Hummingbird Falls Sage: Answers to Your Questions

First posted on May 19, 2022

Hummingbird Falls Sage: Answers to Your Questions

Hummingbirds are vital pollinators. But to survive and help keep gardens blooming, they need access to flowers like Salvias that produce plentiful rich nectar and attract insects (protein for hummingbirds).

Salvia BODACIOUS® ‘Hummingbird Falls’ fills the bill. It is also the first hanging basket Salvia available commercially and a natural alternative to plastic hummingbird feeders.

We hybridized Hummingbird Falls in our plant development program at Flowers by the Sea Farm and Online Nursery, then began producing it for sale in 2022. Our phones and email have been buzzing with customer questions about this unique and vigorous hummingbird plant. Here are our answers.

What Is Salvia BODACIOUS® ‘Hummingbird Falls’?

Hummingbird Falls is a kind of Anise-Scented Sage (Salvia guaranitica) that is ideal for hanging baskets due to its relaxed branches and long, bountiful, bloom time. Although its branches rise vertically when Hummingbird Falls is first planted, they soon cascade. Hummingbird Falls won the National Garden Bureau’s 2022 Green Thumb Award for best annual due to its vivid violet-blue flowers, heat tolerance, innovative cascading form, and strong attraction for hummingbirds.

What size of hanging basket do I need for Hummingbird Falls?

Your basket should measure at least 12 inches across.  On our farm, we grow multiple sets in 18-inch baskets and find that size to be rewarding. Baskets with broader diameters encourage larger, more lush plant growth because they easily accommodate more than one plant.

How many plants do I need for one basket?

Although one plant eventually will display well, multiple plants fill a basket faster.  Commercial producers that stock garden centers with hanging baskets of Hummingbird Falls create a full look by growing at least three plants in a 12-inch basket.

Does the kind of basket I use make a difference in growing Hummingbird Falls successfully?

Yes. Avoid shallow baskets because they only allow a small volume of potting soil.  An insufficient amount dries rapidly, and this causes soil temperature to rise too high. Also, the basket should provide one or more holes for good drainage.

What about growing Hummingbird Falls in a pot?

Hummingbird Falls is a good choice for containers, but choose a tall pot for best display. This bountifully blooming sage may cascade two feet or more in a season. That’s why it grows so well in hanging baskets.

What kind of potting soil should I use?

Never use garden soil. Instead, select a quality potting mix made for hanging baskets and containers. You’ll find lots of information in the FBTS guide How to Select & Amend Potting Soils.

Can I grow Hummingbird Falls in the ground?

Although Hummingbird Falls is groundbreaking among Salvias, its cascading — instead of trailing — form makes it a poor choice for in-ground planting.

How long does Hummingbird Falls bloom?

This sage generally blooms throughout the growing season.  Start and stop times for bloom depend on local growing conditions. As the stems of Hummingbird Falls get long, you can encourage fresh flowering by trimming them back. You can also encourage strong new growth mid-season by cutting the stems to about 4 inches above their base.

Do I need to deadhead Hummingbird Falls?

Removing spent blossoms encourages flowering in many plants. However, deadheading isn’t necessary with Hummingbird Falls, because its branches retain their attractive black bracts long after its flowers drop. Also, Hummingbird Falls rarely sets seed, so you don’t have to worry about this plant reseeding where you don’t want it to grow. But here is more information on deadheading and pruning other kinds of Salvias in your garden.

Does Hummingbird Falls need regular watering?

Yes. All Anise-Scented Sages are water lovers. For successful cultivation, never let Hummingbird Falls completely dry out. Frequency of watering depends on your local precipitation and humidity.

Does Hummingbird Falls need fertilizer?

Yes, but not immediately because we ship well-fertilized plants to you. Beginning about two weeks after planting Hummingbird Falls, you can maximize its flowering and good appearance with regular application of fertilizer.  Some Salvias, like Anise-Scented Sages, need fertilizer whereas others do not. The FBTS Guide to Understanding & Using Fertilizer clarifies these differences and explains the role of compost as well as fertilizer.

How hardy is Hummingbird Falls?

Hardiness is a term used to describe a plant’s cold tolerance. The USDA classifies plant hardiness according to winter temperature zones.

If planted in the ground (once again, not a good choice), Hummingbird Falls might tolerate Zone 7 chill. But here is an important fact to remember about all plants grown in containers: They are more prone to winter damage than those grown in the ground. The roots of plants in garden beds are better insulated from winter cold by their abundant surrounding soil. Yet whether grown in ground or in containers, for Anise-Scented Sages any amount of exposure to freezing temperatures causes dieback of all foliage. Here are some tips for attempting to overwinter Salvias indoors.

How much sun does Hummingbird Falls require?

For maximum flowering and best appearance, grow Hummingbird Falls in full sun, which is defined as six or more hours of direct sunlight daily. In hot climates, pay extra attention to keeping its soil moist. Although Hummingbird Falls tolerates partial shade, it produces more flowers in full sun. 

More Answers to Your Questions

At FBTS, we grow all the plants we sell through our online nursery. This gives us plentiful opportunity to provide you with top quality stock and to observe plant growth habits. We know our plants well and are always glad to answer your questions about how to help them thrive. So, please feel free to contact us if you have any extra questions about Salvia BODACIOUS® ‘Hummingbird Falls’ or any plant we grow.

Alicia Rudnicki for FBTS

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