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The Humble Red Salvia
June 16, 2014

It is said that every cloud has a silver lining.

Here is a silver lining.......

Mid June, and Open House season is finally over for us.


Still, it always seems there is something going on.

A wedding or two to attend this summer.

A short vacation later this month (well needed I might add).

The girls and I usually take a short trip Up North a couple times a year.

The Coyotes are still out and about.

I walked with my camera a few times.

Of course, those are times they stay hidden.

I'm not sure I could get any kind of picture, anyway.

It is fun to watch the kits at play.

Other than that, Thank The Lord, all is well around here.

When designing a garden that will attract hummingbirds you need to plant as many nectar flowers as you can in your beds, pots, and hanging baskets.

Native plants are preferred, but aren't always available to plant and grow.

Columbine, Agastche, Monarda, Heuchera , and Lobelia, are just a few native perennials for hummingbirds.

Plan a continuous blooming
schedule to give hummingbirds a reason to be in your yard all season.

Hummingbirds are attracted to tubular shaped blossoms where the nectar is hidden away from most other pollinators.

They also prefer flowers whose plant parts don’t interfere with flight, ones with outward facing flowers arranged around the stem of the plant.

Flower color is also a quality that attracts hummingbirds.

Though they will visit flowers of every color; red, orange, and purple blossoms grab their attention.

Anyone that knows me, or has subscribed to this newsletter for any length of time, knows I am a big fan of Red Salvia (Salvia splendens).

If I had but one flowering plant to choose from for my hummingbirds, it would be the Red Salvia.

They bloom all season long, and only get better.

They come in various sizes and colors to fill many of your needs.

Plant nectar level can vary from 16%, up to 30% plus.

The lower percent rate is in the dwarf varieties, while the higher concentrates of nectar seems to be in the tall varieties.

The magic mixture of 4 parts water to 1 part sugar is about 22%

The higher the concentrate, the more energy the bird gets at any given feed.

Flowers typically provide more for the hummers than our feeders do.

The Red Salvia


A little history on the plant.


Salvia splendens was first described and named in 1822.

(Buds opening in my yard.)

At that time it was given the common name "Lee's scarlet sage".

Before the plant was selected to become dwarf in size, an early Dutch selection named 'Van Houttei' was chosen and is still popular in the horticulture trade.

Red salvia (S. splendens) is native to Brazil, where it is a perennial.

Scarlet Sage is also a common name for this plant.

We grow them as annual plants in temperate zones (they are winter hardy in Zones 10, 11).

Elsewhere, they are damaged by hard frosts and will not survive through cold winters.

A herbaceous perennial in the Lamiaceae family.

Native to Brazil and 10-111 Zone hardy

Plants grow from 1.00 to 3.00 feet (.3-1m)

Bloom Time is June to frost.

I've had these plants growing and blooming into November on a rare occasion or two.

Plant in full sun to part shade.

Well drained soil with medium water needs.

Continue to pinch back and deadhead for optimal growth and continuous blooms.

A regular feeding schedule for your plants is wise.

A low maintenance plant that deters rabbits, deer, and the scourge of my gardens..... the wretched Groundhog (woodchuck).

The flowers attract Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and some bees.

Plant in mass.

Slugs, do enjoy chewing on and stripping them if not watched (yes, the voice of experience).


Tender perennial that is winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11.

Grow as a warm weather annual in average, evenly moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade.

For you seed starters, start seed indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date.

Seed of Salvia splendens germinate by light, do not cover the seeds.

Other salvia or sages, follow instructions and cover with soil.

Set out seedlings or purchased plants after last frost date.

If desired, cut back and pot up several plants in fall or take cuttings in late summer for overwintering in a bright but cool sunny window.

The native type is rarely used or described, though it grows from 1.5 to 26+ feet (1.5 - 8m) in height.

That would be one spectacular sight, and probably the origination of some of the taller varieties we come across from time to time.

The most common selections are the dwarf sizes that go by names such as 'Sizzler' and 'Salsa', 'Red Hot Sally', and planted along front borders of many gardens.

'Van Houttei' reaches 1 to 1.3 m 3.3 to 4.3 feet (1 - 1.3m) in height is wonderful for the back of a border and in mass.

The various types typically have red flowers:


Named cultivars (cultivated varieties) are many, here are a few of the more popular names.

'Alba', with white flowers;

'Atropurpurea', with dark violet to purple flowers;

'Atrosanguinea', flowers dark red; 'Bicolor', flowers white and red;

'Bruantii', small, with red flowers;

'Compacta', small, flowers in dense racemes, white or red;

'Grandiflora', large, with large red flowers;

'Issanchon', small, with white flowers striped pink to red;

'Nana', an early-flowering cultivar, with red blossoms;

'Scarlet Pygmy', a very dwarf, early flowering seed race with intense scarlet blossoms;

'Semperflorens', continuous flowering;

'Souchetii', small, with white or red flowers;

'St. John's Fire', dwarf plants with dense, abundant, bright red, early-flowering, long-lasting blossoms;

'Violacea', flowers dark violet to purple.

Plant in mass and at various heights.

This makes a dramatic display in your gardens and is sure to attract the hummingbirds.

I have planted Red Salvia for more years than I dare remember.

It is one annual every garden should have.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

I don't think anything is unrealistic if you believe you can do it. I think if you are determined enough and willing to pay the price, you can get it done.

Mike Ditka

I do believe in our own determination, and motivation.

We also must have certain skills.

However, The Scripture tells us to put our trust and faith in Jesus.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Apostil Paul, Philippians 4:13

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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