Drought-tolerant, deer-resistant and sun-loving — salvia is a savvy replacement for water-guzzling grass. Check out a few of our favorites.
There’s only so much information we can fit on a fact sheet or flyer. Take the WaterSaver Landscape Coupon plants card we distribute throughout the year. The colorful card lists 40 approved plant species simplified into categories. But there are so many more options within each category.
This article will explore one of the largest species groupings: salvias.
Salvias all can be distinguished by their uniquely square stem shape and small numerous flowers that often grow in spires. Most salvias prefer full sun, but will do well in part shade, so planting under large trees is okay. Bonus: deer tend to steer clear of all salvias so they’re useful if you have an issue with deer chowing down on your plants.
Here are a few of my favorites to include on your shopping list for the coupon season.
Mealy Cup Sage
Despite the name, there’s nothing mealy about this plant! Even within this species there are multiple cultivars available: ‘Henry Duelberg’, ‘Augusta Duelberg’, ‘Victoria’ and ‘Evolution’ to name a few. You can expect butterflies and moths with any of these salvias.
If you want hummingbirds, put in cedar sage with some Turk’s cap or red yucca then sit back to enjoy the show. The large, tube-shaped flowers and fiery red color are absolute magnets for the buzzy birds. Cedar sage has the added benefit of being a Texas native so our local hummingbirds are familiar with it and love it. Like all the other plants on this list, its drought-tolerant nature will go easy on your water bill, too.
Big Red Sage
Big red sage is also a hummingbird magnet, but unlike cedar sage it has a tendency to sprawl out more. This plant is endemic to the Texas Hill Country and once thought to be extinct, but the landscape industry has brought it back from the brink.
Giant Blue sage
This big, beefy salvia can grow up to 5 feet by 5 feet, and there are many cultivars with ‘Black and Blue’ being a popular one. Give it plenty of space if you put it in the ground and it will fill in nicely.
Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’
This was the first plant I received from a coworker at SAWS — it was also one of the first ornamental plants I ever tried to grow. I planted my tiny mystic spires salvia in a medium-sized pot with some purple skullcap and it took off! This plant is easy to grow and gives obvious signs when it needs water, but it’s difficult to kill.
All sages will need to be cut down to the ground come mid-February.
Our plant database has information on nearly two dozen salvia species, but there are always more species and cultivars appearing in nurseries. If you see a salvia you like in a park or someone’s yard, take a picture and ask your favorite nursery if they carry it.
And if you’re a newly-turned salvia fan, consider the WaterSaver Landscape Coupon to replace some water-guzzling turf with a collection of your favorite salvia species.