(Tubular Chilean Sage) Foggy days and moderate temperatures are the norm for this low-altitude, coastal mountain sage from northern Chile and Peru. It is grown as much for its handsome foliage as for the deep cranberry of its tiny, tubular flowers.
In the wild Salvia tubiflora can grow up to 9 feet tall in partial shade to full sun. However, in our coastal California gardens it averages 5 feet tall and wide. Add an extra foot to that height when it is in bloom in fall.
This is a handsome sub-shrub that combines mostly soft herbaceous growth with a bit of shrubby wood. The deeply veined leaves are bright green, up to 4 inches long, and shaped like elongated hearts. The flowers are accented by reddish bracts.
In general, this sage handles winter conditions well in USDA Zones 9 to 11. Our Tubular Chilean Sage begins blooming in late September and continues until the onset of inclement weather. It is a fine container plant and also is pretty in shrubby borders. Although this aromatic plant only requires average watering based on local conditions, it is a good choice for moist areas of the yard.
These are species that grow as woody shrubs and keep their foliage year round.
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.
(Blue Ecuadorian Sage) A densely branched shrub with silvery leaves and dusky blue flowers, this rare species was once thought to be Salvia cruickshanksii. In the nursery trade, it sometimes is called Salvia 'Equador'.
This is the true species and a great groundcover or shrubby border perennial for warm areas. We find that this Salvia does best with ample water, but is remarkably drought tolerant if necessary. The warmer your garden, the larger it grows. Monster plants up to 12 feet tall have been reported in the hills above Monterey Bay.
The flowers, which seem to never stop blooming, are strongly marked with white bee lines. Especially in the warmth of summer this variety is one that blooms non-stop, attracting honeybees, butterflies and hummingbirds. It needs to be cut back occasionally so that new growth predominates.
Blue Equadorian Sage looks handsome in mixed containers, where it is a fine backdrop for plants with darker or glossy green leaves. Although this perennial's ultimate cold tolerance is unknown, it may be a candidate for Zones 7 and 8.
Found in only six locations in the Andes at 8,000 to 9,000 feet, this is a species considered "vulnerable." Plant it and you are helping to preserve a species that is one step short of being classified as endangered.
(Gravid Sage) This tender perennial from Michoacán, Mexico, has large, rich magenta flowers that hang from the arching branches in clusters up to 12 inches long. Growing up to 5 feet tall, this sage offers an unforgettable display when in bloom.
"Gravid" means "with child," and a plant loaded with it's full inflorescence does bring a pregnant woman to mind. Grow this dazzling sage against a wall or trellis. Give it full sun or partial shade as well as rich, well-drained soil and ample water.
Consider Gravid Sage for border, background and container plantings.
(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.
(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.
(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.