Most perennial and woody Salvias thrive when planted in autumn. The season's warm soil speeds root growth unlike the cool soil of early spring. Furthermore, sages put lots of energy into foliage instead of root development in spring. Fall planting allows plants to develop strong root systems that prepare them for the demands of rapid foliar growth and flowering.
You can increase chances of strong root growth by amending soil with lots of organic matter, such as well-rotted compost. This loosens soil so that plant roots gain oxygen, spread more easily and get the moisture they need without being persistently damp. Salvias need good drainage.
Cold-tolerant sages -- such as ones that withstand temperatures in USDA Cold Hardiness Zone 6 or lower -- are particularly good choices for fall planting in areas with chilly winters. They are particularly tolerant of cooling nights as well as occasional light frosts that may occur before the first hard frost of the changing seasons.
With its decreasing temperatures, autumn is also a time of year when it is more comfortable to work in the garden. For more tips about autumn sage gardening, please read our blog article Fall Planting is Superior for Salvias.
How to prune this plant
Deciduous, woody stem Salvias
These are species that produce woody stems, but die back to the ground in the winter in all but the warmest climates. In warm winter areas these can become woody shrubs, but they generally benefit from the following pruning methods.
Pruning is both an art and a science. It takes practice, experience and learning from your mistakes to become a proficient pruner. The pruning information about this plant should be considered as a guideline for getting started. Your particular climate, soils, watering and fertility schedules, sun exposure, space requirements and weather are all factors that influence how and when you choose to prune. We’re providing a starting place for you, and over time you will learn the particularities of this plant in your garden. Don’t be afraid to get started – Salvias, in general, are quick to rebound if inappropriately pruned.
Deadheading – the removal of spent flowers, is a practice that will always benefit the plant’s health and appearance. This can be done at any time. Pruning involves removal of entire stems of spent growth. Becoming "spent" means that flowering stems stop blooming and begin going to seed.
Growing Season PruningDuring the spring and summer, you can completely or partially remove any stems that have finished blooming and are becoming unsightly. This often stimulates fresh new growth and increased flowering
Dormant Season PruningAt the end of the growing season or after first frost, spent stems can be cut to the ground. Some gardeners in cold winter climates say that leaving 3 to 6 inches of the stems intact during the winter improves survivability. They remove the remaining stems before new growth begins in the spring. In warmer areas the stems may never completely die back, but should be cut to ground to allow for new growth.
Attracting Hummingbird Tips
Hummingbirds love Salvia (sage) nectar and are attracted to it by the bright colors of tubular sage blossoms. In particular, these little whirlybirds can easily spot flowers in the red spectrum, which is prevalent among sages. Here are some hummingbird gardening tips.
- Go tubular. Hummingbirds need tubular flowers that are easy for long, thin beaks to access.
- Provide lots of color. Think of yourself as a cafeteria manager who needs to provide many tempting choices in order to attract business. Red, pink, orange and purple sages are particularly powerful hummingbird magnets.
- Keep your garden blooming. Plant a variety of Salvias based not only on color but also a broad span of bloom times. Many flower from spring into fall. Others are prolific fountains of nectar for shorter seasons. Numerous winter-blooming species are available for areas that are home to hummingbirds year round.
- Grow sages native to the Western Hemisphere. Although hummingbirds will take advantage of many kinds of tubular flowering plants, these tiny birds are native to the Western Hemisphere and prefer flowering plants native to their half of the world.
- Select Salvia companion plants. Hummingbirds appreciate a variety of favorite tubular-flowered plants.
- Plant hummingbird gardens near cover. Trees and bushes surrounding feeding areas provide protection from predators and chilly, rainy weather.
- Don't use pesticides. Insects provide protein for hummingbirds, so don't kill these food sources.
- Provide water. Hummingbirds frolic in misters and shallow birdbaths.
- Supplement plantings with feeder tubes. Change the sugar water every few days and don't add food coloring. Keep the feeders clean, but don't scrub them with soaps or detergents. Here is more feeder care information.
- Read more. Our Everything Salvias Blog offers a number of articles about hummingbirds.
Dealing with Deer?
If you live in suburbs or rural areas where deer plunder gardens, Salvias (sages) can be part of your plan for discouraging these hungry visitors. Here are some tips.
- Mask smells that deer like with aromatic sages. Deer and other members of the Cervidae family, such as elk, mostly leave Salvias alone. One theory is that they don't like the fragrance or taste of sage chemicals. Strategically planting sages near vegetable gardens or fruit trees -- elixir to deer -- may prevent consumption.
- Grow hedges including Salvias. Prickly hedges, including hairy-leafed Salvias and exceptionally thorny roses, can discourage deer from entering your yard. They don't like the mouth-feel of those textures. Tall hedges also hide strawberry beds and other yummy plantings from view.
- Don't overplant one species. Grow a variety of Salvias in case local deer take an unexpected liking to one species of sage.
- Fence deer out. Install electric fences or 8-foot wood or metal fences around particularly vulnerable areas. Make sure electric fencing is turned on during the peak feeding seasons of early spring and late fall.
- Use motion-detection tools. Install outdoor lighting that is activated by movement.
- Let the dogs out. Deer are especially wary of large dogs.
- Surround and cover. Wrap tough plastic around the trunks of trees that have tasty bark and cover foliage with bird netting when trees and bushes are fruiting.
- Change yard ornaments periodically. Objects such as scarecrows, statuary and cordons of monofilament string with strips of shiny foil attached cause deer to shy away.
- Make safe choices. Research repellants you plan to use to make sure they aren't poisonous.
- Be flexible and ready to share a bit. There is no such thing as a completely deer-resistant garden.
You can rely on a quality experience with Flowers by the Sea Nursery, because we:
- Ship only large, healthy plants
- Carefully package your purchase
- Contract with UPS for rapid, safe delivery direct to your door and
- Don't raise plant prices to artificially subsidize low shipping fees.
Looking for a larger quantity?
We are continually propagating most Salvia varieties, to be able to ship to you plants "in their prime", ideal for planting out. Generally we maintain a relatively small number of any given plant in inventory. We can often grow larger quantities to meet specific needs. If you are looking for more than what we have in our current inventory, please contact us.
This is the non-scientific name used for a plant. A plant may have several common names, depending on the gardener's location. To further confuse the matter, a common name may be shared by several completely different plants. At Flowers by the Sea, we rely on the scientific name to identify our plants and avoid confusion.
|Honey Melon Sage|
The U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones indicate the temperature zones where a plant is likely to thrive. It is determined by the average annual winter minimum temperature. Actual winter temperatures may be higher or lower than the average.
|9 - 11|
The anticipated mature size of the plant: Height, Width & Flower Height.
This is the average amount of sunlight that a plant needs to thrive. Generally, full sun exposure is 6 or more hours of direct sun daily while partial shade is less than 4 hours of sun or dappled shade all day. Plants may tolerate more sunlight in cooler climates and need afternoon shade in extremely hot climates.
|Full sun to partial shade|
This is the kind of soil that a plant needs to thrive. Most plants require a well-drained soil that allows the water to soak into the soil without becoming soggy. Sandy and clay soils can be improved by digging in compost to improve drainage.
|Well drained & rich|
Plants have specific water requirements. Water loving means the plant needs regular watering to keep the soil moist. Average generally indicates applying 1 inch of water per week, or watering when the soil is dry to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. One inch of water is equal to 5 gallons per square yard of soil surface.
This is the size of the pot your plant will arrive in.
|3 1/2 inch deep pot|
"Yes" indicates that this plant can be successfully grown as a container plant.
(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.
Honey Melon has bright red flowers that hummingbirds love. It spreads into a dense clump with underground runners. By cutting back older stems to the ground, new fresh growth keeps it in flower for months. On the Northern California coast, it starts blooming no later than May and sometimes continues until February.
Grow this cultivar in partial shade in warmer zones or in full sun in the coolest part of its range. Along with Tangerine Pineapple Sage, Honey Melon is easier to grow in most of the country than the larger growing varieties of the species.
Native to Mexico, Pineapple Sage is found at high elevations in Pine and Oak forests. The species is used as a medicinal herb -- such as in herb tea -- to relieve anxiety and treat hypertension. Just smelling the leaves makes us happier.
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 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.
When growing a fragrance garden, this is a good selection.
Most Salvias have pleasant scents, but some are intoxicatingly fragrant. Some are short enough for border plantings that release a heady perfume as you brush against them when strolling along a path. Other taller types make good landscape highlights, particularly by doors where their scent can be enjoyed on entry and exit.
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.
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.
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
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
Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2012
While it's true that not all Salvias smell, well, pleasant, many varieties are grown specifically for the pungent or even sweet aromas that they release into the air. These ten Salvias are our top picks for the best-smelling varieties in the garden.
Read the Article
Posted: Friday, October 26, 2012
Many kinds of Sage were considered sacred in ancient times due to their soothing, medicinal qualities. Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans), which is native to Mexico and Guatemala, is still a highly regarded folk remedy for relieving anxiety, depression and high blood pressure. It is also one of America's most popular culinary sages and is a highlight of the USDA's National Herb Garden.
Read the Article
Posted: Monday, May 6, 2013
Some kinds of Salvia flowers make good additions to foods ranging from breads to salads. Growing the Salvias yourself is a good way to avoid toxins.
Read the Article
Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2013
Pruning makes some people nervous. Am I doing too much or too little? Will I kill the plant? Is this the right time? Salvia specialist and longtime horticulturist Kermit Carter, co-owner of Flowers by the Sea Farm and Online Mail-Order Nursery, describes the pruning of Tangerine Scented Sage and answers all these questions. This video is part of the FBTS Everything Salvias Blog series Views from the Garden.
Read the Article
Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Flowers that butterflies and hummingbirds favor are rich sources of nectar. But not all nectar-rich butterfly favorites are easy to access with long hummingbird beaks. Conversely, many flowers designed by nature to attract hummingbirds don't have the structure necessary for feeding butterflies or providing a perch. Here are ten Salvias and companion plants for backyard wildlife habitat that both butterflies and hummingbirds will enjoy.
Read the Article
Posted: Sunday, December 30, 2012
Salvias that grow well in Florida may behave differently from one region of the state to another. This may mystify gardeners who have just moved to Florida or have moved to a different area in the state. Based primarily on seasonal variations in temperature, the four main regions are North, Central, South and Tropical Florida.
Read the Article
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Growing a one-pot herb garden indoors is a fragrant reminder of summer. While some herbs need plenty of water, others - such as Culinary Sage (Salvia officinalis spp.) - need little. Aside from controlling soil moisture, keys to success include plant selection, pot size and drainage, appropriate potting mix, sufficient sunlight and indoor pruning to control growth.
Read the Article
Posted: Thursday, December 25, 2014
Synopsis: Nothing says holidays like the fragrance of sage coming from the kitchen. It has even inspired writers, such as newspaper columnist and mystery novelist Denise Hamilton. Sage is the stuff of musky perfumes, fragrant Christmas candles and great homecooked meals cooking in the kitchen. It wraps us in the warmth as well as the chill of the season.
Read the Article
Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013
Quick Digs is a serial containing short posts focused on a central issue about Salvia gardening. The topic for the first series is Salvia groundcovers for weed control, and this is the first article.
Great groundcovers help conserve soil moisture and leave little room for weeds to grow. This is true of many colorful, fragrant Salvias that spread freely, including Meadow Sages. However, it may be that the essential oils creating the pleasant aromas of many Salvias are also helpful in suppressing weeds. Many researchers refer to this apparent trait as the “Salvia phenomenon.”
Read the Article
Posted: Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Florida is one of the wettest states in the nation, yet it is a fine place to grow Salvias if you select shade-tolerant, moisture-loving species and ones native to Florida. Gardeners who are accustomed to growing Salvias in a dry climate face a variety of surprises in Florida gardens. These include recurrent periods of drought, many cloudy days and soil that is so poor it has to be amended for Salvias.
Read the Article
Posted: Monday, March 28, 2016
Renowned hummingbird bander Nancy Newfield of southern Louisiana shares her journey from 1970s stay-at-home mom to citizen scientist and one of the nation's leading hummingbird researchers. This is the first article in a three-part series about Newfield's work and gardens, which abound with Salvias to feed hungry hummingbirds that overwinter in her suburban yard near New Orleans. It includes plant lists and the Louisiana Winter Hummingbird Project tally of banded hummingbirds from 1979 to 2015.
Read the Article
Posted: Friday, April 25, 2014
Regional differences in seasonal temperature and humidity affect the choice of Salvias to plant in hummingbird gardens. The varying seasons in which particular sages bloom and the part of the world where they originated also determine whether they attract hummingbirds. Flowers by the Sea offers suggestions based on regions and seasons.
Read the Article
(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.
(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.