(Sao Borja Scarlet Sage) Three-inch-long, smokey purple blossoms that bloom from spring to fall are a major clue that this heat-tolerant perennial is not your grandmother's Scarlet Sage.
Even when grown as an annual, Salvia splendens 'Sao Borja' brings a tropical look to any garden by reaching an impressive height of 6 feet or taller in one season.
This Brazilian native grows well in USDA Zones 9 to 11 where it is a tender perennial that may return yearly to the warmest parts of its range.
Sao Borja was discovered in the port city of Sao Borja, which is named after Spain's Saint Francis Borgia. The city is located on the Uruguay River, across from Argentina and in Rio Grande do Sul, which is the southernmost state of Brazil and borders the Atlantic coast.
To succeed, Sao Borja Scarlet Sage needs partial shade all day or a combination of morning sun and afternoon shade. It also requires rich soil and ample water for a spring surge of growth that needs to be seen to be believed. Use it as a screen, an accent plant or in a container, which will limit size.
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.
(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.
(Amethyst Sage) Growing up to 12 inches long, the triangular basal leaves of Salvia amethystina subsp. ampelophylla are the largest we know among sages. They have long silky hairs on their undersides and are fragrant when bruised.
Amethyst Sage has deep violet-blue flowers with pronounced white beelines on their lower lips. It is a tall, wide-spreading native of Colombia and Venezuela. In the U.S., this tender perennial grows well as an annual. Give it full sun to partial shade and rich soil that is well drained. Although water-loving, this sage thrives with average supplemental watering based on local conditions.
British botanist James Edward Smith (1759-1828) named the species in 1790. In 1989, University of Oxford researcher John R.I. Wood and Raymond M. Harley of Kew Royal Botanic Gardens authored the scientific name of this subspecies.
We are thankful to University of Buenos Aires agronomy professor and plant explorer Rolando Uria, who collected the seed for our plants in the wild.
Tropical Sage is popular as an annual throughout America and as a perennial in warm zones. It is particularly beloved in the Deep South where it withstands heat, wind, heavy rains and excessive humidity to bloom prolifically season after season. Brenthurst is a coral-flowered cultivar with dramatic, dark bracts and bright green, heart-shaped leaves.
The Desert Botanical Garden of Houston reports that goldfinch enjoy eating the seed of Salvia coccinea. It’s also a favorite with hummingbirds, honeybees and butterflies. Fortunately, deer don’t have a taste for it.
Tropical Sage -- also known as Scarlet Sage -- is native to the American South, Mexico, West Indies and South America. It loves water, but is also drought tolerant; it withers then rebounds following dry spells. Brenthurst, which looks somewhat similar to Coral Nymph Tropical Sage, blooms from spring into fall. A petite plant, it rises up only 12 to 30 inches tall and spreads 18 inches wide. Use it in borders, containers and moist areas.
(Bolivian Sage) From early Spring to first frost, brilliant scarlet flowers on spikes up to 18 inches long adorn this Bolivian native in USDA Zones 9 to 11. Even if you live in a zone with colder winters, Bolivian Sage is spectacular as a bedding plant.
This plant has been called "Salvia coccinea on steroids." Bolivian Sage has smallish leaves but grows up to 8 feet tall in a single season. It blooms constantly from spring into fall, attracting butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds yet deer pass it by.
The flowers of Bolivian Sage are particularly dramatic due to the long anthers reaching out of each blossom. This trait gives Bolivian Sage its scientific synonym Salvia exserta, which means extending outward.
Give this sage full sun to partial shade, regular watering and average to rich garden loam. Aside from being a floriferous screen or background planting, it works well in containers and cut-flower gardens.
(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.
(Elk White Scarlet Sage) The first tall white Salvia splendens variety, this new introduction from Flowers by the Sea is vigorous and free flowering all season long.
Somewhat unusual for this species, 'Elk White grows into a tall but narrow plant, perfectly suited to fill a shady corner. It excels as a container plant. White flowered shade plants are rare, and this one is also beloved by hummingbirds.
Scarlet Sages are native to South America where they thrive in full sun to partial shade.
In areas with colder winters, Elk White grows easily as an annual bedding plant. It's also a successful container plant and a good choice for a woodland garden. It does fine with average watering based on local rainfall and humidity, but can handle ample moisture.
Another good piece of news is that deer avoid it.
(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').
(Jean's Purple Sage) If you are looking for a deep purple perennial for accenting an entryway or back of border in flower beds, Jean's Purple Passion may be the right choice.
This spectacular hybrid crosses Anise Leaf Sage (Salvia guaranitica) and Big Mexican Scarlet Sage (S. gesnerifolia). Jean's Purple Passion most closely resembles Anise Leaf Sage, but has much larger flowers.
Often starting its flowering cycle in June, this sage blooms until hard frosts send it into winter dormancy. It is so long blooming that we often send visitors home with bouquets of its fragrant flowers. Butterflies and hummingbirds are equally appreciative of its charms.
Jean's Purple Passion prefers full sun, rich, well-drained soil, ample water and moderate winter temperatures. Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, developed it and named the hybrid for Jean Coria, a gardening enthusiast who propagated many Salvia species at San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum.
We highly recommend the much improved Salvia guaranitica 'Purple Haze' as an alternative to this older variety.
(Bat-Faced Cuphea) A tiny snout-like face emerges at the end of this Cuphea's tubular flower and beneath two red and purple petals shaped like bat ears. "Too cute!" is a typical response to these whimsical flowers that attract butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds.
Lance-shaped, mid-green leaves cover the slender stems of this petite subshrub, which has both woody and soft herbaceous growth. Most Cupheas are native to Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. In the U.S. they are perennial in areas with warm winters.
San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum notes that the floral structure of a Cuphea often is referred to as a calyx flower, because calyx and flower are one rather than being separate. While some Cupheas have no petals, bat-faced varieties have either 2 or 6.
Cuphea x purpurea is a hybrid of another Bat-Faced Cuphea (C. lavea) and Creeping Waxweed (C. procumbens), both of which have 6 petals.
This long-blooming magnet for pollinators grows well in full sun to partial shade. In areas with chilly winters, it works well as a houseplant or seasonal bedding choice. Outdoors, Cuphea x purpurea is excellent for edging, container planting and suppressing weeds as groundcover. Although it thrives with average watering based on local conditions, this is a water-loving plant and can serve as a solution in moist areas of your yard.
(Mulberry Jam Roseleaf Sage) Magenta flower buds burst into fuzzy, hot pink blossoms in this hybrid sage from the gardens of Betsy Clebsch, author of The New Book of Salvias.
This full-sun Salvia is thought to be a hybrid of the Mexican native Roseleaf Sage (S. involucrata). The other parent is unknown, but may be Chiapas Sage (S. chiapensis).
Deep purple calyxes soften the brightness of the flower clusters. The glossy, mid- to dark-green leaves are oval-to-heart shaped and small. They turn reddish-purple as the weather cools in autumn.
The flowers of this long-blooming, perennial sage look pretty in bouquets and are attractive to hummingbirds.
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: