(Blue Milkweed) It's not unusual to see the sky-blue, star-shaped flowers of Tweedia caerulea tucked into bridal bouquets. Yet they are members of the humble milkweed family Asclepiadaceae.
Blue Milkweed is a heat-loving species that grows best in a location with full sun and access to a bit of shade. It is native to Uruguay and Southern Brazil and can be planted as a perennial in USDA Cold Hardiness Zones with moderate winter weather. However, it works well as an annual in other zones. You can encourage branching by pinching the flower buds back when growth is young.
Other common names for Blue Milkweed include Southern Star, Star of the Argentine, Silkpods and Star Flower. Another scientific synonym is Oxypetalum coeruleum. Sometimes its petals have lovely purple speckles.
This milkweed is widely grown in New Zealand to provide nectar and host caterpillars for Monarch butterflies.
Caerulea is Latin for blue. In contrast, the genus name honors James Tweedie (1775-1862), the Scottish gardener and plant explorer who found the species in South America during the first half of the 19th century. At the age of 50, Tweedie immigrated to South America and traveled throughout the continent collecting plants to send back to Scotland. He is best known for introducing wild petunias to Europe, which became wildly popular hybrids worldwide.
(Lion's Ear or Wild Dagga) "Leon" is Greek for "lion," whereas "otis" translates as "ear." The appellation "leonurus" equals "lion colored." Actually, we think the tawny orange blossoms of this mint family (Lamiaceae) species look more like a lion's mane.
The flowers grow in tiered whorls along velvety stems so tall they may rise above your head. When crushed, the plant's lance-shaped leaves are fragrant similar to many mint-family species.
Lion's Ear is native to rocky grasslands in South Africa. It is a tropical shrub that forms clumps and grows rapidly. It combines soft herbaceous growth with woodiness at the base of its stems. Pollinators, including butterflies, are attracted to Lion's Ear nectar, which is plentiful. In South Africa, where it is mainly called Wild Dagga, parts of the shrub are used medicinally to sooth coughs, dysentery, fevers and headaches.
Lion's Ear is perennial in areas with mild climates and works well as an annual in regions with cold winter temperatures. It is a fine Salvia companion, particularly as a long-blooming background planting.
(Stormy Pink Autumn Sage) The dramatic name of this floriferous Autumn Sage is due to the calyxes cupping its smoky apricot-pink blossoms. Some gardeners report gray calyxes and others say dark plum. But for whatever reason, the Stormy Pink that we grow on our Northern California coastal farm has green calyxes with dark stripes.
Different soils and local conditions can create mysterious differences in the same Salvia species.
American expatriate and horticulturist Derry Watkins discovered Stormy Pink as a chance seedling at her Special Plants nursery in England. Similar to all Salvia greggii, it is a sturdy, long-blooming plant with a froth of fragrant green foliage made up of tiny, elliptical leaves.
Autumn Sage is native to America and Mexico. Stormy Pink is one of its taller varieties unless it gets too much partial shade and becomes lax. It grows best in full sun, which helps to limit the branches tendency to laxness.
This heat-tolerant perennial also needs well-drained soil but isn't picky about its composition. Although it thrives with average watering based on local rainfall, Stormy Pink is drought tolerant.
This is an Autumn Sage to mass, because butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds love it.
(White Mischief Mexican Bush Sage) Profuse white blossoms and true white velvety bracts make the flowers of this South African hybrid a lovely choice for a wedding. In our experience, many of the plants sold as White Mischief are not the real thing. This tough, compact, long blooming sage is.
Although its flowers are white, we've noticed that hummingbirds love this Salvia leucantha, which blooms summer into fall. Butterflies are also partial to it, but luckily deer keep their distance.
Plant this heat-loving herbaceous perennial in full sun and well-drained soil. It is elegant in shrubby borders, large containers and cut-flower gardens.
(Black Stem Mountain Sage) Intense cardinal red flowers, stiff black stems and large, ribbed, green leaves make this Salvia microphylla stand out. Its color and upright growth make it dramatic amid a group of soft, rounded Salvias.
Mountain Sage usually ranges from 24 to 48 inches tall. This is one of the larger varieties. The species is native to the American Southwest, most parts of Mexico and sometimes is found further south in Guatemala and Belize.
Mountain sages grow well in full sun and partial shade. This one does very well in partial shade and even blooms in full shade. Due to originating in the warmer climes of Belize, it is less cold hardy than many cultivars of the species.
In USDA Zones 8 to 9, Black Stem blooms from spring to fall, but with little production in summer. Except for good drainage, it isn't picky about its soil. Depending on local conditions, it may fit into either a perennial or shrub border. Black Stem also looks pretty as a background planting or screen. Heat and drought tolerant, it does well in dry and native gardens. We highly recommend it, and so do hummingbirds.
(Lilac Sage) We try not to brag too much, but this is our own variety of Salvia verticillata from home-grown seed, and we think it is spectacular. Butterflies and honeybees also are in love with this long-blooming, heat-tolerant perennial.
Spring into summer, dense whorls of blue-to-smoky lavender flowers cover 3-foot-tall spikes arising from fragrant, mint-green, basal foliage. This native of Europe and Central Asia is lovely when mixed in cut-flower arrangements.
Although it only needs average watering based on local conditions, Lilac Sage works well in moist areas. It looks pretty in borders and containers and as a pathway edging. Give it full sun or partial shade in USDA Zones 5 to 9.
We offer this plant at a very reasonable price in order to encourage its widespread planting. When you grow Salvia verticillata, you help us help the honeybees and other beneficial insects pollinating gardens.
(Celestial Blue Sage) Fast growing and adaptable, this sage is a chance hybrid between Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii) -- also called California Blue Sage -- and California Rose Sage (Salvia pachyphylla). It may also be related to California Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla).
Celestial Blue has lovely royal blue flowers and purple bracts. Sun-loving, heat tolerant and drought resistant, it was discovered at Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery in Southern California.
This fragrant sage blooms and blooms throughout the heat of summer. Tolerant of everything but wet feet during summer, it withstands winter temperatures as low as 10 degrees F for a short time as well as lows in the 20-degree range for days.
Use this pretty plant in tough soils, on banks and in areas where watering is difficult or undesirable. Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds love it, but deer leave it alone. This cultivar is one of the best Salvias for cut-flower arrangements.
(Tangerine Ballet Hybrid Jame Sage) Soft pinkish-orange flowers with contrasting yellow eyes make this Jame Sage look as tasty as sorbet. Hardy to at least 10 degrees F, Tangerine Ballet is also heat tolerant, drought resistant and long blooming-- all marks of Salvias in the closely related Autumn and Mountain Sage group.
Jame Sage is a cross of Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii), Mountain Sage (Salvia microphylla) and, possibly, other Salvia species. Determining a Jame Sage's precise parentage can be complicated, because one or both of its Autumn/Mountain sage parents may also be hybrids. This hybrid-of-a-hybrid phenomenon may be the case for Tangerine Ballet, which is one of our taller Jame Sage varieties.
Native to Mexico and the American Southwest, Jame Sage occurs in areas where the closely related species of Autumn Sage and Mountain Sage meet, such as near the Village of Jame in Mexico's Sierra Madre Mountains.
Upright in form with leaves that closely resemble the tiny, smooth foliage of its Autumn Sage parent, Tangerine Ballet is perfect massed as a groundcover or in spots calling for small shrubbery, such as path edges. Jame Sage loves full sun, but tolerates a bit of shade.
Highly recommended by butterflies, honeybees, hummingbirds and gardeners!
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.