Thought of as drought-tolerant shrubs in much of the West, this huge genus—the largest in the mint family—includes many species of shrubs and perennials that need moderate to regular water. In recent years, scores of new species and selections have appeared in Western nurseries, many tender varieties that are even being offered as annuals in cold-winter climates. All sages have square stems and whorls of two-lipped flowers, either distinctly spaced along flower stalks or so tightly crowded that they look like one dense spike; some species have branched inflorescences. Flower colors range from white and yellow through salmon and pink to scarlet and pure red, from pale lavender to true blue and darkest purple. A few sages have fragrant blossoms. Many have aromatic foliage.
Nurseries in the West offer nearly 100 species as well as dozens of selections and hybrids. Names are often confused; S. x jamensis varieties are often assigned to S. greggii; and S. nemorosa varieties are often interchanged with S. x superba and S. x sylvestris varieties.Salvia buchananii
This shrubby perennial is thought to be native to Mexico. Rounded growth to 1–2 ft. tall and wide, with widely spaced, glossy dark green, oval leaves to 2 in. long. Lax, 8–12-in. stems support drooping, 2-in., brilliant magenta flowers. Blooms in summer and fall, and sporadically in other seasons in milder part of the range. Sets no seed; propagate from cuttings. Handsome in containers; winter it indoors in cold climates.
Native to the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California. Foliage clumps grow to 1–2 f...
Groundcover native to South Africa. Forms a tight mat 2–3 in. high, spreading slowly by offsets ...
Colorful Mexican and Guatemalan native formerly known as Schizocentron elegans. Grows to just...