(Pink & White Wagner's Sage) Instead of pink, leaf-life bracts, this variety of Wagner's Sage has white bracts surrounding the hot pink flowers. It blooms from November to March on our coastal Northern California farm where it feeds Anna's hummingbirds all winter long.
Come snow, ice or temperatures as low as 20 degrees, it keeps on blooming.
This tall Salvia is a sub-shrub, which means that it has both woody and soft herbaceous perennial growth. It comes from the cloud forests of Southern Mexico and Central America where it grows at elevations of up to 6,500 feet.
Averaging about 6 feet tall and wide, Wagner's Sage can easily grow 10 feet tall and wide if conditions are right. You can keep it more compact by pruning in mid to late summer before the large, prolific blossoms emerge on foot-long flower spikes. They rise up amid equally dramatic, bright green leaves that are triangular and soft as felt.
Give it space, rich, well-drained soil and average to ample watering in full sun to partial shade. Plant it at the back of shrub borders and cut-flower gardens. This is an ideal plant for moist woodland gardens in USDA Zones 8 to 11.
The species was named by 19th century plant explorer Helmuth Polakowsky (1847-1917) of Germany, who specialized in Central American flora. Although we aren't certain, it is likely that he named it for his somewhat older contemporary Moritz Wagner (1813-1887), a friend of Charles Darwin and a botanist who is especially well known for his exploraration of Costa Rica.
PLEASE NOTE: Our best picture of this plant in bloom disappeared during a computer snafu. This picture doesn't do justice to the contrast between the flowers and their ethereal white bracts. So here is a link to a picture in the Cabrillo College Salvia collection.
Highly recommended by honeybees!
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.
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.
(Red Velvet Sage) Reaching up to 18 inches tall, the floral spikes of this exotic looking Salvia are crowded with small, velvety, orange-red blossoms from mid-summer to late autumn. Its large, dark green, pebbly leaves are beautiful in their own right, making this one of our favorite sages.
Red Velvet Sage is native to Central and South America. In mild climates, it can grow up to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. So sheltering it from the wind -- by staking or situating it near plants that provide support -- is necessary to prevent breakage of the heavy, red tinged stems.
We have found that deep, weekly watering, an occasional light feeding of multipurpose fertilizer and heavy pruning in late winter or early spring keep this dramatic plant looking its best. One reward for this care is excellent stems for cut flower arrangements.
(Columbian Mountain Sage) Deep purple bracts support the small, lighter purple flowers of Salvia cuatrecasana -- a rare Colombian sage. White beelines mark the flowers of this long-blooming shrub, which is a hummingbird favorite.
According to South American plant explorer Rolando Uria, the rarity of this sage is due, in part, to its limited native habitat. Also known as Colombian Mountain Sage, it is endemic to the Andes in Colombia's northern department (state) of Boyaca. It is particularly at home in scrublands and on banks of streams.
Uria notes that Colombian sages are known for their attractive foliage. The fragrant leaves of this heat-tolerant sage are large, glossy and deeply veined.
Salvia cuatrecasana loves water, but does fine with average watering. Give it full sun to partial shade and rich, well-drained soil.
In 1944, Botanist Carl Epling (1894-1968) named it for botanist José Cuatrecasas (1903-1996), who collected the plant four years earlier in Boyaca.
Cuatrecasas specialized in South American plant research for the Smithsonian Institution beginning in 1955.
(Southern Mexican Sage) With its graceful, shrubby habit, purplish green leaves and intense tomato-red blooms, this herbaceous perennial makes a delightful display in your garden. It begins blooming in October and continues sporadically through the winter and into spring in frost-free areas.
Collected by Strybing Arboretum botanists in the late 1980s, it is native to high elevations (7,500-11,000 ft.) in the Mexican provinces of Oaxaca and Chiapas as well as in Guatemala. This is a true cloud-forest sage that best loves a planting location with morning sun and afternoon shade.
For a medium-size plant with pleasing proportions by bloom time, cut stems back to a few inches above the ground in early spring. You'll be pleased to know that although honeybees and hummingbirds love this sage, deer don't.
(Giant Bolivian Sage) Hailing from Peru and Bolivia, this tender specimen is found at altitudes of 9,000 feet in the wild. This multi-stemmed, woody-based, climbing Salvia needs support. Hummingbirds love its 5-inch-long, crimson flowers, which are the longest grown by any Salvia and flower from late summer through autumn.
In frost-free zones and with support, such as a trellis or not-too-hot wall, Giant Bolivian Sage can reach nearly 20 feet in height. In most gardens, it will grow 6 to 8 feet in a season. It prefers filtered sun or a combination of morning sun and afternoon shade. Fast-draining, loamy soil is another requirement.
This rare selection always sells out quickly and wins our commendation as our best climbing, flowering sage.
Red was a sacred color in Ancient Incan culture. The red blossoms of various flowers were prized, including Giant Bolivian Sage, Salvia oppositiflora and Salvia tubiflora. They were used as part of religious ceremonies intended to appease various gods, including mountain dieties who the Incans believed were the cause of volcanic eruptions.
This is the confirmed species. We guarantee its identity.
(Shaggy Chiapas Sage) This is a sweetheart! Glowing magenta flowers lure the eye as well as hummingbirds to this heat-tolerant sage. It begins blooming in late summer where weather is warm and in fall where it is cooler.
This compact shrub from Chiapas, Mexico, has heavily textured leaves and is attractive even when not in bloom.
Reports from colder areas suggest that this Zone 9-to-11 plant may be suitable for Zone 8. Even if you grow it as an annual, you will be very impressed by the large clusters of 1-inch, furry, bright flowers.
This is an adaptable plant, which grows in full sun or partial shade and does well in containers and shrubby borders. We highly recommend it as one of the strongest hummingbird magnets we grow.
(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.
(Winter Mexican Sage) Call it the Snow Queen! From fall through spring, this graceful, colorful sage blooms through 20 degree F weather despite snow and ice. It has lovely, triangular, dark green leaves and profuse clusters of tubular, cinnabar-red flowers that puff out in the center.
in our coastal, Northern California garden, it often blooms from October through April and sometimes shoots up a few flower spikes in summer. Winter Mexican Sage is native to a wide territory from Chaipas, Mexico, to Guatemala where it grows at 3,000 to 9,000 feet in mixed pine and oak forests. It particularly appreciates locations with morning sun and afternoon shade. Use it as a mid-height groundcover, border plant or woodland garden highlight.
In colder climates treat this sage as a subshrub that dies back to the ground similar to an herbaceous perennial. Here on the edge of Zone 8 and 9, it is a shrub that can become large unless pruned. However, it's well worth the time spent trimming.
(Roseleaf Sage) A late but glorious bloomer, Roseleaf Sage starts producing hot pink blossoms in winter and continues into spring -- growing more spectacular every day -- unless cut down to the ground by hard frost.
In the hottest climates, Roseleaf Sage requires a bit of deep shade. It appreciates rich soil and regular watering. This is the largest variety of the species that we cultivate. Growing up to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, it makes a fine screen or background planting, such as at the back of borders.
Use this sage where you want a bold, strong statement. We like to pair it with Salvia mexicana varieties for contrasting color and foliage and the ornamental grass Stipa arundinacea 'Sirocco.'
(Hidalgo Roseleaf Sage) The earliest flowering, hardiest and strongest growing cultivar of its species, Hidalgo Roseleaf Sage starts blooming in June on the Northern California coast. It continues into spring, becoming more spectacular every day, unless cut down by hard frost. In our mild climate, it never stops blooming some years.
This Salvia involucrata requires a bit of high shade in the hottest climates. It also appreciates rich soil and regular watering. Hidalgo differs from Salvia involucrata 'Bethellii' in having stems that are more lax and an earlier bloom time.
Thanks go to North Carolina Salvia guru Richard Dufresne, who collected this plant in Mexico.
Growing up to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, it makes a fine screen or background planting, such as at the back of borders.
Use this sage where you want a bold, strong statement. We like to pair it with Salvia mexicana varieties for contrasting color and foliage and the ornamental grass Stipa arundinacea 'Sirocco.'
(Scandent Mexican Sage) Here's another winter-blooming hummingbird magnet for gardens in mild climates. This one is scandent, which means it is a climber and needs support. Its abundant, magenta-to-purple flowers are velvety and 6 inches long.
Flowering begins in autumn with peak bloom during mild, sunny weather either in December or January. Although Salvia iodantha survives at 20 degrees F, blooming decreases if temperatures fall below 25 degrees F for days at a time. On our coastal, Northern California farm, it blooms through the worst winter storms.
This shrubby sage tolerates partial shade but needs full sun for at least 6 hours a day. It also requires deep watering weekly, shelter from strong winds and well-drained, loamy soil. Growing 6 feet tall and wide, it is an excellent screen or background planting on which deer are unlikely to nibble.
(Karwinski's Sage) From moist mountain areas in Mexico and Central America, this rugged, winter-blooming shrub is found in oak or pine forests at altitudes of 4,000 to 8,000 feet. This may account for this winter bloomer producing a few bright red flowers during short periods of freezing weather with temperatures as low as 20 degrees F.
Speaking of color, the flowers of Karwinski's Sage vary from rose red and scarlet to brick red. Hummingbirds love them all. Our clone is a clear, hot, orange red.
The plant's leaves are pebbly and large -- up to 6 inches long -- with cream-colored hairs on the underside. Size is another dramatic aspect of this plant, which can grow up to 10 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Due to this generous size, it helps to plant Karwinski's Sage in a spot where it is protected against chill and winds. A south-facing wall is ideal. It makes a good screen or background planting, but can also be grown in a large patio container.
To encourage upright, compact growth, periodically remove some of the flowering branches. Or you can prune the plant down to a few active growth nodes once a year at the end of its winter flowering season when it appears there will be no more frost.
This sage is named for German botanist Baron Wilhelm Friedrich Karwinski von Karvin who explored Mexico in the early 19th century.
(White Headed Sage) One of the most visually stunning members of the genus, this large growing, tender, winter blooming species from the mountains of Ecuador will turn every head with its furry white calyxes and brilliant magenta red flowers.
We've found this rare plant does well with full sun, rich well drained soil and ample water. It does not seem to like overly moist conditions, and excelent drainage is a key factor, as is moderately warm growing conditions. As it is a winter bloomer and quite tender, please make sure that you can supply the appropriate conditions for this species before ordering. We rate it as "Challenging" to successfully grow. It may be adapted to other cultural regimes, but there is so little experiance with this plant in horticulture that we are sticking with what we know to be sucessful. It is found in dry shrubland with sub-surface water sourcesin the wild, something to consider when making plant care decisions.
The IUCN lists this specias as "Vulnerable", the classification just below "Endangered".
Many thanks to our friend Dr. Richard Dufresne of supplying us with our original stock of this special plant.
(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.
(El Butano Downy Sage) El Butano is a horticulturally rich area of Cumbres de Monterrey National Park in the mountains of Nuevo Leon, Mexico. El Butano Downy Sage was discovered in this area where it grows at elevations of 4,500 to 8,000 feet.
The selection that we grow was collected at 7,000 feet. The "puberula" part of the species' scientific name refers to the velvety hairs of its light green leaves.
This is a large shrub reaching up to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Its deep magenta flowers are also big, growing almost 4 inches long in clusters atop tall spikes that look pretty in floral displays.
If you live in an area with mild winter temperatures, you can expect intense color from fall into winter. Where we live on the Northern California coast, our established plants continue to bloom most years until early spring, even following snow, hail and multiple days of cold rain. Also, we've found that a hard pinch back during summer makes for a more compact plant at bloom time.
El Butano Downy Sage grows well in full sun to partial shade and in USDA Zones 7 to 11. It likes well-drained soil that is neither poor nor rich and requires average watering based on local conditions. Grow it as a screen, background planting or part of a shrub border.
(Autumn Purple Sage) Small but numerous, the flowers of this sage are a variable shade of light purple that is unlike any other we grow. Native to Southern Mexico and Guatemala, this shrub regularly grows up to 5 feet tall (or taller) and 4 feet wide.
The light yellow-green leaves of Salvia purpurea brighten a shaded garden. Similar to Scandent Mexican Sage (Salvia iodantha), the flowers of Autumn Purple Sage have a translucent quality. The two species form a pretty, blended clump when grown together. However, Autumn Purple tolerates shade better than Scandent Mexican Sage .
This fragrant, heat-tolerant shrub grows well in USDA Zones 9 to 11. It blooms from summer into fall, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.
Give this sage rich, well drained soil. It thrives with average watering based on local conditions, but is a water lover. Try it in damp parts of the yard or moist woodland gardens. It works well as a screen, background planting or part of a shrub border and looks lovely in flower arrangements.
This rare, colorful Salvia should be in wider use.
(Waverly Sage) A pale pink to lavender blush adds delicate color to the white flowers of Waverly Sage, which are supported by plum-colored calyxes. Its mid-green leaves are lance shaped and veined.
This is a tender, woody shrub that may remain evergreen or an herbaceous perennial that dies to ground, depending on the winter temperatures where you live.
First called "Mark's Mystery White," this long-blooming, sun-loving plant that can tolerate some shade. It appears to be related to Mexican Bush Sage (S. leucantha), but it's likely we'll never know all the details of its heritage.
Waverly Sage has a fountain-like form with long stems that rise up from the base and then arch downward. Height varies depending, once again, on local growing conditions. On our farm, it tends to reach about four feet high and six feet wide. However, it does well in a large container.
Deer avoid this shrub, which is popular with butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds. Heat tolerant and drought resistant, it is a great choice for dry landscapes.
(Wooly Multicolor Sage) In Greek, "lasiantha" means "wooly flower." The flowers of Salvia lasiantha are surrounded by wooly bracts, but are even more notable for transforming from apricot-orange in the morning to reddish-purple later in the day.
The bracts are also dramatic -- a fuzzy white overlaid with pink, orange, violet and cream. The large flower clusters bloom from mid-summer until the onset of cold weather. Large wrinkled foliage and white wooly stems are other distinctive features of this large, shrubby sage. All that wooliness helps this native of Mexico and Costa Rica to conserve moisture during drought and extreme heat.
At 5 feet tall and wide, this fragrant butterfly magnet makes a good screen, background planting or addition to a shrubby border. It can even be grown in a large patio container.
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.