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 coahuilensis
Shrubby perennial, from the mountains of Coahuila, Mexico. Grows to 2 1/2 ft. tall and wide. Many slender, upward-sweeping woody branches, sparsely clothed with evergreen, 1-in., linear olive green leaves. Deep violet, 1-in. flowers appear on 3–5-in. stems from early summer to frost, all year in mild-winter climates; heaviest bloom in early summer and fall. Cut back to about 8 in. from the ground in late winter. Moderate water.
Native to Australia. This groundcover grows to 3–6 in. high and 9 ft. wide, with a dense coverin...
Grows to 3–5 ft. tall and wide, with bright green, needlelike leaves. Bright red, spidery flower...
Native mostly to Southern California. Broader, more leathery leaves than the species.