(Scarlet O'Hara Hardy Gloxinia) This plant's long, tubular, creamy pink flowers dangle from apple-green, leaf-like calyxes. Fuzzy red petioles connect the flowers to deep red stems rising above rich green foliage. This older hybrid of two South American species can handle a bit of winter chill.
Hummingbirds enjoy gloxinias. By planting Hardy Gloxinia and other hummingbird favorites in a setting devised for close-up observation, you have a front-row seat for hummer antics during the growing season. It's a fine choice for a patio planter or rock garden.
The flower tubes of gloxinias are referred to as having fused petals. Some, such as the white-flowered, hybrid parent Sinningia incarnata, are barrel-shaped similar to a cigar-style Cuphea. Others, such as the red-flowered species S. tubiflora, have lacy corollas at their openings. Similar to most Sinningias, Scarlet O' Hara's roots are tuberous.
The elliptical, veined leaves are also interesting due to being smooth with a slightly pitted texture and having fine eyelash hairs on their edges.
This is a petite perennial that prefers rich, well-drained soil and locations with full sun to partial shade. As part of the Sinningia genus, it's a member of the Gesneriad family (Gesneriaceae), which is probably best known for African Violets (Saintpaulia genus).
Sinningias are named for Willhelm Sinning (1792-1874) who was a gardener at Germany's University of Bonn Botanical Garden. Sinning co-authored the 1825 book A Collection of Beautiful Flowering Plants, which contained one of the first botanical illustrations of a gloxinia.
(Sacred flower of the Incas) Long reddish blossoms with flared, trumpet-like corollas and bright blue pollen contrast with mid-green foliage in the long-blooming, South American species Cantua buxifolia.
To be more specific about color, the flowers are magenta to red-orange. They grow in clusters of 12 or more on these tall shrubs that are evergreen in areas with mild winter temperatures. In its native lands, this heat tolerant plant grows on the margins of forests. For best results, give it full sun to partial shade and rich, well-drained soil. You'll be rewarded with visits from butterflies and hummingbirds.
Mostly known as "Kantu" or "Cantuta" in Peru and Bolivia where it is considered a national flower, Cantua buxifolia also grows in the Yungas mountains of Northern Argentina. Aside from reds, different varieties of the species offer pink, yellow and white flowers.
Cantua is a Latinization of qantu -- the species' original name from the native Quechuan people of the Andes. Buxifolia refers to the shrub's boxwood-style foliage.
Considered sacred in Andean cultures, reddish Kantu flowers often are used decoratively during during holy days. Perhaps because of their sizeable, tubular flowers, Kantu is a word also used to describe musical groups that play Andean flutes similar to pan pipes.
(Orange Bat-Faced Cuphea) A corolla of irregularly sized petals -- two tall and four short -- give the opening of this Cuphea's bright red-orange flowers a bat-like look. Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds love the abundant, nectar-rich, cylindrical blossoms that flower nearly year round in areas with mild climates.
San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum notes that the floral structure of a Cuphea often is referred to as a calyx flower, because calyx and flower are one rather than being separate.
In contrast to the more humorous bat faces of bicolor Cupheas, the blossoms of Cuphea oreophila are a solid color except for some variation in the red of the petals.
In Greek, oreo refers to "mountain" and phila means "to love." Put the terms together and you have a "mountain-loving" plant. However, it grows beautifully in low-altitude coastal areas as well.
Lance-shaped, mid-green leaves cover the slender stems of this subshrub, which has both woody and soft herbaceous growth. Orange Bat-Faced Cuphea forms a weed-suppressing mat of foliage.
This heat-tolerant Cuphea grows well in full sun to partial shade. In areas with chilly winters, it works well as a houseplant or seasonal bedding choice. Outdoors, it is good for edging, container planting and suppressing weeds as groundcover. Although it thrives with average watering based on local conditions, this is a water-loving plant and can serve as a solution in moist areas of your yard.
Overall there are 260 species of Cupheas and most are native to Mexico, South America, the Caribbean and parts of the American South.
Floriferous and heat tolerant, Cuphea schumannii is also a long-blooming addition to wildlife gardens. Similar to Salvias, Cupheas are rich sources of nectar that fuel hummingbird migration. Bees, butterflies and hoverflies are among the other pollinators that love this genus.
The bright orange flowers of Cuphea schumannii don't have corollas. Their barrel-shaped blossoms merge flower with calyx and are called tube-calyx flowers. White-and-green fringed tips make the blossoms look a bit like burning cigars or firecrackers.
Overall there are 260 species of Cupheas -- members of the Lythraceae family -- and most are native to Mexico, South America, the Caribbean and parts of the American South. Some have tiny petals at the end of their tube calyxes in contrast to cigar-style Cupheas. All are fine companions in Salvia gardens.
Cupheas are perennial in climates with moderate winters where they grow well in full sun to partial shade. Outdoors, they are fine groundcover, edging or container plants. Although they thrive with average watering based on local conditions, Cupheas are water-loving plants that can serve as a solution in moist areas of your yard. In areas with cooler winters, Cuphea schumannii can be a houseplant or seasonal bedding choice.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(Mystery Peruvian Sage) Airy spikes of fuzzy, bright orange-red flowers and grassy green calyxes mark this Peruvian sage as a mystery worth pursuing. Little is certain about its parentage.
The UK's leading Salvia expert, Robin Middleton, notes, at his Robin's Salvias website, that the University of Reading is studying SL411.
SL411 may be related to three kinds of Salvias, including striata, S. squalens or S. tubiflora.
Middleton says that it is the large leaves of SL411 that seem to connect it to S. squalens.
SL411 is a long-blooming, high-altitude sage that grows rapidly and easily in full sun to partial shade with rich but well-drained soil. It is a water-loving tender perennial. Hummingbirds enjoy its nectar.
(Hardy Pink & Yellow Gloxinia) This color form is rarely seen in Sinningia sellovii, which is a Brazilian species that tolerates heat and lures hummingbirds.
Sinningia sellovii 'Pink & Yellow' is a relatively cold hardy variety with bountiful, tube-shaped blossoms somewhat similar in appearance to the flowers of Cupheas. The flowers are a deep rosy-pink, with yellow markings on the inside.
The blossoms are pleasingly fuzzy whereas the dark green, veined, elliptical leaves are mostly smooth with slight pitting and fine eyelash hairs on their edges.
The Sinningia genus is named for German botanist Wilhelm Sinning (1792-1874) of Bonn's Friedrich-Wilhelms University Botanic Garden. Sinning hybridized the species in the 19th century.
Sinningias once were considered part of the Gloxinia genus. When their classification changed, people continued referring to them as Gloxinias.
Hardy Pink & Yellow Gloxinia is a petite perennial with a tuberous root. It prefers rich, well-drained soil and locations with full sun to partial shade. It's a member of the Gesneriad family (Gesneriaceae), which is probably best known for African violets (Saintpaulia genus).
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.