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.
(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.
(Rosie O'Grady Mountain Sage) Honeybees and hummingbirds love the large, bright pink flowers of Salvia microphylla 'Rosie O'Grady', a drought-resistant sage. Dense and fragrant, it's large, glossy green leaves are veined and have finely serrated edges. This is a lush choice for dry gardens.
(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.
(Wild Watermelon Mountain Sage) Large, watermelon-pink flowers and the fruity fragrance of this long-blooming sage's mid-green, veined leaves make this Mountain Sage a treat to grow.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(VIBE® Ignition White Sage) Never before have we seen such a pure white among the species to which Jame Sages are related. We love this purity as well as the bright green calyxes supporting the large flowers of Elk White Ice and giving it an overall crisp look.
(Elk Bella Rosa Jame Sage) The large, creamy pink and burgundy flowers of this sage are stately in contrast with its deep green, veined, ovate foliage that is pleasantly fragrant. Elk Bella Rosa is as elegant as its name implies. It's also long blooming.
(Elk Blue Moon II Jame Sage) The phrase "blue moon" signifies a rare event. Elk Blue Moon Jame Sage is an unusual combination for a Salvia x jamensis hybrid -- dusky violet flowers with pale-blue throats, dark blue calyxes and mid-green foliage.
Note: This is a new (2014) cultivar that we chose to replace the original 'Elk Blue Moon'. It is a superior grower, and otherwise very similar.
(Elk Butter Light Jame Sage) "Clear" is how we describe the translucent quality of Elk Butter Light's creamy yellow blossoms, which are supported by bright green calyxes. Unlike the green-tinged flowers of Elk Lemon Light Jame Sage, these blossoms are paler and one pure color.
(Elk Buttercup Jame Sage) Red flower buds unfurl into the surprisingly buttery yellow blossoms of Elk Buttercup. Subtly bicolored, the flowers have touches of light pink including fine hairs on the upper lip.
(Elk Chantily Lace Jame Sage) What color are the flowers of this FBTS introduction? Lavender? Periwinkle? Taffy? Yes to all for this hard to describe but easy to love plant.
(Elk Cotton Candy Jame Sage) Rosy hairs on the upper lip and pale white throats highlight the translucent, blush pink blossoms of Elk Cotton Candy Jame Sage. Dark, deeply contrasting calyxes support the medium-size flowers.
(Elk Crème Anglaise Jame Sage) Framed by minty green foliage, the blossoms of Salvia x ‘Elk Crème Anglaise’ transition from dreamy pale pink throats to white skirts. They look delectable.
(Elk Crimson King Jame Sage) Sometimes words fail us when trying to describe a unique new color. Definitely red, but with a clear blue overlay and a blue eye. Featuring masses of flowers that delight pollinators, this FBTS introduction is new for 2017.
(Elk Lemon Light Jame Sage) We are proud to offer this luminescent, pure yellow Salvia x jamensis -- a color breakthrough from our own breeding program. The bright, light blossoms cool the landscape similar to white flowers, but with colorful impact. The glossy green leaves are quite small - a very attractive and distinctive characteristic.
(Elk Lemon Sorbet Jame Sage) Unlike any other we have ever seen, this pale yellow flower seems at times to have a green tint. The foliege is typical of the Salvia microphylla parent - mid sized, round and textured. It is very different in flower and foliege from our popular variety 'Elk Lemon Lite'.
(Elk Peach Flambe Sage) Pale pink-to-peach edges surround the petals of Salvia x 'Elk Peach Flambe' like hints of petticoats. The deep maroon calyxes holding the flowers add drama to this small sage.
(Elk Pink Cloud Sage) Abounding with clusters of large, soft pink flowers on spreading branches, Salvia x 'Elk Pink Cloud' has a fluffy, cumulonimbus look when spilling over the edges of a hanging basket
(Elk Plum Parfait Jame Sage) It's a toss-up as to which are more dramatic -- the deep purple calyxes so dark they almost look black or the plum-colored flowers with pronounced white beelines. Elk Plum Parfait is a rare treat.