- Salvia plants are commonly known as Sage.
- Deer resistant and easy to care for.
- Essential garden perennials for feeding honey bees.
- Are a favorite of hummingbirds.
Salvias also known as sages, are in the mint family, all of which have a characteristic square stem. And many are strongly scented, including common culinary sage (Salvia officinalis) and pineapple sage (S. elegans). Flowers of many varieties are borne on flower spikes held above the foliage. Most salvias, whether red or blue, are very attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies.
The colors of Salvia take on the rainbow, from purple to red, with blues, whites, and even yellow:
Mealy-cup or Blue Sage – A South and Central Texas native with spikes of blue flowers that bloom all summer, growing about 3 feet tall. Like many salvias, it looks best if cut back once or twice during the summer. These blooms also come in white.
Autumn Sage – Another native saliva to southwestern Texas and Mexico, Autumn sage is really misnamed because it blooms spring through fall. While most perennial salvias are herbaceous perennials, freezing to the ground each winter and returning from the roots, Autumn sage is partly evergreen and semi-woody. Growing about 3 feet tall, one or two shearings will keep it compact and flowering. Autumn sage needs full sun and excellent drainage to do best, and is very drought tolerant. Flowers colors include the most common red, white, pink, rose, purple and orange.
Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’
Indigo Spires – A vigorous hybrid prized for its 12- to 15-inch-long, twisting spikes of dark violet flowers. It is a non-stop bloomer from early summer through fall. Blooming can be further encouraged by pinching stem tips early in the growing season and deadheading the spikes once they fade. ‘Indigo Spires’ quickly grows to 4 feet high, and can be grown as an annual where not hardy.
Mexican Bush Sage – Mexican Bush Sage blooms only in the fall, with an occasional scattered bloom in late spring. The plant is attractive even when not covered in long spikes of rosy purple spikes with tiny white flowers late summer through first frost. An all purple variety is also available. The long shoots with grey-green leaves arch slightly, giving a graceful appearance. Mexican Bush Sage is hardy most winters, if given a mulch for protection and stems are not cut back until spring. ‘Santa Barbara’ is a more compact variety.
Texas Sage – Texas Sage grows about 2 to 3 feet tall and is treated as an annual, though it does reseed freely. The red form is most common, with pink and white selections available. A few years ago, ‘Lady in Red’ was chosen as an All-America Selections Winner because it is lower growing with larger, brighter red flowers. Many other varieties are available.
Brazilian Sage or Anise Sage – Bearing beautiful, dark, electric blue, long, tubular flowers mid-summer through fall, this beautiful perennial deserves a spot among your flowers. There are several named varieties for this tough plant, including ‘Black and Blue’ that sports black calyces and dark blue flowers. This sage also tolerates some afternoon shade, making it a versatile plant for the flower garden. Be aware that it does spread through underground runners, so give it room to roam, or be ready to pull it in unwanted areas.
Pineapple Sage – This tender perennial performs a dual function giving beauty with its long, bright red tubular flowers, and its fragrant leaves which can be used in salads, drinks and potpourri. The ‘Golden Delicious’ variety has chartreuse foliage which makes the bright red flowers really stand out.
Scarlet Sage – A popular bedding plant useful for introducing bright color to the garden. Many varieties are available from scarlet red to pink, purple, white and bi-colors. Give some afternoon shade for best results.
Mountain Sage – Is densely covered with orange-red blooms during the fall. I like to let this Salvia grow into a tall woody bush, just as it does in the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park.