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.
(Shaggy Chiapas Sage) This is a sweetheart! Glowing magenta flowers lure the eye as well as hummingbirds to this heat-tolerant sage. It begins blooming in late summer where weather is warm and in fall where it is cooler.
(Elk Sonoran Red Pineapple Sage) A new Pineapple Sage variety that has the traditional fruity fragrance but blooms much earlier in the season than the traditionally grown clone. Short and compact, it resembles the varieties 'Honey Melon' and 'Tangerine' size wise, but has the unmistakable aroma of ripe pineapples.
(Frieda Dixon Pineapple Sage) Most varieties of Salvia elegans have bright red flowers. But Frieda Dixon Pineapple Sage, which blooms abundantly beginning in late fall, has softer salmon-pink blossoms set against mid-green, lance-shaped leaves.
(Honey Melon Pineapple Sage) This is a short Pineapple Sage that is long blooming. It is the earliest and longest flowering of all the many varieties of Salvia elegans. We recommend it for indoor herb gardening as well as for outdoor borders and groundcovers.
(Tangerine Pineapple Sage) This citrus-scented cultivar is our smallest variety of Pineapple Sage. Worth growing just for the exotic scent of its leaves, this culinary sage is also one of the longest blooming plants in its species.
(Silly Mexican Sage) Also known as Salvia roscida, this close relative of Blue Sky Mexican Sage (Salvia caudata 'El Cielo Blue') has thousands of deep violet-blue flowers with prominent white bee lines.
(Cardinal Sage) Aptly named for its cardinal red, 2-inch-long flowers that glisten in the autumn sun, this full-sun sage blooms from fall into winter. Hummingbirds love it, but deer resist its charms. Growing up to 5 feet tall, it makes a fine herbaceous border plant or shrubby screen.
(Big Mexican Scarlet Sage) This heavily blooming Salvia from Mexico has heart-shaped leaves and spectacular flower spikes up to 18 inches long from winter through spring. The blooms are bright red-orange with rich purple-black calyxes.
(Cabrillo Giant Yellow Sage) Large apricot-yellow flowers are an attraction of this cross between two Mexican species -- Salvia madrensis (Forsythia Sage) and the volcanic sage Salvia gesneriiflora (Mexican Scarlet Sage).
(Ground Ivy Sage) Native to Central Mexico's highlands, this creeping perennial grows at a altitudes of more than 10,000 feet and can handle some chill. Its common name comes from its scalloped yellow-green leaves, which resemble Ground Ivy or Glechoma.
(Gravid Sage) This tender perennial from Michoacan, Mexico, has large, rich magenta flowers that hang from the arching branches in clusters up to 12 inches long. Growing up to 5 feet tall, this sage offers an unforgettable display when in bloom.
(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.
(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.
(Pink Beach Autumn Sage) When it blooms from spring into fall, this heat- and chill-tolerant sage is covered with large, two-tone pink flowers that attract butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds. This compact, drought-tolerant beauty also features small, shiny, bright green leaves.
(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.
(Raspberry Autumn Sage) Dark calyxes and stems contrast intensely with the bright berry-colored flowers of Salvia greggii ‘Raspberry’. It's one of our fastest growing, earliest blooming Autumn Sages and has fragrant foliage.
(Salmon Autumn Sage) Creamy salmon-colored flowers with white throats make this elegant Autumn Sage perfect for a pastel garden or as a cooling color in a mixed sage border. Bloom time is spring into fall for this petite Salvia greggii native to the American Southwest and Mexico.
(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.