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Salvia spathacea - Hummingbird Sage


This rare salvia definitely belongs in the Unusual Plant Department. Bright magenta flowers bloom in clusters up fat 2' tall spikes. One of the first plants to bloom each winter, the blossoms open in succession, so there's always a burst of vivid color somewhere. Hummingbirds can find it from miles around, and will get in your face if you mess with their plant.

Native to coastal California, Hummingbird Sage prefers shade to sun, tolerates heat, awful soil, minimal water, and temps from 110* to below freezing, ideal for the lazy gardener. It's perennial in zones 7-10, a fine annual elsewhere.

The foliage is intensely fragrant, the flowers only mildly so to humans, but intoxicating to hummers and butterflies. Deer ignore it entirely.

Its seeds are huge for a salvia, as big as a split pea. They need to be soaked before planting, can be slow to germinate and may take a month to sprout, but they will come through. Plant them two or three feet apart, or cluster them in a large container for a dramatic display.

5 fat seeds

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