Texas is sage country. Twenty-two kinds of Salvia are native to the state, a number that exceeds the count for California and far surpasses New Mexico's quantity of native Salvias. It is a land of extreme weather from severe summer heat and drought to thick summer humidity and torrential rainstorms that go on for days.
Despite these climate swings, Texas and its Salvias have inspired songwriters, such as Nat Vincent and Fred Howard, who in 1926 composed "When the Bloom Is On the Sage," which passionately concludes:
How it beckons, and I reckonâ¨
I would work for any wageâ¨
To be free again, just to be againâ¨
Where the bloom is on the sage.
The Lone Star State encompasses a broad range of Salvias, because it encompasses a broad range of growing conditions. Its USDA cold hardiness ratings alone range from chilly Zone 6 temperatures in the far north to a mild Zone 9b winter climate at the state's southern tip.
Salvia is a particularly rich source of nectar for hummingbirds. Texas attracts so many hummingbirds that it holds an annual Hummingbird Roundup in which participants observe and record migration patterns, including hummers that come to visit but end up staying all year long. The state is also home to 463 species of butterflies, many of which also love Salvia nectar in the wild and in home gardens.
Sages native to Texas come in many colors, including reds, blues, purples, oranges, whites and yellows. There are species that prefer full sun and others that thrive in shade. They range from creeping groundcovers to shrubs that are 6 feet tall and wide.
Some Texas natives, such as the large group of Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) and Mealy Cup Sage (Salvia farinacea) are unimaginably floriferous yet prefer little water. Others, including Tropical Sage (Salvia coccinea), are made for changeable East Texas weather, because they are drought resistant yet water loving.
At Flowers by the Sea, we grow numerous varieties of many Salvia species native to Texas. Here are our current offerings.
(Trinity Mountain Sage) Heat and drought tolerant, this Salvia microphylla is native to Northeastern Mexico where summers are dry and temperatures can rise to more than 100 degrees F. It can survive winter temperatures down to 0 degrees.
(Azure Hybrid Sage) Despite its name, the flowers of this tiny hybrid aren't really blue. They are a light purple. Due to its size, long bloom time, heat tolerance and drought resistance, Salvia x 'Mesa Azure' is a fine groundcover for areas where summers are hot and dry.
(Big Orange Mountain Sage) When temperatures are cooler in spring and fall, the persimmon-orange flowers of this large Mountain Sage darken. Gray-green foliage, bright green calyxes and reddish-green stems add to the plant's fascinating look, which mixes well with yellows and blues.
(People's Park Mountain Sage) Sometimes nature can be rebellious. This is one the Mountain Sages known as the Turbulent Sixties Series developed from an outlaw cultivar of the Southwestern native Salvia microphylla. Monterey Bay Nursery (MBN) named their accidental hybrid ‘Berzerkeley.’
(Red Velvet Mountain Sage) This is one of the most intense red-flowering variety of Mountain Sage we grow. Medium-sized flowers are profuse on this large, vigorous plant -- particularly in spring and fall. Dark stems and calyxes intensify the plant's drama along with glossy green foliage.
(Royal Bumble Mountain Sage) Almost black, the stems and calyxes of this UK hybrid form a pleasing contrast with its medium-size scarlet flowers and glossy green leaves. Bloom time is spring to fall. This Mountain Sage suckers freely and forms a dense clump.
(St. Charles Day Mountain Sage) Especially in spring and fall, masses of red-violet flowers bloom amid the silvery green foliage of Salvia microphylla 'San Carlos Festival'. Put this one into the "must have" column.
(Telegraph Avenue Dwarf Mountain Sage) Here’s another member of the Turbulent Sixties Series of Southwestern Mountain Sages (Salvia microphylla), which developed from one of nature’s rebels – an accidental hybrid that Monterey Bay Nursery (MBN) named ‘Berzerkeley’ after finding it taking a stand in the nursery’s gravel paving.
(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 Pitcher Sage) As its scientific name indicates, this sage has very large flowers. They are almost two-tone, changing from deep violet to a light blue or white at their base where they are cupped by dusky purple calyxes.
(Orange Mountain Sage) This is the reddest of the Salvia regla species and the most floriferous. Side by side with the other varieties, this one is a bit taller and has darker flowers.
(Jame Orange Mountain Sage) North Carolina plantsman Richard Dufresne collected this fine variety of Salvia regla near the village of Jame, in central Mexico where the western and eastern Sierra Madre mountains meet.
(Orange Mountain Sage) Coahuila, Mexico, is home to many fine Salvias, including the smallest variety of Salvia regla that we grow. This one averages about 3 feet tall and wide.
(Autumn Sapphire West Texas Grass Sage) Butterflies and honeybees particularly favor this West Texas mountain native. In contrast to the true blue flowers of regular Salvia reptans, this cultivar has deep blue blossoms and is remarkably compact.
(Summer Skies West Texas Grass Sage) Butterflies and honeybees particularly favor this West Texas mountain native. In contrast to the true blue flowers of regular Salvia reptans, this cultivar has purple blossoms with cloud-like, lavender-to-white throats.
(Cedar Sage) Scarlet flowers abound on this small, mounding, woodland sage that is native to Texas, Arizona and Northern Mexico. Grow it as a small scale groundcover or mix it with other shade-loving sages in a perennial border or along a path.
(Texas Blue Sage) This is a cutie and a tough customer once established. It even grows well in caliche soils. Although Salvia texana typically blooms only during spring in Texas, it has a longer season stretching into fall up north.
(Salvia VIBE®'Ignition Purple') Purple once was a color reserved for royalty. Salvia VIBE® 'Ignition Purple' has deep royal purple flowers that are rare in a Jame Sage hybrid. They bloom spring to fall for your enjoyment.