Sage with red flowers

Scarlet sage is a perennial usually grown as an annual in cooler climates.

Salvia coccinea is one of about 900 species in the genus Salvia. It is just one of dozens of sages grown as garden ornamentals. As both its scientific name of coccinea (meaning “scarlet dyed”) and common names of scarlet sage and blood sage suggest, this herbaceous perennial in the mint family (Lamiaceae) has bright red flowers. (Beware of common names – another species, S. splendens, is also sometimes called scarlet sage, but these are very different plants; S. coccinea is also occasionally referred to as Texas sage or tropical sage, both those names are used for other species, too.)

Scarlet sage has an upright to vase-shaped habit.

Probably native to Mexico, it is widespread throughout the Southeastern US, through Central America, and in northwestern South America (Columbia, Peru and Brazil). It is the only native US sage with red flowers. S. coccinea is hardy in zones 9 and 10, and will reseed readily in zones 6 to 8, but is easily grown as an annual in cooler climates.

Scarlet sage is an vase-shaped to upright subshrub in its native range, but because it is fast growing it also makes a good bedding plant in colder areas where it is not hardy. Plants grow 2-4 feet tall and up to 2 ½ feet wide, branching readily.

The medium green leaves are slightly hairy and have a scalloped edge.

The medium green, hairy leaves are roughly triangular in shape, with scalloped edges. The opposite leaves vary considerably in size, but all have long petioles coming off the square stems.

Scarlet sage blooms continuously whenever the weather is warm (including indoors in a greenhouse during the winter). Flowers are produced in loose whorls in an upright, terminal racemose inflorescence up to 10 inches long.

Salvia coccinea flower spike developing (L), flowers starting to develop (C), and flowers blooming (R).

Like other plants in the mint family, scarlet sage flowers have a colorful corolla emerging from the calyx.

Each inch-long tubular flower has two parts: a colorful tube (corolla) protruding from the calyx. The showy flowers produce a lot of nectar so are highly attractive to

Salvia coccinea is highly attractive to hummingbirds.

hummingbirds, giving rise to yet another common name of hummingbird sage. They are also visited by butterflies and bees. In addition, salvias make great cut flowers, with S. coccinea bringing an airy appearance to arrangements. The flowers are followed by tiny brown seeds hidden in the calyces. Goldfinches and other birds may visit the plants to pick out the seeds.

The small, dark-colored seeds (R) remain within the dried calyx (L and C) until they are removed by birds or shaken loose.

Flower color and size is variable. The species is typically bright, scarlet red, but cultivars have been developed with white, pink, salmon, orange and bi-colored flowers. Some of the most common cultivars include:

  • ‘Lady in Red’ – a shorter and more free-flowering selection than the species that reseeds very reliably. The first improved cultivar, selected by a Dutch breeder, and a 1992 AAS award winner.
  • ‘Coral Nymph’ (also called “Cherry Blossom’) – has bicolor flowers of white and deep pinkish coral or salmon on compact plants. Often not as robust as the species or other cultivars.
  • ‘Snow Nymph’ (or ‘Alba’) – has white blossoms on 24 inch tall plants.
  • ‘Summer Jewel Pink’ and ’Summer Jewel Red’ – are 2012 and 2011 AAS winners, respectively, with compact growth and early-blooming light pink or red flowers.

Common cultivars of Salvia coccinea include ‘Lady in Red’ (L), ‘Coral Nymph’ (LC), ‘Snow Nymp’h (RC) and ‘Summer Jewel Red’ (R).

Salvia coccinea likes full sun.

This species of sage, like many others, does best in full sun but will tolerate some shade, and needs well-drained soil. It likes hot weather and tolerates drought, but will not flower well if not watered at all. Wait until all danger of frost has passed and the soil is warmed before placing plants outdoors. Like many sages, scarlet sage will not grow much when the weather is cool, but will really take off when it gets hot, especially if there is also plenty of rain. Space plants 12-18 inches apart to allow for vigorous growth, or more closely for an impressive planting more quickly. Deadheading will encourage repeat blooming. Plants that get too tall or unsightly can be cut back for fresh growth and new blooms later in the season.

Scarlet sage is susceptible to powdery mildew.

Scarlet sage does not have many specific pests when grown as a bedding plant (it is not favored by deer), but may be plagued by mealybugs, aphids, whiteflies or spider mites indoors. This plant is very likely to develop powdery mildew, which can be reduced by providing sufficient air circulation and planting further apart.

Use scarlet sage in containers, annual borders and in mixed beds. These salvias combine easily with other plants for accents of wispy color. The cultivars with light-colored blossoms are wonderful planted in front of darker plants or a dark background so the flowers stand out. It is best to plant in masses if grown to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Seedlings of Salvia coccinea viewed from above (L) and the side (R).

Scarlet sage is propagated by seed or division. Seeds will germinate and plants will bloom any time of the year, so they are easily grown in a greenhouse in cold climates. Start transplants from seed indoors 6-8 weeks before the average last frost. Sow seeds shallowly, as they require light to germinate. It takes 2-3 weeks for the seeds to germinate. Older plants can be divided in spring, or cuttings taken during the growing season. This is generally only practical for maintaining specific cultivars or selections, as plants are so easy to grow from seed (and volunteer seedlings are likely to occur in containers if moved to a protected location for the winter; these are easily pulled or transplanted when small).

– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison

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Salvia, Hummingbird Sage, Scarlet Sage, Texas Sage ‘Lady in Red’



Tropicals and Tender Perennials


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



Bloom Color:


Scarlet (dark red)

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Blooms repeatedly



Other details:

Unknown – Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

Foliage Color:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Chandler, Arizona

Gilbert, Arizona(2 reports)

Tempe, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Camarillo, California

Clayton, California

Grass Valley, California

Palm Springs, California

Sacramento, California

Santa Ana, California

Milford, Delaware

Wilmington, Delaware

Brooker, Florida

Daytona Beach, Florida

Pensacola, Florida

Williston, Florida

Braselton, Georgia

Lawrenceville, Georgia

Indianapolis, Indiana

Des Moines, Iowa

Derby, Kansas

Barbourville, Kentucky

Hebron, Kentucky

New Orleans, Louisiana

Milo, Maine

Columbia, Maryland

Gaithersburg, Maryland

Needham, Massachusetts

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Lincoln, Nebraska

Mount Laurel, New Jersey

Beaufort, North Carolina

Bucyrus, Ohio

Comanche, Oklahoma

Gold Hill, Oregon

Conway, South Carolina

Moncks Corner, South Carolina

Rockwood, Tennessee

Broaddus, Texas

Brownsville, Texas

Bulverde, Texas

Deer Park, Texas

Denton, Texas

Flint, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas(3 reports)

Houston, Texas(2 reports)

Mont Belvieu, Texas

New Braunfels, Texas

Pasadena, Texas

Portland, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Spring, Texas

Trinity, Texas

Ogden, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

Basye, Virginia

Mc Lean, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

Shoreline, Washington

Madison, Wisconsin

Pewaukee, Wisconsin

show all

Few plant genera offer the amazing diversity and ornamental potential found in the genus Salvia. These members of the Lamiaceae (formerly Labiatae) family are first cousins to Nepeta (Catmint), Mentha (true mint), and Monarda (bee balm), to mention but a few. Salvias plants range from woody subshrubs to annuals, and are native to virtually every continent. Salvias are known for their fragrant foliage and subsequent deer-resistance. Most Salvias are full sun plants although a small handful are shade tolerant. I am omitting the popular herb, Salvia officinalis, since it is a short-lived plant that does not like our NC climate.

Salvia ‘Dancing Dolls’ PP 19,820

The focus of this article is Salvias which make good perennial garden specimens between Hardiness Zones 3 and 8. For the sake of making sense of the genus, I’ll divide the Salvia plants into three groups; those with woody stems, those which are both herbaceous (non-woody stems) and deciduous (die to the ground) in the winter, and finally those which are herbaceous and form basal rosettes.

Woody Stem Salvia

The woody Salvia group include several worthy garden subjects, Salvia greggii, Salvia microphylla, Salvia chamaedryoides, and Salvia regla. Salvias in this group could also be classified as shrubs or subshrubs. Most of these Salvias are evergreen to a certain temperature, below which they can behave as herbaceous perennials.

Salvia chamaedryoides

Salvia chamaedryoides is a Mexican native which goes by the common name of Blue Oak sage. Salvia chamaedryoides forms a 1′ tall x 2′ wide clump of woody stems adorned with small ever-grey leaves. From midsummer through fall, the plants are adorned with dark pure blue salvia flowers. Good drainage and bright sun are preferred … Salvia chamaedryoides has been quite easy in our experience. (Hardiness Zone 7-10)

Salvia greggii (often spelled incorrectly as Salvia greggi) is the most commonly grown of the woody salvias. This amazing plant, native to both Mexico and the US, thrives under a wide range of conditions, growing equally as well in Florida as England … as long as the drainage is good. The flower color of the species ranges from white to red to purple. In warm climates, Salvia greggii flowers best in spring, slows in summer, then puts on another superb show in fall. There are many named selections of Salvia greggii that vary in size, hardiness, and flower color. While many selections of Salvia greggii are only hardy in Zone 7, others can tolerate Zone 5b (-15 degrees F) temperatures. Salvia greggii prefers sunny, well drained sites and are intolerant of poorly drained soils. While Salvia greggii is tolerant of severe pruning, this is best done only in spring or summer. Salvia greggii has two types of foliage … smaller evergreen leaves and slightly larger summer leaves … don’t be alarmed when the summer leaves drop in fall as the plant prepares for colder temperatures.

Salvia greggii ‘Big Pink’

Salvia greggii ‘Big Pink’ (Big Pink Sage) Salvia greggii ‘Big Pink’ is a very nice, large flowered pink form of S. greggii collected by Texan Pat McNeal near Saltillo, Mexico. The rigidly upright form and very shiny foliage make this a great plant, even for the small garden. From May through July, and again from September through November, the 3′ wide clump is topped with a stunning array of large, violet-pink flowers (RHS 57C). The flowers are further accented by the unique, dark maroon calyces that surround them. (Hardiness Zone 7-10)

Salvia greggii ‘Dark Dancer’ (Dark Dancer Sage) Salvia greggii ‘Dark Dancer’ is a Rich Dufresne introduction of a plant that was discovered by Nevin Smith of Suncrest Nursery in California. Salvia greggii ‘Dark Dancer’makes a 4′ tall x 4’ wide clump, topped with raspberry flowers. (Hardiness Zone 7-10)

Salvia greggii ‘Diane’ (Diane Texas Sage) Salvia greggii ‘Diane’ is an introduction from Barton Springs Nursery in Texas from cuttings shared by a customer named Diane. Salvia greggii ‘Diane’ makes an 18″ tall x 4′ wide clump, topped with small purple flowers. (Hardiness Zone 7-9)

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Furman’s Red Sage) This easy to grow and very hardy selection of S. greggii has a very upright growth habit, making it a splendid choice for a narrow spot in the border. When mature, expect a 3′ tall x 2′ wide clump. From late spring, throughout the summer and early fall, the clumps are topped with bright red flowers. (Hardiness Zone 6-10)

Salvia greggii ‘Lipstick’

Salvia greggii ‘Pink Preference’ (Pink Preference Texas Sage) Salvia greggii ‘Pink Preference’ named by the late Logan Calhoun, makes a 2′ tall x 3′ wide clump, topped with dark red-pink flowers, highlighted by a nearly black floral calyx (like Black and Blue Salvia). It is darker flowered and more compact that Salvia greggii ‘Big Pink’ (Hardiness Zone 6-10)

Salvia greggii ‘Teresa’ (Teresa’s Texas Sage)Salvia greggii ‘Teresa’ was selected by Texan David Steinbrunner and named after his wife, Teresa. The branch sport from a red Salvia greggii has white flowers highlighted by a light purple base just above the calyx as well as purple streaks on the lower lip. For us, it makes a 2′ tall x 2′ wide clump. (Hardiness is Zone 7-9)

Salvia greggii ‘Texas Wedding’

Salvia greggii ‘Texas Wedding’ (White Texas Sage) Salvia greggii ‘Texas Wedding’, often sold as Salvia greggii ‘Alba’ makes a 2′ tall x 2′ wide clump, topped with pure white flowers. The plant traces back to the late Carol Abbott of Kerrville, Texas (Hardiness Zone 5b-10)

Salvia greggii ‘Variegata’ (Desert Blaze Texas Sage) Salvia greggii ‘Variegata’ is a John Augustine introduction, atented under the invalid name of Salvia greggii ‘Variegata’ and illegally trademarked as Desert Blaze, a name which has no valid standing. The plant is quite nice with white edged leaves and bright red flowers on a 2′ tall x 3′ wide clump. (Hardiness Zone 8-10)

Salvia microphylla is another Mexican native, closely related to Salvia greggii. As a general rule, Salvia microphylla makes a larger clump, also with larger foliage than Salvia greggii. Additionally, Salvia microphylla is much more tolerant of hot, humid weather than Salvia greggii.

Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’

Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’ (Hot Lips Sage) This selection of the Mexican Salvia microphylla was introduced by Richard Turner of California after the plant was shared with him by his maid, who brought it from her home in Mexico. The fast growing, 30″ tall x 6′ wide clump is adorned with stunning bicolor flowers with red tips and white lips. In spring, the first flowers are all red, then bicolor. When the nights warm in summer, the new flowers are mostly white with an occasional solid red one. As fall approaches, the flowers again will be bicolor red and white. (Hardiness Zone 7 9)

Salvia microphylla ‘La Trinidad Pink’ (La Trinidad Pink Sage) Salvia ‘La Trinidad Pink’ is a Yucca Do introduction from Mexico that forms a 2′ tall x 4′ wide clump topped with red violet flowers. (Hardiness Zone 7-9a)

Salvia microphylla ‘San Carlos Festival’

Salvia microphylla ‘San Carlos Festival’ (San Carlos Festival Sage) This 1997 Yucca Do introduction was discovered 5 years earlier in Tamaulipas, Mexico, in the village of San Carlos at 3,800′. The 2′ tall x 3′ wide clump is adorned with red violet flowers. (Hardiness Zone 7-9a)

Salvia microphylla ‘Wild Watermelon’ (Wild Watermelon Sage) This 1996 Rich Dufresne introduction is a selection of S. microphylla from a seedling population from a Don Mahoney collection at Cerro Potosi, Mexico at 7000-8500′ elevation. The plant was selected and named by Rich during a visit to the Strybing Arboretum. Salvia ‘Wild Watermelon’ is adorned with large pink flowers. (Hardiness Zone 7-9a)

There are also a number of wonderful hybrids between these woody species. Hybrids of Salvia greggii and Salvia microphylla are known as Salvia x jamensis (pronounced “haamensis”). There is a wide range of hardiness in this group, depending on which clone of each parent is used. Some Salvia x jamensis selections are only hardy in Zone 8b, while others are fine to Zone 7.

Salvia ‘California Sunset’ (California Sunset Sage) Salvia ‘California Sunset’ forms a 3′ tall x 4′ wide clump, topped with peachy orange flowers. (Hardiness Zone 7b-9)

Salvia ‘Maraschino’

Salvia ‘Maraschino’ (Maraschino Cherry Sage) Salvia ‘Maraschino’, a Rich Dufresne hybrid of Salvia microphylla and Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ forms a 30″ tall x 3′ tall clump, topped with bright velvetred flowers. (Hardiness Zone 6-10)

Salvia x jamensis ‘Moonlight’ (Moonlight Sage) Salvia ‘Moonlight’ is a selection from California’s Nevin Smith. Salvia ‘Moonlight’ makes a 2′ tall x 3′ wide clump, topped with light yellow flowers. (Hardiness Zone 8b-10)

Salvia x jamensis ‘Pat Vlasto’ (Pat Vlasto Sage) Salvia ‘Pat Vlasto’ comes from a James Compton expedition to Mexico with the folks from Yucca Do. Salvia ‘Pat Vlasto’ makes a 3′ tall x 3′ wide clump of light orangy-peach flowers. (Hardiness Zone 8b-10)

Salvia x jamensis ‘San Isidro Moon’ (San Isidro Moon Sage) Salvia ‘San Isidro Moon’ is a Yucca Do introduction, discovered in Mexico, which makes a 30″ tall x 3′ wide clump, topped with light peach flowers with a darker rim. (Hardiness Zone 8b-10)

Salvia x jamensis ‘Sierra de San Antonio’ (Sierra San Antonio Sage) Salvia ‘Sierra de San Antonio’ is a Yucca Do selection from Mexico. Salvia ‘Sierra de San Antonio’ makes a 30″ tall x 3′ wide clump, topped in light pastel yellow and orange flowers with dark calyxes. (Hardiness Zone 8b-10)

Salvia x jamensis Stampede Series (Stampede Sage) This series of Salvia x jamensis hybrids were bred by the breeding company Floranova. Each makes a compact 18″ tall x 2′ wide floriferous clump. Varieties include Salvia ‘Stampede Cherry’ (cherry flowers), Salvia ‘Stampede Punch’ (pink fruit punch flowers), Salvia ‘Stampede Citron’ (light yellow flowers), and Salvia ‘Stampede Lavender’ (lavender flowers). (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

There is an array of other woody-stemmed interspecific hybrids including other species. Some of the more popular ones are listed below.

Salvia ‘Christine Yeo’ (Christine Yeo Sage) Salvia ‘Christine Yeo’ is the first Salvia hybrid between S. microphylla and S. chamaedryoides, originating at Christine Yeo’s Pleasant View Nursery in England. For us, Salvia ‘Christine Yeo’ makes a durable 15″ tall x 3′ wide clump, topped with purple violet flowers. (Hardiness Zone 7b-9)

Salvia regla ‘Jame’

Salvia regla (Orange Mountain Sage) A woody Salvia species that is a must for fall garden color is Salvia regla, (Orange Mountain Sage). In the trade, Salvia regla is represented by Salvia regla ‘Jame’, a Dr. Rich Dufresne collection from Coahuila, Jame, Mexico that makes a 4′ tall x 3′ wide clump, adorned with glossy, round green leaves and topped, starting in September, with 3″ long scarlet orange, tubular flowers … a hummingbird’s favorite. South of Zone 7, Salvia regla could reach 10′ tall. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Deciduous Herbaceous Salvia

The next group of Salvias are those which die to the ground during winter. These include Salvia azurea (syn. Salvia pitcheri), Salvia darcyi, Salvia disjuncta, Salvia elegans, Salvia engelmannii, Salvia farinacea, Salvia glabrescens, Salvia glutinosa, Salvia guaranitica, Salvia koyamae, Salvia leucantha, Salvia longispicata, Salvia madrensis, Salvia mexicana, Salvia nipponica, Salvia puberula, Salvia reptans, and Salvia uliginosa. Some members of this group are particularly sensitive to cold, wet winters at the northern end of their hardiness range. We have found that not cutting them back until spring greatly helps winter survival. When they are cut in fall, the stems have a tendency to fill with water and freeze during the winter.

Salvia azurea ssp. pitcheri (Tall Blue Sage) The North American native, Salvia azurea ssp pitcheri is the most cold hardy of this group. Many forms are quite tall and gangly, making them poor garden subjects.

The best is unquestionably Salvia azurea ‘Nekan’. The 3′ tall, upright stems are clothed with linear grey green foliage. From July through September, the stems are topped with lovely, pure blue salvia flowers. S. azurea is at home in dreadfully hot, dry sites, as well as nestled in the midst of the perennial border. Salvia azurea ‘Nekan’ (Nebraska Kansas) is a seed strain named for a selected population found north of Lincoln, Nebraska. For us, this has proven to be a great improvement on the species with its more sturdy upright constitution and larger flowers. (Hardiness Zone 4-8)

Salvia darcyi

Salvia darcyi (Darcy’s sage) is a large-growing Mexican species that was originally offered as Salvia oresbia. It was renamed and officially published by England’s James Compton in a 1994 issue of “Kew.” It was originally discovered in Galeana, Mexico, by Yucca Do Nursery collectors who, unfortunately, received no credit in “Kew.” When given plenty of room and bright light, Salvia darcyi makes a huge, 4′ tall x 7′ wide clump of heart shaped, highly fragrant, light green leaves. Throughout the summer, the clump is topped by spikes of bright orange red flowers (RHS 43A), but in the fall the floral show is nothing short of spectacular. (Hardiness Zone 7-10)

Salvia disjuncta (Misplaced Sage) is a Mexican native species, first distributed in 1993 by California’s Strybing Arboretum, which collected it from the southern Mexican mountains in the late 1980s. The mahogany brown stems stretch to 6′ tall and are covered in tiny white hairs … as are probably the folks who originally collected the salvia. The stalks are adorned with fragrant, fuzzy heart shaped leaves and topped, starting in late October, with intense carmine red tubular flowers. In mild climates, flowering continues through the winter or until a hard freeze. Our plants have survived 6 degrees F unmulched. (Hardiness Zone: 7b 10)

Salvia elegans (Pineapple Sage) This popular Mexican Salvia is prized for its pineapple-scented foliage. The 4′ tall clumps are topped with bright red flowers, starting in midsummer and continuing until frost. Salvia elegans is intolerant of wet soils in cold winters. Salvia elegans is represented in the trade by the following cultivars. (Hardiness Zone 8-10)

Salvia elegans ‘Frieda Dixon’ (Frieda Dixon Pineapple Sage) Salvia ‘Frieda Dixon’ is a Jon Dixon selection that forms a 4′ tall x 3′ wide clump, topped with salmon pink flowers. (Hardiness Zone 8-10)

Salvia elegans ‘Golden Delicious’ PP 17,977

Salvia elegans ‘Golden Delicious’ PP 17,977 (Golden Delicious Pineapple Sage) Salvia ‘Golden Delicious’ is a bright gold-foliage selection from Illinois’s Brent Horvath. The flowers which top the 4′ tall x 3′ wide clumps are typical bright red. ‘Scarlet Pineapple’ (Scarlet Pineapple Sage) Salvia ‘Scarlet Pineapple’ has more, and larger, flowers than the wild species.

Salvia engelmannii (Engelmann’s Sage) is another of those wonderful Salvias that is strangely missing from the mainstream nursery trade. S. engelmannii hails from only 17 counties in Texas … the equivalent of three normal US states, and forms an attractive deciduous clump of light green leaves 1′ tall x 1′ wide. The clump is topped in June with short spikes of light lavender blue salvia flowers. While Salvia engelmannii prefers slightly alkaline soils, we have found this to be a superb rock garden plant in soils with a pH above 6.0. Although we have found Salvia engelmannii easy to grow, good drainage is very important. (Hardiness Zone 7-8, at least)

Salvia farinacea (Mealy Cup Sage) is one of those rare North American native plants (Oklahoma south into Mexico) that has been readily embraced by the bedding plant industry, where it has been hybridized and sold as an annual. In fact, Salvia farinacea is one of the finest, longest-flowering sages that can be grown. Salvia farinacea prefers full sun and good drainage. It is represented in the trade by the following selections. (Hardiness Zone 7b-9)

Salvia farinacea ‘Augusta Duelberg’ (Augusta Duelberg Mealy Cup Sage) This Greg Grant selection was discovered in an old graveyard in Texas. This splendid selection makes a compact 30″ tall x 4′ wide specimen, topped from May until frost with hundreds of spikes of silvery white flowers. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10) Salvia farinacea ‘Blue Bedder’ (Blue Bedder Mealy Cup Sage) Salvia ‘Blue Bedder’ is a seed strain, often sold as a bedding plant, forming a 2′ tall x 1′ wide clump, topped all summer with stalks of blue salvia flowers. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’

Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’ (Henry Duelberg Mealy Cup Sage) This Greg Grant selection was discovered in an old graveyard in Texas. This splendid selection makes a compact 30″ tall x 4′ wide specimen, topped from May until frost with hundreds of spikes of blue salvia flowers. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Salvia farinacea ‘Strata’ (Strata Mealy Cup Sage) This seed strain cultivar is also often sold as a bedding plant. It reaches 18″ tall x 1′ wide and is topped all summer with spikes of blue and white bicolor flowers. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria’ (Victoria Mealy Cup Sage) This cultivar is also often sold as a bedding plant. The 16″ tall x 1′ wide clumps are topped all summer with spikes of blue-violet flowers. (Hardiness Zone 7b-10)

Salvia glabrescens (Japanese Woodland Sage) Salvia glabrescens is an 18″ tall Japanese woodland sage, topped in late summer and fall with spikes of pink flowers. In our trials, it seems to prefer a cooler climate to the heat of Eastern NC. Barry Yinger seems to be the first to bring this into the country from Japan (Hardiness Zone 6-8)

Salvia guaranitica (Anise Sage) hails from Argentina, Brazil and surrounding countries. The cultivars vary in size, spreading ability, and hue of blue salvia flowers Salvia guaranitica prefers full sun and rich moist soils, but an amazing ability to tolerate adverse conditions such as light shade and very dry soils … although it will not perform as well. Salvia guaranitica grows by short-spreading underground rhizomes. Unlike bamboo, a clump of Salvia guaranitica will not take over your garden, but it will enlarge quickly in good soil. Salvia guaranitica is represented in the trade by the following cultivars.

Salvia guaranitica ‘Argentina Skies’ (Argentina Skies Anise Sage) This Charles Cresson selection of S. guaranitica is dramatically different from the normal species. The 3′ tall plant is topped, from midsummer until fall, with hundreds of tubular sky blue flowers (RHS 97A) … not the dark blue salvia flower, which is more typical. This vigorous selection is also somewhat stoloniferous although it doesn’t run far. (Hardiness Zone 6-10)

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ (Black and Blue Salvia) Salvia Black and Blue is an S. guaranitica selection that forms 3′ tall clumps, clothed in fuzzy green, spade shaped leaves. From early June (NC) through October, the slowly spreading patches are topped with 1′ spikes of narrow, long, snapdragon like, luscious, deep blue flowers … a hummingbird favorite. Salvia Black and Blue differs from the norm in that the calyx (the little cup that holds the open flower) is black instead of the usual green, giving the flower a bicolor black and blue look. In rich soil, a 5 year old clump can spread to 6′ wide. (Hardiness Zone 7-10)

Salvia, Scarlet Sage

Salvia, or scarlet sage, is an annual flower best known for its spiky form and bright color that is dependable in any climate and adaptable to full sun or partial shade with equal ease. Salvia comes in brilliant red, creamy white, rose-colored, and purplish variants.

Annuals Image Gallery


Description: Depending upon variety, salvia will grow from eight inches to three feet tall. The spikes of flowers are composed of bright bracts with flowers in the center of each. They are either the same color or contrasting.

How to grow: Salvia is a good dual-purpose plant that will perform dutifully in full sun or partial shade. It needs average soil and continuous moisture to perform its best. Transplant seedlings to the garden after danger of frost has passed. Depending on variety, space from 8 to 12 inches apart.

Propagation: Although seeds can be sown directly in the garden when the soil is warm, sowing indoors in advance will bring earlier flowering. Sow the seeds six to eight weeks before the final frost. Seeds germinate in 12 to 15 days at 70 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Uses: Salvia provides some of the purest scarlet and red flowers in the garden world, and their vertical growth makes them superb accents in the garden. Plant them as spots of color against other colors. They’re a classic combination with blue and white for patriotic plantings. Their ability to bloom well in light shade makes them especially useful with pastel colors that tend to fade in the sun. They also make good container plants.

Related species: Salvia farinacea is a perennial in milder climates that is now widely used as an annual throughout the country. Its common name is mealycup sage for the grayish bloom on its stems and foliage. It grows 18 to 24 inches tall and produces either blue or white flowers. Victoria is the most popular blue; its counterpart is Victoria White. Salvia patens, gentian sage, is named for its rich indigo-blue flowers that have a long blooming season.

Related varieties: Vista grows to 12 inches and has purple shades in addition to red. Flare is taller and blooms somewhat later. The tallest reds, America and Bonfire, will grow to two feet in the garden.

Scientific name: Salvia splendens

Want more information? Try these:

  • Annual Flowers. Discover your favorite annual flowers. We’ve organized them by color, sunlight, soil type, and height to make it easy to plan your garden.
  • Annuals. There’s more to an annuals garden than flowers. Learn about all of the annuals that enhance your garden.
  • Perennial Flowers. Complement your annuals with these delightful perennial flowers. They are also organized by height, soil type, sunlight, and color.

Caring for Red Salvia

The care information provided in this section represents the kind of practical advice is available for all the plants in this web site if you subscribe to the monthly customized newsletter Yardener’s Advisor.
Watering and Fertilizing
As a rule annuals have fairly shallow root systems and they dry out more quickly than well-established perennial plants and shrubs. Red salvias like moist soil, so if they are planted in thin soil with little organic content, or they are not mulched, they may need supplemental watering during the hot summer if rainfall is sparse. Do not allow the soil to become water-logged.

All salvias are light feeders, so they need very little fertilizer, even in poor soil. In the spring, shortly after planting red salvia seedlings, sprinkle a scant tablespoon of an all-purpose slow-acting granular fertilizer on the soil around each plant for the rain to soak in. This will get them off to a good start and provide consistent and continuous nutrition over the season.
Many plants benefit from mulching, especially those that grow in the hot sun which dries out the soil quickly. Spread a 2 or 3 inch layer of some organic material such as dried grass clippings, wood chips, or chopped leaves on the soil around the salvia plants to discourage weeds, help the soil retain moisture and keep the roots cool. As it decomposes, mulch also contributes organic material and the beneficial organisms that live in it to the soil to improve it. For more information see the file on Using Mulch

Remove faded flower stalks over the season by pinching or clipping them off at the point on the stem where the foliage begins. When seedlings of standard height red salvias are 3 or 4 inches tall you can pinch off their tips to encourage them to branch and become bushy. This is not at all necessary, however.
Tall plants such as red salvia often require staking as the season progresses. Heavy rains, wind, or even overhead watering may knock them down, causing their branches, which get brittle as they mature, to split from the main stem or break. Support individual salvia plants by inserting a straight stick or thin stake into the soil next to the main stem. Choose sticks long enough to meet the salvias’ mature height. Using soft, string loosely tie the main stem of each plant to a stick.

Furman’s Red Texas Salvia

Tips For Growing Salvia

Salvia (commonly referred to as ‘Sage’) represent a huge family of ornamental plants that attract a variety of pollinators to their nectar rich flowers. They are resistant to deer and rabbits.

  1. Plant in full sun.
  2. Plant native Western Salvia varieties in soil that is low fertility and well-drained.
  3. Plant Old World Salvia in a wide range of soils (loams, sand) including clay.
  4. Many spring-flowering varieties of sage will re-bloom in fall if deadheaded after the first bloom.
  5. New transplants need regular irrigation their first growing season to establish themselves. Once established they will need regular, deep irrigation during hot, dry weather.
  6. During fall garden clean-up, wait to cut back the plants until spring for improved cold hardiness.
  7. In colder USDA zones (zone 6 and below) it is essential to give Native Southwestern and Southwestern hybrids protection from the extreme cold their first couple winters in the garden. Mound up pine needles or fallen autumn leaves over and around the base of the plant.

Western Native Salvia: : It is from the Western US that we find our most beautiful native salvia species. For attracting hummingbirds, there are no finer flowers than the Western native sages. Typically, this group of Salvia prefer ‘lean’ (not very fertile), well drained soils. They will grow in dry clay conditions in arid climates but will rot out in clay soils where there is more than about 15 to 18” of precipitation annually.

Western Salvia include:

  • Salvia greggii – ‘Furman’s Red’, ‘Cold Hardy Pink’
  • Salvia hybrids – ‘Maraschino’, ‘Raspberry Delight’, ‘Ultra Violet’ and ‘Burgundy Seduction’.
  • Salvia pachyphylla and Salvia dorrii is recommended for arid western gardens.
  • Salvia azurea and Salvia reptans – Early fall bloomers with excellent cold hardiness.

To get established in USDA zones 5 & 6, Western Salvia (noted above) must be planted in spring or early summer, not in the fall. Protect your new plants over their first winter or two in your garden. Cover each plant with a generous pile of clean straw or pine needles. This allows the plant’s crown (junction of root and branches) to mature and obtain maximum cold hardiness.

Old Wolrd Salvia: The Old World Salvia include some of the very best, most durable, longest-lived perennials. These salvia are an excellent choice for gardeners across most of the United States. ‘Old World’ Sages bloom primarily in shades of blue, pink and white. They are well adapted to cold climates and a wide range of soils including clay. The European Salvia are incredibly attractive to honey bees, many of our native bees and bumble bees as well as butterflies.

Old World varieties include:

More in-depth guidance for growing Salvia: Planting Nectar Rich Salvia to Attract Pollinators to the Garden, Sage Advice, The Spectacular Salvia and Cold Hardy, Late Summer / Early Fall Blooming Sages.

Mexican Red Sage (Salvia fulgens) in the Salvias Database

Posted by Marilyn (Northern KY – Zone 6a) on May 27, 2013 12:10 AM

“Salvia fulgens (Cardinal sage or Mexican scarlet sage) is a species of flowering plant native to the Mexican mountains adjacent to the state of Puebla, growing at 8,700-11,000 feet elevation. It prefers the edge of oak and coniferous woodlands, especially in clearings of Abies religiosa. The mountains receive fog and rain nearly year-round.
Salvia fulgens is a small subshrub growing 20–39 inches tall by 16–35 inches wide. The 1 inch long flowers grow in loose whorls, and are brilliant red, reflecting the common name and the synonym S. cardinalis. The upper lip has red hairs which glisten (fulgens) in the morning dew. A reddish-brown calyx remains long after the flowers drop. Inflorescences are usually about 4 inches long, though occasionally a 12 inches inflorescence appears. The heart-shaped leaves are pale yellow-green, about 1.5 inches long by 1 inch wide, and cover the plant quite profusely.”
Taken from wikipedia’s page at:…

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