Mexico is a land of almost unimaginable plant diversity, including the highest concentration of native sages (Salvia spp.) in the world. It is home to nearly a third of the approximately 900 Salvia species worldwide.
The rich biodiversity of Mexico is due, in part, to its many types of climates from the deserts of Northern Mexico and Baja to the mountainous cloud forests at its southern boundary with Guatemala.
Salvia is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae). Although Lamiaceae is only the eighth largest plant family in Mexico, Salvia is one of the country's largest genuses. It is a genus with species fit for many climates, which is exactly what Mexico has. Consequently, Mexican sages grow beautifully in many parts of America. Some are even cold hardy to USDA Zone 5.
One factor that causes Mexico's climate to vary so much despite its closeness to the equator is the country's up-and-down geography; it is a land of many mountains and numerous changes in elevation. Some peaks -- such as the volcano Pico de Orizaba near the port of Veracruz in southeastern Mexico -- are topped with snow and glaciers year round even when their lower slopes are hot in summer.
Mexican native species range from drought-tolerant sages that grow best if given little water and lots of sunlight to ones that can take heat, but prefer partial shade and plentiful moisture. They tend to be long-blooming plants with a rainbow of flower colors.
Many Mexican sages are fragrant. On warm summer days, they lend a heady perfume to the landscape when planted near home entryways or as borders along walkways. They include low-growing groundcovers as well as plants so tall, wide and floriferous that a group planting forms a dramatic privacy screen.
Some of these plants are the source of age-old folk remedies and the focus of current medical research; their potential health benefits are modern day treasure. And here is one more thing that is golden about Mexican native sages: these lovely additions to home gardens require little fuss.
(Blue Chiquita Sage) This unusual and now rare variety was first discovered by the Yucca Do Nursery during their 1997 expedition in Mexico. Growing into a small, tight mound with silvery-blue leaves, it explodes in the fall with pale blue flowers on tall spikes.
(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.
(Oaxaca Red Sage) This rare sage has small, furry, bright orange-red flowers in abundance. It grows nicely in containers or, in mild climates, can become a large shrub in the ground. Attractive, bright green foliage and winter-to-summer blooming make it a desirable choice.
(Bitter Mexican Sage) Hummingbirds love this heat-tolerant Salvia, which is one of our best choices for shady, moist areas. The large-lipped, baby-blue flowers with white striations bloom from late summer through fall.
(Double Saw Tooth Sage) Vivid deep violet flowers bloom from summer into fall and contrast prettily with the bright green, rumply foliage of this tall sage from southeastern Mexico. Belgian botanist and orchid lover Jean Jules Linden was the first to record its discovery in 1838, according to records on file at Britain’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
(Eyelash Sage) All Salvia blepharophylla varieties are native to Mexico, but this one was hybridized in Germany by plant breeder Christiaan Unger. Hairs on the edge of the sageâs dark green leaves give it the appearance of having eyelashes. It is a compact, slightly mounding Salvia that spreads gradually by underground stolons.
(Diablo Eyelash Sage) Small, eyelash-like hairs on the edge of its leaves give this Mexican native part of its name. It earns "Diablo," which means "devil" in Spanish, from the two yellow stamens that stand up out of each flower like horns.
(Painted Lady Eyelash Sage) Small, eyelash-like hairs on the edge of its leaves give this Mexican native part of its name. A compact, gently mounding Salvia, it spreads gradually by underground stolons.
(Temascaltepec Sage) In full bloom, which is all year in mild climates, this mid-sized Salvia has far more flowers than foliage. Each 1/2-inch-long, bright pink bloom has two dark pink/purple spots and a pair of white stripes. The small, slightly furry leaves add to its soft, pleasing look.
(Blue Sky Mexican Sage) The small flowers of this plant from Neuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, Mexico, are an attractive combination of amethyst-purple and white. The spectacular leaves, which are large and lightly textured, appear blue-green on top and purple-green underneath.
(Cedros Island Sage) From the Island of Cedars off the coast of Baja California Sur comes this delightful xeric sage with deep violet-blue flowers and silvery foliage. The square-shaped, 1-inch-long leaves are densely covered with downy, short, white hairs providing moisture retention.
(Silver Germander Sage) With its compact habit, brilliant silver-white leaves and large, sky blue flowers, this is an outstanding heat-tolerant choice for dry, sunny gardens. We consider this to be one of the finest short ground covers for these conditions.
(Marine Blue Sage) The name and origin of this fine cultivar has long been in dispute. It may be a clone or hybrid of the Mexican plant Salvia chamaedryoides var.isochroma. It is one of the prettiest, strongest sages we grow.
(Snowflake Sage) Wiry, trailing stems of small white leaves make this plant look like fresh snowfall. Numerous, small, sky blue flowers with prominent bee lines further add to the cooling look. This dry-garden plant is native to the mountains of the Chihuahuan desert of North Central Mexico.
(Cinnabar Sage) Think of this plant as Pineapple Sage on steroids. It grows 5 feet tall and can be twice as wide and bursts with large, intensely red, furry flowers all winter. Our overwintering hummingbirds adore it. This cinnabar-red sage is hard to forget once you see it in full bloom.
(Michoacan Blue Sage) This unusual and distinctive Mexican sage grows from tuberous roots. It is compact and decidedly vertical with strong, square, winged stems that rocket upward and are topped with clusters of rich blue flowers in large rosy bracts come autumn.
(Pink Tehuacan Sage) Large clusters of big, fuzzy, hot magenta-pink flowers top the elegant foliage of this Mexican sage. It is long blooming beginning in late spring and does well in full sun or partial shade. We want to help spread this rare sage that deserves to be widely planted.
(Vermilion Bluffs® Mexican Sage) The brilliant red flowers of Vermilion Bluffs bloom abundantly from August to October. This variety of the Mexican native Salvia darcyi is cold hardy to Zone 5b at altitudes up to 5,500 feet.
(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 Super Scarlet Rooster Sage) From the mountains of Mexico we have this stunning Sage, which seems never to be out of bloom. A superior hummingbird plant, the warm orange flowers that cover this shrubby perennial make it a standout in the garden.