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 You are here    Flowers by the Sea / Salvias A to Z / Salvia penstemonoides
Time to think about Fall Planting
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Salvia penstemonoides

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Price: $14.50

(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.

Qty:
Common name
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.
Big Red Sage
USDA Zones
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.
6 - 9
Size (h/w/fh)
The anticipated mature size of the plant: Height, Width & Flower Height.
24"/36"/48"
Exposure
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
Soil type
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
Water needs
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.
Average
Pot size
This is the size of the pot your plant will arrive in. All will be well rooted & branched and ready to grow when planted. Our STANDARD pot is 3 1/2 inches across and 4 inches deep and have a volume of 1.0 pints or 473 ml.
Standard
Hummingbird plant?
Hummingbirds have been observed regularly feeding from this plant's flowers.
Yes
Mature height
The mature height of this plant in average conditions.
3 to 4 feet
Mature spread
The mature width of this plant in average conditions.
2 to 3 feet
High Resolution Images
  • Salvia penstemonoides
Degree of Difficulty
Challenging
Degree of Difficulty
This plant is can be challenging to grow in conditions outside those in which it is found in the wild.
Details
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(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.

Big Red Sage is native to the vast Edwards Plateau of central Texas, The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center notes that Big Red Sage is "endemic to seeps on limestone ledges and banks along streams" of the vast Edwards Plateau in central Texas, which is west of Austin and northwest of San Antonio.  It's adaptable to well-drained clay, loam, and limestone soils, needs average watering, and grows well in full sun to partial shade.

Introduced to horticulture in 1845, the sage declined to a point of near extinction in the 20th century. This problem was due in part to development of the Edwards Plateau. But in the early 1980s, Salvia experts  began networking to discover small stands of Big Red in the wild. They collected seed and introduced the sage to garden centers.

Erosion, herbicides, and a lowering water table remain threats to this sage. But you can help it survive in your garden.

Special thanks to the Denver Botanical Garden for the use of these photos.