(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.
Exceptionally cold-tolerant varieties of Salvia darcyi (Mexican Sage) and Salvia microphylla (Mountain Sage) are rare. This floriferous cross of the two species tolerates winter chill down to -20 degrees F in dry climate areas.
Windwalker® is a series of xeric, high-altitude plants created by Coloradan plantsman Kelly Grummons of the Denver metro area's former Timberline Gardens. We find that it also grows well on our coastal farm in Northern California. In wet winter areas it needs special treatment - very cold and wet is a combination that is difficult for this variety.
Unlike Plant Select's equally cold-resistant S. darcyi 'Vermilion Bluffs', which blooms most heavily from late summer to fall, Windwalker® Royal Red Salvia begins flowering in June. Burgundy calyxes and stems support its blood-red flowers and contrast dramatically with mid-green foliage. Both plants are native to the American Southwest and Mexico.
This wide-spreading, heat-tolerant perennial loves full sun. It attracts honeybees and hummingbirds, yet doesn't inspire munching by deer. Give it average watering based on local conditions. However, this is a tough plant that resists drought.
Plant Select notes that this Windwalker® hybrid is adaptable to loam, clay and sandy soils that drain well. Clay, of course, is rich in nutrients. Add plenty of organic matter, such as compost, for good drainage. On the other extreme, sandy soils become richer with the addition of compost.
Learn more about how we analyze plant colors
We based our analysis of this plant’s floral and foliar color on the internationally standardized color system published by the U.K.’s Royal Horticultural Society. Called the RHS Large Colour Charts, this publication is a boxed set of color swatches arranged in fans and containing all the colors that RHS has identified in horticulture. RHS gives each color a common name and code number.
Each swatch has a small hole punched into it. We place the swatch over a flower petal and compare the blossom’s color to that of the card. When using RHS colors to compare plants that you want to combine in a flowerbed, in bouquets or in some other manner, RHS says to view them indoors in north light. If you are matching our digital swatches to flowers already in your garden, pluck two or three fully open blossoms of each plant that requires analysis.
You may find that the plant you receive from FBTS varies somewhat in color from what appears in our color analysis or our photograph due to a number of factors, including:
- Variations in photographic colors based on lighting level at different times of day
- Differences in the resolution of digital screens
- Seasonal changes in plant color due to changes in temperature and plant cycle and
- pH or soil chemistry that varies from one locale to another and causes color shifts.
Finally, RHS notes that you shouldn’t attempt color matching when your eyes are fatigued.
See other plants with similar colors
See other plants with colors in a split complementary relationship
See other plants with colors in a triadic relationship
Here are some guidelines for success with this plant in your garden.
Click on an individual icon for more detailed information.
This plant needs or tolerates more than six hours of intense sunlight daily. Many Salvias only thrive in wide-open locations where they receive long hours of full sun. However, full-sun species sometimes tolerate a bit of partial shade. Or a Salvia that loves partial shade may be amenable to spending part of its time in full sun.
In general, this sun/shade adaptability shows up in Salvias that do best in cooler climates when grown in full sun and thrive in hot climates when partial shade is available. So full-sun Salvias sometimes are also categorized as partial-shade plants and vice versa.
This plant can handle extreme heat.
Full-sun Salvias that don’t like any shade are among the most heat tolerant. Heat-loving Salvias also are often drought tolerant. Moisture-conserving features, such as fuzzy leaves, help them stay perky at high temperatures.
Heat-tolerant Salvias are fine choices for western and southern exposures.
This plant grows well in an outdoor container, such as on a patio.
Some containerized Salvias leaf out and flower year after year following a period of dormancy. Annuals in containers may die back and appear to grow again when they reseed.
During extreme heat, check the soil in container plantings once or twice daily to be sure it doesn't completely dry out. Feel its surface for coolness, then gently poke a finger into the soil to check for dryness.
Plant hardiness Zones defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture tell you the minimum temperatures a plant can withstand in your garden. The USDA divides the nation into winter climate areas from coldest (Zone 1) to warmest (Zone 11).
However, it is sometimes possible to grow a Zone 6 Salvia as a perennial in Zone 5 if you provide preferential care, such as winter mulching and a location sheltered from harsh winds. In contrast, a Zone 9 Salvia may act like a perennial in Zone 10 if given a bit of shade or extra water.
To create a harmonious landscape plan, it is important to consider the heights of individual plants.
Height also affects function. Short Salvias often make excellent ground covers that conserve soil moisture and discourage weeds while also brightening your yard. Medium-height Salvias, such as ones 36 inches tall, often are ideal border plants. A tall Salvia planted singly can highlight a landscape; multiple plantings can form an attractive screen.
By considering the width of a plant, you can determine how many to place in a row or what other plants to grow with it.
For example, a narrow, moderate-height Salvia may look good interplanted with bushier species, kind of like Mutt and Jeff.
In contrast, wide-spreading Salvias are economical for hiding lengths of wall and fence or for creating hedge-like divisions in a yard.
Plant this herbaceous species in the USDA Zones where it grows as a perennial, returning year after year.
After dying back to the ground at frost, herbaceous perennials emerge in the Spring with soft, new growth. A Salvia that is perennial in one region, may be an annual in another depending on local conditions, such as winter temperatures.
If you live in USDA Zone 5, for example, Salvias in our catalog cited as growing well in Zone 5 or lower will be perennial. Those cited as doing well in Zones 6 or higher may do well in Zone 5, but generally will act like annuals coming back from seed instead of the parent plant’s roots.
This plant needs regular watering based on what is appropriate to your local conditions.
In some extremely hot, arid climates, this may mean daily watering in Summer. Although many drought-resistant Salvias survive on little to no watering due to local rainfall and deep roots meeting their moisture needs, others need regular doses. The size and frequency of the dose depends on your climate.
In the right locale, this plant survives and thrives despite minimal summer water.
Drought resistance is an important characteristic of xeriscapic – dry landscape – plants, a category that includes a multitude of Salvias. Many low-water Salvias are native to parts of the world with little rainfall all year or regions where summers are dry and winters are wet.
Nevertheless, there are also drought-resistant Salvias for places such as Florida where winters are dry and summers are wet.
This plant reaches peak bloom in Fall or flowers for much of the season.
It may begin flowering much earlier in the year. Bloom time for some Salvias lasts from Spring till first frost. Others begin flowering in Summer and continue into Fall. There are also Salvias that don’t bloom until late Fall and continue into Winter if grown in mild-Winter areas.
There is a great deal of overlap in blooming seasons for Salvias.
Honeybees love this plant’s nectar. As a honeybee burrows down into a Salvia’s nectar-rich flowers to reach dinner, it accidentally gathers pollen and drops it on the stigma of that blossom or of ones on other nearby Salvias. Fertilization results in seed production.
By growing honeybee favorites, you attract these helpful pollinators to all your flowering plants and increase productivity
Unless local forage is in short supply, most deer likely will avoid this plant.
It appears that deer dislike Salvias, in general, due to their volatile oils that make the plants so fragrant and savory in cooking. However, the only completely deer-proof plants are the ones grown beyond reach.
Based on our experience and reports from customers, hummingbirds (Trochilidae spp.) love this plant.
Hummingbirds exist only in the Americas where their 300-plus species are particularly fond of the nectar in brightly colored Salvias from the Western Hemisphere. However, if favorites aren’t available, they dine on the nectar of most Salvias.
Hummingbirds repay thoughtful plantings by helping to pollinate your garden
(Elk Crimson Spires Sage) Dark, dusky red stems and calyxes add to the drama of large scarlet flowers and lively green foliage in our FBTS hybrid, Salvia x ‘Elk Crimson Spires’.
(Radio Red Autumn Sage) Dark calyxes support true red blossoms in Salvia greggii 'Radio Red', a 2015 introduction from the Darwin Perennials division of Ball Seed. Its tiny, smooth, elliptical leaves form a light, airy backdrop for the dramatic flowers.
(Light Pink Joy Sage) Salvia x 'AlegrÃa Light Pink' is one of the most vigorous new plants at Flowers by the Sea.Â It is a South American introduction from Roland Uria, an agronomy professor and plant researcher from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina. This select clone is a soft light pink shade.
(Windwalker® Desert Rose Sage) Hot pink flowers top glossy, mid-green foliage top Windwalker® Desert Rose Salvia. Due to drought resistance, Salvia x 'Desert Rose' is a great choice for dry gardens. However, this petite beauty also grows well with moderate watering.
(Scarlet Spires Sage) This is a brilliant cross between the sturdy D'Arcy's Sage (Salvia darcyi) and the beautifully colored 'Raspberry Delight' Littleleaf Sage (Salvia microphylla 'Raspberry Delight').
(Giant Purple Desert Sage) It’s best to plant this flamboyant native of the Southwest in spring or summer. However, once established, it tolerates winters from USDA Zones 5 to 9. Purple tubular flowers and burgundy bracts flare up its 10-inch flower spikes like flames on this softly rounded shrub.
(Big Red Sage) Hummingbirds and butterflies adore the large, deep red blossoms of Salvia penstemonoides, a once rare herbaceous perennial. Its long blooming, super tall flower spikes rise from a basal rosette of lemon-lime fragrant leaves the color of green apples.
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Planted three in a sunny, tough spot this spring. Each is at least six foot tall and covered with flowers. I have a hummer staked out in my desert willow trying to keep all the others away. Best salvia I have planted in the ground. Curious to see how it does in our generally dry Salt Lake City winters.
Posted: Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Hummingbirds love the nectar of Salvias, particularly red ones, which they can see but bees can't. Also, unlike most birds, hummingbirds can taste sweets and seek out flowers that produce lots of sugary nectar. However, nectar can be difficult to come by during drought. The Salvia genus is well known for its bright flowers, rich nectar and many drought-tolerant plants. We suggest five bright red, drought-tolerant Salvias that hummingbirds love.
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Posted: Saturday, August 8, 2015
Some Salvia collectors want to obtain a broad range of sages including all the new introductions on the market. But Flowers by the Sea can't and doesn't want to grow all the new cultivars available, partly because there is a growing abundance of Salvia introductions. Instead, FBTS focuses on selecting the most superior new plants even when introducing its own hybrids in its series of Rainbow Jame Sages. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature based on calls and emails received by FBTS.
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