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 chamaedryoides
Perennial, from eastern Mexico. Rounded plant to 1–2 ft. tall and spreading 2–3 ft. or more by underground runners. Silvery, 3/4-in.-long leaves; brilliant true blue, 1-in. flowers on stems to 8 in. long. Heaviest bloom comes in late spring and fall, with intermittent flowering during the rest of the growing season. Deadhead to encourage rebloom. Elegant front-of-border plant. Drought-tolerant but blooms longer and better with more water.
Hybrids derived primarily from South African native Ixia maculata. Clumps of narrow, almost g...
Native to western Asia and the eastern Mediterranean, Ficus carica is grown for its edible fr...
Native to China and northern India. Grows to 30–50 ft. tall and wide, with an irregular habit. R...