America is a vast country with different growing conditions and native species from one part of the nation to another. It's estimated that there are 20,000 native species in America. Of those, about 45 are from the Salvia genus.
Most native gardens are based on plants that occur naturally in the wild in specific regions. However, some native gardens encompass American natives from a number of regions dependent on their ability to prosper in local growing conditions. So it isn't uncommon to find Southwestern sages in an East Coast garden of American natives.
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas, Austin, is a regional example dedicated to native species from Texas and the Southwest. In contrast, the native garden at the New England Wildflower Society's headquarters in Massachusetts -- The Garden in the Woods -- focuses on a broad array of American native plants.
At Flowers by the Sea we define American native plants as ones occurring in the wild, and in varying parts of America, prior to European exploration. The plants in our list include Salvia species and related hybrids as mint family members from other genuses that are closely related to true sages. Our collection includes species from states as far flung as Hawaii and New Jersey. However, most are from California, the Southwest and Texas.
Aside from being pretty and providing food and habitat for local wildlife, native sages are easy to maintain if your local conditions meet their needs. For example, a drought-tolerant plant that is ideal for dry gardens most likely won't thrive in an area with frequent torrential rains. We recommend Patricia A. Taylor's book, Easy Care Native Plants, for a deep perspective on native plant gardening.
(Dancing Dolls Sage) Sages can be such tough plants. Many, such as Salvia 'Dancing Dolls', withstand heat and drought yet have delicate looking blossoms. Dancing Dolls features cream and rose bicolor flowers.
(Fancy Dancer Sage) Sages can be such tough plants withstanding heat and drought. Yet so many, including Salvia 'Fancy Dancer' have delicate looking blossoms. This one has bicolor flowers combining light and hot pink tones.
(Golden Girl Sage) Sages can be such tough plants. Many, such as Salvia 'Golden Girl', withstand heat and drought yet have delicate looking blossoms. Golden Girl features yellow flowers with a hint of rosy pink along with dark rose calyxes.
(Orchid Glow Sage) Sages can be such tough plants withstanding heat and drought. Yet so many, including Salvia 'Orchid Glow' have delicate looking blossoms. This one has large, bright magenta flowers with white beelines.
(Arizona Blue Sage) We are so impressed with this top-performing, drought-resistant ground cover that we have rated it best of class. Arizona Blue Sage is adaptable to a variety of shady conditions and blossoms so abundantly that it seems to have as many rich blue flowers as it has leaves. It is native to dry, shaded areas in mountain canyons in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
(Arizona Deep Blue Sage) In contrast to the lavender-blue flowers of Arizona Blue Sage (Salvia arizonica), the blossoms of Arizona Deep Blue are nearly purple. They are the kind of deep lavender that you might see in a southwestern sunset.
(Prairie Sage) Native to a large part of the central United States, this perennial Salvia is a beloved wildflower, delighting us with large cerulean blue flowers. Hummingbirds and butterflies love it as well.
(Mejorana) In Spanish, Mejorana means ‘marjoram.” Similar to oregano-type Marjoram – another Mint family member -- this sage is used to flavor meat dishes. Our cultivar, which is native to Texas and Mexico, has lovely bluish-purple flowers that bloom summer to fall amid fragrant, fine, furry green foliage.
(Cleveland Sage or California Blue Sage) A California native plant garden is not complete without a Cleveland Sage. This particular cultivar has deeper blue flowers with a purple overlay as well as deep purple calyxes. Due to its height and drought resistance, it is ideal for back of border in a dry garden or for use as a screen.
(Windwalker® Royal Red Salvia) Salvia darcyi x S. microphylla 'PWIN03S' is one of the top 2015 plants for USDA Cold Hardiness Zone 5 selected by Colorado's Plant Select®, a nonprofit organization that focuses on promoting plants for low-water gardens.
(Elk Pomegranate Autumn Sage) We're proud to say that this is an FBTS cultivar. It is one of the finest dark flowered, compact Autumn Sage varieties we have seen. Its extraordinarily large, raspberry blossoms bloom from spring into fall.
(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.
(Grace Pink Autumn Sage) Dark hot pink flowers and contrasting, dark bracts make this Autumn Sage stand out. Originally fom the JC Raulston Arboretum in North Carolina. This variety is large but compact, rugged, heat tolerant and capable of handling Zone 6 chill.
(Lipstick Autumn Sage) Similar to a little bit of lipstick on a pretty face, the rosy flowers of this hardy, heat-tolerant sage add a finishing touch to a perennial Salvia border. The creamy pinkish-red blossoms have a contrasting white throat and are cupped by rosy brown calexes on long spikes.
(Navajo Autumn Sage) Even a hint of blue is unusual among Autumn Sage flowers. Salvia greggii 'Navajo Purple' is a rarity due to its magenta-purple blossoms, which hint at natural hybridization including a mystery parent in the blue range, such as Salvia lycioides.
(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.