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Salvia splendens
Salvia splendens

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Zones 21-24, H2
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Full, Partial
Regular Water
Salvia splendens
Salvia splendens

Salvia splendens

Scarlet Sage
Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Annuals, Perennials


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 splendens

This Brazil native is usually grown as an annual. The traditional bright scarlet bedding sage now comes in a range of colors, from vivid true red through salmon and pink to purple shades. White forms are also available. Plants vary in size from compact 1-ft. dwarfs to 3–4-ft. kinds. Leaves are bright green, heart shaped, 2–4 in. long. Blooms late spring or summer through fall (all year in mild-winter areas); 4–12-in. stems bear 2-in. flowers from 1-in. calyxes of the same color. Can be ravaged by Mexican giant whitefly. Give afternoon shade in hottest climates.

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Salvia splendens

This Brazil native is usually grown as an annual. The traditional bright scarlet bedding sag...

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