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.
(Elk Twilight's Rosy Glow Jame Sage) Rosy red hairs accentuate the upper lip of each dusky, salmon-pink blossom of this cheery Jame Sage. The flowers are tiny but abundant and are supported by bright green calyxes.
(Elk Xanadu Jame Sage) Like the magical, fictional land of Xanadu, there’s something heavenly about this sage. The flowers of Salvia x ‘Elk Xanadu’ look ethereal due to the bluish cast of their magenta-pink blossoms supported by deep magenta and green calyxes. It's a powerful attraction for pollinators, including hummingbirds.
(Majestic Pink Sage) Very large richly colored hot pink blossoms and broad, glossy, intricately textured leaves are part of what makes Salvia x 'Majestic Pink' a standout. This is a complex hybrid involving several Salvia species from the ongoing breeding program at FBTS.
(Nuevo Leon Hybrid Sage) Imagine tiny, smooth, green leaves and deeper lavender-blue flowers than those of Salvia lycioides x greggii 'San Isidro'. With its midnight purple flowers, Nuevo Leon is a dramatic Salvia greggii hybrid.
(Dyson's Orangy Pink Hybrid Jame Sage) Many Salvia x jamensis hybrids remind gardeners of sunrise, such as Dyson's Orangy Pink. Light green calyxes faintly striped with red cup its luminous pale salmon pink blossoms with creamy throats.
(Shell Dancer Sage) So many sages combine resilience and loveliness. This includes Salvia 'Shell Dancer', which withstands heat and drought yet has delicate looking blossoms and lush green foliage.
(Tangerine Ballet Hybrid Jame Sage) Soft pinkish-orange flowers with contrasting yellow eyes make this Jame Sage look as tasty as sorbet. Hardy to at least 10 degrees F, Tangerine Ballet is also heat tolerant, drought resistant and long blooming-- all marks of Salvias in the closely related Autumn and Mountain Sage group.
(Yellow Pink Hybrid Jame Sage) Dusty pink with pale yellow throats, the bicolor pastels of this Salvia x jamensis are especially charming up close. 'Yellow Pink' is a compact sage with tiny, smooth foliage.