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Salvia mexicana
Salvia mexicana

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Zones 9, 14-17, 19-24
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Full, Partial
Regular Water

Salvia mexicana

Mexican Sage
Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Perennials, Shrubs


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 mexicana

Shrubby perennial, from central Mexico. Robust, erect growth to 10 ft. or taller and 3–5 ft. wide. Leaves to 6 in. long are typically elongated oval or heart shaped; they may be medium green and smooth above, fuzzy beneath, or gray to gray green and densely hairy on both sides. Pleasant pine fragrance. Tightly spaced whorls of 1–2 1/2-in. flowers on 12–20-in.-long stems; blossoms are dark blue or violet with green or reddish purple calyxes. Blooms from early fall through spring in mild-winter climates; stops with hard frost elsewhere.

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