These are species that produce woody stems, but die back to the ground in the winter in all but the warmest climates. In warm winter areas these can become woody shrubs, but they generally benefit from the following pruning methods.
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.
(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, and bloom,s well into the winter.
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. 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 in cool areas or partial shade elseware 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.
(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.
(Ocampo Mexican Sage) Growing from 7 to 10 feet tall each year, this is the largest of our Mexican Sages. Yet due to its erect form, this sage only spreads 36 inches. It has large, deep violet flowers with almost black calyxes that rise up on tall spikes and dark green, heavily veined foliage.
Collected near the mountain valley town of Ocampo, this Salvia mexicana is native to Mexico's eastern Sierra Madre range in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas on the Gulf of Mexico.
In its homeland, Ocampo Mexican Sage grows on the edges of oak and pine forests. So it does well under tall, deciduous trees and at the margins of moist woodlands in USDA Zones 8 to 11 where it blooms in fall.
Give this hummingbird favorite well-drained, rich soil and regular watering. It works well as a screen or background planting or in tall borders and cut flower gardens. Container planting is fine, but limits height.
(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.
(Rosy Bract Sage) Sub-shrub salvias have both woody and soft, herbaceous growth. Rosy Bract Sage is a tidy, small leafed sub-shrub that grows about 2 feet tall and wide. It is smothered with large clusters of 1/2-inch, violet-blue flowers and rosy red bracts that deepen to rusty burgundy as the season proceeds.
This water-loving, mounding sage is hardy to USDA Zones 8 to 11. Give it partial shade, rich soil and ample water, and it will give you a stunning, long-blooming floral display beginning in spring. You can use Salvia rubiginosa as a groundcover, path edging or part of perennial borders and pathway edging. It is a good choice for damp woodland gardens.
This native of southern coastal Mexico and Guatamala is also one of our favorite container plants. It seems to bloom the entire growing season.
(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.
(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.
(Anthony Parker Bush Sage) Floriferous spikes of dark blue to purple flowers bloom midsummer to fall on this tidy, mid-height subshrub that grows as wide as it is tall.
Anthony Parker Bush Sage is a chance hybrid that garden designer Frances Parker discovered in her South Carolina garden in 1994 and named for her grandson. It appears to be a cross between Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha 'Midnight') and Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) and is perennial in areas with moderate winters.
Although not aromatic, the gray-green, heart-shaped leaves are similar to those of Pineapple Sage, including their attractive veining. Anthony Parker Bush Sage's flowers -- lovely in cut-flower arrangements -- reflect those of Mexican Sage, but are darker and more slender.
Hummingbirds love this full-sun sage, which makes it a valuable addition to wildlife habitat. We love it too and give it our "best of class" designation as the best blue-blossomed, fall-flowering sage for your garden.
Our photograph of this variety is not particularly good. Here is a link to a better one on Pinterest.
(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.
It is ironic that one of the least social types of birds inspires so much sociability in human beings. We refer to hummingbirds, which are the object of festivals and the communal effort of bird banding research nationwide. This is the third and final article in a series about renowned hummingbird expert Nancy L. Newfield, who grows many Salvias in her hummingbird gardens. We recount a visit to Louisiana to observe Newfield and her team banding hummingbirds in winter. You'll also find a rainbow of top hummingbird Salvias listed here.(Photo credit: John Owens)
Nature doesn't come to a sudden, overall halt, when the timing of its ecosystems slip, including ones involving hummingbirds. Instead, change occurs gradually. Plants and the animals that pollinate them have coevolved to meet each other's needs. An example is the long beaks of hummingbirds and deep, tubular flowers. Both sides of this survival equation suffer when the phenology -- or timing -- of hummingbird and plant connections is thrown off. Recent scientific studies explore these shifts and climate change. You can help by planting hummingbird habitat in your home garden. We detail ten nectar-rich Salvias and companion plants that are hummingbird favorites.
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.