(Sierra Madre Cardinal Flower) Butterflies and hummingbirds love the long, scarlet and orange trumpet blossoms of this Lobelia native to the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains of Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico.
Mexican Cardinalflower is another common name for Sierra Madre Cardinal Flower. In its scientific name, the term laxiflora refers to the looseness of this long-blooming, clump-spreading plant's flower stems. Angustifolia concerns the narrowness of its shiny leaves.
The Lobelia genus is named for French botanist and herbalist Matthias de l'Obel (1538-1616) who served as physician and botanist to Britain's King James I.
Sierra Madre Cardinal Flower triples in height when in bloom. It grows well in full sun to partial shade and tolerates heat. Although it thrives with average watering based on local conditions, this beauty also tolerates drought. It is perennial in a broad range of zones and, due to rapid growth, is a good bedding plant in areas with frigid winters. Plant it in rich soil.
(Giant Red Cardinal Flower) Similar to the plumage of a Northern Cardinal, the long-blooming flowers of this Lobelia hybrid are startlingly red. The tubular blossoms have lips that flare at their openings into petals shaped like poinsettia bracts.
When in bloom, Giant Red Cardinal Flower doubles in height. It's spectacular cardinal red flower spikes make dramatic additions to cut flower arrangements.
The clumping foliage, which forms a mound, has lance-shaped, mid-green leaves with serrated edges. Remember that young children and pets should not chew on the leaves due to their alkaloids.
Although the origin of Lobelia hybrids can be difficult to nail down, a number of sources identify Giant Red as a cross between L. cardinalis, L. siphilitica and L. fulgens. The first two plants are native to the U.S. while L. fulgens comes from Mexico.
Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds all are drawn to Giant Red. The great news for gardeners who enjoy developing small wildlife habitat is that this plant is easy to cultivate and grows rapidly. Although it does fine with average watering based on local conditions, it loves wet feet. So it does well in and near ponds and boggy areas in full sun.
Plant Giant Red in containers, borders, native plant gardens and seasonal flower beds. It's especially ideal for woodland gardens.
Although used in cooking, this mild tasting oregano is particularly ornamental. Its gold-green leaves turn bright gold in autumn adding a glow to herb gardens, borders and container plantings. In summer, it shoots up 20-inch-tall spikes of pink flowers.
Norton’s Gold is a hybrid, but the species is native to Greece and Turkey. This short variety rises up 3 to 6 inches and spreads 24 inches or more. So it works well as a fragrant, drought-resistant groundcover. It's also cold tolerant and grows well in USDA Zones 6 to 9.
Give this perennial partial to full shade or a combination of morning sun and afternoon shade. Any soil will do as long as it is well drained. Regular watering is fine, but as with so many herbs, Norton’s Gold Oregano thrives in dry conditions.
Historically, oreganos have been used as in herbal remedies for problems including respiratory difficulties, heartburn and urinary tract afflictions. Oregano oil also is used in insect repellant; in the garden, oregano plants deter many garden pests while attracting honeybees and butterflies. You might say they are golden.
(Furman's Red Autumn Sage) Selected by noted Texas plantsman W.A. Furman in the 1970s, this hardy Texas native is beautiful and tough withstanding heat, drought and freezing winters. Its flowers, which bloom spring through fall, are a rich, saturated red bordering on magenta.
Averaging growth up to 3 feet tall, but never wider than 2 feet, it adds zing to borders in spaces between lower growing plants such as Salvia x jamensis. It harmonizes well with pastel types of S. x jamensis.
Heat tolerant and drought resistant, Furman's Red is a good background planting or tall groundcover in a dry garden. It readily attracts honeybees and butterflies, but not deer. This is one of the best choices for extreme conditions, seeming to thrive on hot, dry days and cold nights. Plant it in full sun or partial shade in any well-drained soil.
(Big Orange Autumn Sage) Standout color is the big draw for this large growing Autumn Sage. Collected in the mountains of Northern Mexico, it grows well in a wide range of climates, including the hot dry Southwest and the cool moist Pacific Northwest. A difficult color to capture in a photo, it is well described as a warm orange with a scarlet overlay.
The unusual color and large size of this cultivar make it a great accent plant, surrounded by deep blues or whites. Most people who see this one in person find it both attractive and unusual. And it is unusually long blooming as well!
(Texas Wedding White Autumn Sage) This is our best white-flowered Autumn Sage. It is compact, hardy and blooms abundantly. We love it as a contrast to the generally bright colors of its group. Texas Wedding seems to always be blooming, with massive displays in spring and fall.
The flowers are small but so profuse that they seem to outnumber the leaves.
This variety of Salvia greggii makes a great, small-scale groundcover when each plant is spaced two feet apart. Although it tolerates some shade -- especially in hot climates -- it needs full sun. Good drainage is another necessity, but it doesn't require much watering.
Texas Wedding is reliably hardy to 10 degrees F, but can tolerate colder temperatures with mulching. Here's some other good news: Deer don't much care for it.
(Oaxaca Orange Wooly Sage) Tall, eye-catching spikes of dusky red-orange flowers that bloom from summer into fall make this one of our most impressive Salvias. Plus it's cold hardy into Zone 7.
Even in a fully blooming border, this native of Southern Mexico's cloud forests is the plant that draws the eye.The flowers harmonize with deep blues, such as the gentian of Salvia patens 'Patio Blue,' and bright yellows, including Salvia nubicola.
It is Oaxaca Orange's hairy foliage that gains it the description of being 'wooly' and helps it survive drought and heat. This sage works well in herbaceous perennial borders and container plantings or as a small-scale groundcover in the broad range of climates from Zones 7 to 11. We highly recommend it.
(Scorching Pink Mountain Sage) Compact and small, this Mountain Sage is another fine groundcover for Southern California, the Southwest and Texas. Similar to Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Glimmer', it not only survives but thrives in extreme heat.
Hot pink flowers contrast prettily with the sage's well-branched, dense green foliage. The leaves are heavily veined and aromatic.
At 2 feet tall and wide, this sage is also just the right for a container or edging a pathway. It looks lovely in a short shrub border and is ideal for dry native gardens. The Mountain Sage species is native to the semi-arid lands of the American Southwest and Mexico.
Although heat tolerant and drought resistant, this sage appreciates regular watering and can handle partial shade. It is adaptable and grows well in many kinds of soil as long as it gets good drainage. Butterflies and hummingbirds are drawn to it at bloom time, which is spring to fall with lightest production in summer. Deer, however, leave it alone.
For the record, Scorching Pink Mountain Sage also grows well in cooler regions and coastal climates.
(Big Orange Mountain Sage) When temperatures are cooler in spring and fall, the persimmon-orange flowers of this large Mountain Sage darken. Gray-green foliage, deep red calyxes and reddish-green stems add to the plant's fascinating look, which mixes well with yellows and blues.
This Salvia microphylla comes from the mountains of Northern Mexico. We call it "Big Orange," because it matures to 4 feet tall and wide. Its flowers are also large and bloom spring to fall in USDA Zones 7 to 9.
Similar to many Salvias, Big Orange is adaptable to differing conditions, including either full sun or partial shade. It grows well in a wide range of climates, including the hot, dry Southwest and the cool, moist Pacific Northwest. Although this heat- and drought-tolerant sage fits well in a dry, native garden, it also appreciates regular watering and an average garden soil, such as sandy loam.
Plant it as a tall groundcover that can help control weeds. Or mass it for a shrubby border. It also looks pretty in a container where its height will be shorter.
(Royal Bumble Mountain Sage) Almost black, the stems and calyxes of this UK hybrid form a pleasing contrast with its scarlet flowers and aromatic, glossy green leaves. Bloom time is spring to fall. This Mountain Sage suckers freely and forms a dense clump.
The flowers are velvety and long blooming. This fast-growing hybrid survives drought, but appreciates regular watering. It does particularly well in partial shade. Except for needing good drainage, it isn't fussy about soil type.
Royal Bumble looks pretty in borders and does well in dry gardens. It is a colorful choice for native gardens. Grow it as a screen or background plant and in native plant gardens.
We love and highly recommend this sage. So do butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds.
(St. Charles Day Mountain Sage) Especially in spring and fall, masses of red-violet flowers bloom amid the silvery green foliage of Salvia microphylla 'San Carlos Festival'. Put this one into the "must have" column.
The densely branched foliage features oval leaves that are fragrant, textured and slightly ruffled. This Mountain Sage is an herbaceous perennial in cooler areas and a shrub in warmer zones.
Native to the eastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, it was collected near the village of San Carlos in 1992 by plant explorers from Yucca Do, a nursery in Southeastern Texas. Five years later, Yucca Do introduced the plant to commercial horticulture. It has been one of our favorites ever since.
Mountain Sages are drought resistant, but respond well to regular watering. This mid-height variety grows up to 24 inches tall and 36 inches wide in a location offering full sun to partial shade. It is adaptable to many soil types, but needs good drainage. Although well adapted to dry gardens, it appreciates regular watering.
Even though this hummingbird favorite has been popular for years, it can be difficult to find in commercial production. We highly recommend it for borders, short screens and background planting.
(Texas Blue Sage) This is a cutie and a tough customer once established. It even grows well in caliche soils. Although Salvia texana typically blooms only during spring in Texas, it has a longer season stretching into fall up north.
Flower colors are in the blue range and include purple and violet. Our strain could be described as having the violet of Scarlet O’Hara eyes as well as pronounced white beelines. Its deep green, oblong leaves and bracts are covered with silky hairs so long that they look like eyelashes.
Although short at 12 to 24 inches tall, Texas Blue Sage is so charming that we like to crouch down to get a closer look. In Northern California, it thrives in full sun, but in Texas, it appreciates a bit of shade on the hottest days. This drought resistant Texas perennial does well in a dry garden, but also accepts regular watering in well drained soils.
It can be temperamental outside its native range, so please take special care with this species. Not a good plant for moist or humid parts of he country.
Grow it as a groundcover or in borders, native plant gardens and prairie-type landscapes. We agree with the butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees that visit this beauty: What’s not to love about it.
(Vermilion Bluffs® Mexican Sage) The brilliant red flowers of Vermilion Bluffs bloom abundantly from August to October. This variety of the Mexican native Salvia darcyi is cold hardy to Zone 5b at altitudes up to 5,500 feet.
Salvia darcyi comes from Mexico's eastern Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range where it grows at altitudes up to 9,000 feet. Denver Botanic Gardens developed Vermilion Bluffs to withstand the colder winter weather of the Rocky Mountain region. It is a welcome substitute for Salvia microphylla or Salvia x jamensis , which struggle in cold weather.
This sun-loving sage likes loamy soil. Plant it in shrubby borders, dry flower gardens and containers. Its underground runners form a tough mat that blocks weeds.
The wrinkly, soft green foliage forms a graceful mound that glows against the bright flowers, which attract butterflies and hummingbirds. After frost, the foliage dies to the ground like an herbaceous perennial. Then it returns in spring.
We can't help but highly recommend this easy-care plant.
Vermilion Bluffs is a registered trademark of Plant Select.
(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.
(John Whittlesey Sage) Hardy, vigorous and long blooming, John Whittlesey Sage is a hybrid of D'Arcy's Sage (Salvia darcyi) -- a native of Mexico -- and Mountain Sage (S. microphylla), which is native to the American Southwest and Mexico.
The long flowering season of this sage makes John Whittlesey Sage a garden favorite; it begins bursting with salmon-red blooms early in the growing season. You can grow it as a bedding plant in areas with winters cooler than those of USDA Zone 7. In warmer zones, this tidy sage is an herbaceous perennial.
In coastal areas, John Whittlesey Sage is a great stand-in for the plethora of little-leaf species -- Mountain Sage, Autumn Sage (S. greggii )and Jame Sage (S. x jamensis) -- that often struggle with humidity.
Hummingbirds love the bright red flowers of this full-sun, heat-tolerant plant that makes a tall but effective groundcover. However, it is generally used in mixed borders.
Horticulturist Mike Thiede of Chico, California, developed this sage and named it for John Whittlesey of Canyon Creek Nursery in Oroville, California.
(Scarlet Spires Sage) This is a brilliant cross between the sturdy D'Arcy's Sage (Salvia darcyi) and the beautifully colored 'Raspberry Delight' Littleleaf Sage (Salvia microphylla 'Raspberry Delight').
Sometimes children exceed the success of their parents, and that is the case with Scarlet Spires. This is one of our top hummingbird plants as well as one of our best Salvias for cut-flower gardens. It is a long-blooming choice with foot-tall spikes of large, scarlet flowers and attractive gray-green foliage.
Drought tolerant and dramatic, it is ideal for massing, mixed borders or patio containers. Give it full sun and well-drained soil.
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:
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.