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Salvia sonomensis

Sonoma Sage, Creeping Sage

Perennials, Shrubs, Flowers


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 sonomensis

Shrubby perennial, native to the dry foothills of California Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada. Mat-forming creeper grows to 8–12 in. high and spreads 3–4 ft. or more, rooting where branches touch the soil. Evergreen, rough, irregularly notched leaves are dull green or gray-green; they may be narrow and 3–4 in. long or much wider and shorter. Small (less than1/2 in.) lavender-blue flowers rise above foliage on leafless, 6-in. stems in late spring or early summer. Needs perfect drainage and gritty soil. Drought-tolerant. Best with some high shade in hottest climates.

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