäus Haenke, who was part of the Malaspina expedition to Bolivia, Peru and many other sites along the west coasts of Latin America and North America beginning in 1790. We won't go into detail here, but Tadeo -- as he was called by the Spanish explorers -- was a tough, resilient kind of person. How fitting that a tough survivor of a plant should be named after him.
Salvia haenkei grows quickly and can become more than 8 feet tall and wide. Yet it is a fine container plant, especially if cut back regularly to keep growth under control and tidy. It is one of the best hummingbird plants in its native habitat where it is also used as a culinary herb.
This fragrant, water-loving sage blooms from summer into fall. It is a dramatic addition to a lightly shaded garden in which it can sprawl a bit in a shrub border or cut-flower bed. If you live in an area colder than Zones 9 to 11, try it as a somewhat exotic bedding plant.
(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.
(Arrowleaf Sage) Brilliant royal blue flowers and unusual foliage attract the eye to Arrowleaf Sage. This large herbaceous perennial is found at elevations up to 10,000 feet in the Cordillera de los Andes of Chile, Ecuador and Peru.
Sagittata refers to the arrowhead shaped leaves, which are deeply textured, lime-green and woolly on the undersides. The flowers rise up 1 to 2 feet on dark, leafy spikes from summer into fall.
This sage is adaptable about settings ranging from full sun to partial shade, but needs at least a few hours of strong sunlight daily to bloom well. It also likes well-drained soil that’s high in organic matter, regular watering and a light feeding once or twice a month during rapid growth.
Arrowleaf Sage's habit of spreading via suckers makes it a good groundcover. However, it needs some partial-shade time to do this. It also works well in perennial borders and containers as well as along pathways.
For the best shape and most profuse bloom, cut this sage down to its lowest few active growth nodes in March.
(Envy Hybrid Sage) A natural hybrid found in Peru and Bolivia, the parentage of this special variety is at this point unknown. The uniquely colored flowers are abundant all season long, and the hummingbirds love it.
Growing four feet or more in a single season, this shrubby plant is a good choice for colder Zones as a long blooming annual. In frost free climates it becomes a semi-woody shrub that can be shaped to fit your needs.
We grew a large number of seedlings of this variety in 2016, and selected this clone as a superior variety.
(Shelby Hardy Gloxinia) Shelby's long, tubular, creamy pink flowers dangle from apple-green, leaf-like calyxes. Fuzzy red petioles connect the flowers to deep red stems rising above rich green foliage. This Suncrest Nurseries hybrid of two South American species can handle a bit of winter chill.
Hummingbirds enjoy gloxinias. By planting Shelby Hardy Gloxinia and other hummingbird favorites in a setting devised for close-up observation, you have a front-row seat for hummer antics during the growing season. It's a fine choice for a patio planter or rock garden.
The flower tubes of gloxinias are referred to as having fused petals. Some, such as Shelby's white-flowered, hybrid parent Sinningia incarnata, are barrel-shaped similar to a cigar-style Cuphea. Others, such as Shelby and its second parent plant, the red-flowered species S. tubiflora, have lacy corollas at their openings. Similar to most Sinningias, Shelby's roots are tuberous.
The elliptical, veined leaves are also interesting due to being smooth with a slightly pitted texture and having fine eyelash hairs on their edges.
This is a petite perennial that prefers rich, well-drained soil and locations with full sun to partial shade. As part of the Sinningia genus, it's a member of the Gesneriad family (Gesneriaceae), which is probably best known for African Violets (Saintpaulia genus).
Sinningias are named for Willhelm Sinning (1792-1874) who was a gardener at Germany's University of Bonn Botanical Garden. Sinning co-authored the 1825 book A Collection of Beautiful Flowering Plants, which contained one of the first botanical illustrations of a gloxinia.
(Scarlet Rooster Sage) From the Mountains of Mexico we have this stunning Sage, which seems never to be out of bloom. A superior hummingbird plant, the warm orange flowers that cover this shrubby perennial make it a standout in the garden.
Easy to grow, you can use this one as a background to lighter flowered plants, as a Summer hedge, or as a stunning container plant. We are amazed how popular these blooms are to our hummingbirds.
(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.
(Purple Bract Peruvian Sage or Concolor Sage) Similar to its wild relative, Peruvian Sage, which is also known as Concolor Sage, this cultivar has foliage that is smooth, apple green on top and fuzzy with silver hairs on the bottom. Major differences appear in the dramatic bracts.
Unlike the apple-green bracts of its parent, this cultivar has large purplish bracts cupping the base of flowers so deeply purple that they are almost black. Its leaves are also smaller than those of the species. It is the combination of purple bracts and blossoms that causes us to put this on our most unusual Salvias list.
Large and showy, the flowers bloom continuously from summer through autumn. They continue flowering during the chill of winter if kept in a greenhouse. Purple Bract Peruvian Sage does best if watered regularly and given shade for part of the day.
The plant's wiry stems are scandent, which means that they climb upward like vines but without tendrils. When grown in the ground, its stems arch and form ground cover. This dramatic plant looks lovely in a hanging basket or in a container with a light trellis or bamboo poles supporting its sprawling growth.
Situate Purple Bract Peruvian Sage where it will delight you with its black currant fragrance that makes all seem well in the world. This is another outstanding plant from California Salvia guru Brent Barnes and receives our best-of-class honor. Availability is limited.
(Fuzzy Bolivian Sage) Large, bright and fuzzy, the cherry-licorice red flowers of this sage top what at first glance appears to be smooth, glassy green foliage. Up close, the large, lance-shaped leaves are velvety with clear-to-white hairs.
This tropical perennial is slow to start growing in spring, but takes off as the days get longer and warmer. Then it blooms from summer to fall, attracting hummingbirds. It grows well in USDA Zones 7 to 9, but needs winter mulching in the cooler part of that range. Well-drained, loose soil and mulch help the plant's underground runners survive to grow new stems in the spring.
Salvia oxyphora is from middle elevations in the Bolivian Andes, where it grows on the edge of moist, warm forests. It loves rich soil, lots of moisture and full sun to partial shade.
We enjoy growing this dramatic, heat-tolerant plant in containers where its showy flowers can be enjoyed close up. Moist woodland gardens are another good setting. One last tip: The branches of Salvia oxyphora tend to be somewhat brittle. Pinching it back encourages good branching and protects it from breaking in strong winds.
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.