(Margie Griffith Sage) Salvia x 'Margie Griffith' is a big, purple-flowered beauty with glossy green, ribbed foliage. It feeds hummingbirds year round down South and on our coastal, Northern California farm where winter temperatures are moderate.
Donna L. Dittmann, collections manager at Louisiana State University's Museum of Natural Science created this sturdy hybrid, which is said to have Salvia mexicana (Mexican Sage) and Salvia involucrata (Roseleaf Sage) parentage. Perhaps it's the Roseleaf influence that gives it a touch of shade tolerance.
Dittmann shared her plant with hummingbird expert Nancy L. Newfield, who shared it with us. The sage is named for their late friend Margie Griffith. The three of them became deeply connected through the Louisiana Ornithological Society and wildlife gardening.
Salvia x 'Margie Griffith' is a perennial at the cooler end of its range and a shrub in warmer zones. In the far north it may bloom too late to support the fall hummingbird migration. It is at it's best in mild climates with little to no frost.
Hummingbirds find it tasty, but deer avoid it. Give it average watering and rich, well-drained soil.
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.
(Bitter Mexican Sage) Hummingbirds love this heat-tolerant Salvia, which is one of our best choices for shady, moist areas. The large-lipped, baby-blue flowers with white striations bloom from late summer through fall.
This compact shrub grows well in the garden or in a container, especially where it will receive morning sun and afternoon shade or partial shade all day. In its native Mexico, it is used as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments. We love its grace and beauty in the garden!
(Rhythm and Blues Anise-Scented Sage) This variety is a far superior version of the older standby 'Black and Blue'. Easy to grow and rewarding, this hummingbird favorite is our very best Anise Scented Sage.
Grow this variety as an aromatic border plant in full sun and well drained soil. It appreciates regular moisture and fertile soil, but can survive moderate stress from shortages of either. The thick dahlia-like tuberous roots, which survive well into Zone 8, are reliable and long lived. With moderate preperation for the winter, it is generally Zone 7 hardy, and can survive Zone 6 winters with appropriate care.
Unlike the herbaceous 'Black & Blue', Rhythm and Blues is semi-woody, and has a much longer blooming season than other varieties. The strong stems and thick deep green leaves are durable and not prone to breakage. The flowers are larger and more numerous as well. Flowers by the Sea is proud to offer this plant for the first time in 2017.
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(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.
(Elk Argentina Skies Anise-Scented Sage) Developed at FBTS, this new introduction is superior to the old standby, 'Argentina Skies'. Superior growth and earlier flowering make it a must-have choice for hummingbird gardeners.
Clear sky blue flowers grace this compact growing variety. The foliege is deep green and lush as well. As do some members of this species, it does spread gently by runners.
We anticipate this replacing the original 'Argentina Skies' variety.
(Hadspen Roseleaf Sage) If you plant this sage in a mild-climate area where hummingbirds overwinter, you'll likely find hummers zinging back and forth among its magenta pink blossoms from fall through spring.
In the hottest climates, Hadspen Roseleaf Sage requires a bit of deep shade. It appreciates average to rich soil and regular watering. This is the largest variety of the species that we cultivate. Sometimes growing more than 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, it makes a fine screen or background planting, such as at the back of borders.
This is our largest Roseleaf Sage and is of uncertain origin. It may have been collected in Mexico by New Mexico's Mesa Garden nursery or it may be a garden hybrid. This is the plant recognized by this name in the horticultural trade.
Plant this Salvia where you want to make a bold statement. We like to pair it with Salvia mexicana varieties for contrasting color and foliage.
(Giant Karwinski's Sage) San Francisco arborist and gardener extraordinaire Ted Kipping developed this tower of creamy pinkalicious power that hummingbirds love. It's lush with bright green leaves that are large, pebbly and hairy on the underside.
Salvia karwinskii 'Ted's 18 Footer' reaches heights almost double those of our other tallest varieties of this tough shrub. It's long bloom season includes winter, during which it can withstand short periods of freezing weather as low as 20 degrees F and still keep blooming.
Due to its generous size, Ted's 18 Footer should be planted where protected against winds. A south-facing wall is ideal for winter warmth. Although this sage will thrive with average watering based on local conditions, it loves moisture. As to soil, it isn't picky but needs good drainage.
Ted's 18 Footer is deer resistant and is an excellent choice as a dramatic accent, screen or background plant.
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.
The parent species of Giant Karwinski's Sage comes from moist mountain areas in Mexico and Central America. In the wild, it's found in oak or pine forests at altitudes of 4,000 to 8,000 feet. Both the scientific and common names honor German botanist Baron Wilhelm Friedrich Karwinsky von Karvin (1780-1855) who explored Mexico in the early 19th century.
(Giant Colombian Red Mountain Sage) In 1898, physician and medical plant researcher Henry Hurd Rusby (1855-1940) found this towering sage with large, deep red flowers in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains of Colombia.
Salvia libanensis is endemic to the Colombian Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, so it is a mystery to us why its scientific name refers to Lebanon. San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum recently introduced this rare, high-altitude sage to the horticultural community. Dr. Frank Almeda, Curator and Senior Botanist at the California Academy of Sciences collected seed of this plant in 2012. It blooms profusely in the main gate entry garden of the San Francisco Botanical Garden.
The fuzziness of Salvia libanensis -- from its reddish green stems to its large, oval-shaped leaves -- is another attraction of this floriferous, shrubby perennial.
('Blue Señorita' Mexican Sage) Smallish rich cobalt blue flowers come in large clusters on this unusually strong growing shrub. From late summer through fall you and the hummingbirds will be delighted with this rare variety.
Grow in dappled shade in warm climates, full sun in cooler areas. 7 feet tall or more when well grown, with flowers too numerous to count. The leaves of this variety are generally smaller than other S. mexicana types. giving it a softer look in the garden.
From Australia, where it is widely grown. Rare in the US, but not for long as this is a special plant.
(Byron's Mexican Sage) One of our favorite Mexican Sages, this large variety is reputed to be a hybrid between Salvia mexicana and S. hispanica -- a species of Chia Sage.
Byron's Mexican Sage grows up to 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Its large, fall-blooming flowers are deep violet with bi-color calyxes that are bright green with dark purple streaks. Hummingbirds and honeybees love the blossoms.
Unlike its parent species, this plant is fragrant. It's also the strongest growing and longest blooming type of S. mexicana that we grow.
We have found this variety to be exceptionally drought resistant, but it does best with regular watering. It also appreciates rich, well-drained soil. Grow this perennial as an accent, screen or part of a tall border. We've voted it our very best Salvia mexicana.
(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.