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 chiapensis
Perennial, from the cloud forests of Chiapas, Mexico. Many 1 1/2–2-ft. stems form a relaxed clump 3–4 ft. or more wide; growth is taller and laxer in shade. Evergreen, elliptical, glossy dark green leaves up to 3 in. long. Deep hot pink, 3/4-in. flowers in widely spaced whorls on stems to 1 ft. long; blooms from early summer through winter in frost-free areas or greenhouse. Reseeds freely. Succeeds with moderate water but appreciates frequent wetting of leaves. Good groundcover for dryish shade; good in containers.
Stems to 10–12 in. high, with yellow flowers tipped in red and green. Inch-wide leaves. ‘P...
Well-known hybrid involving a species from the West Indies. Somewhat more tender than most fuchsia hyb...
Native to tropical Asia. Robust fern with delicate dark green fronds. Grows to 2–3 ft. tall and ...