Salmon gives a rare color for the garden and would
look incredible with blue evolvulus.
has been well over a decade since I last wrote about the
scarlet sage, and this year it seems like I am
discovering an old friend. It is like this plant I grew
up loving had disappeared, but in truth, while I have
been growing other flowers the scarlet sage has simply
is a good chance you have forgotten about this plant, or
if you are under thirty, there is a very good chance it
is unknown to you. To get started, scarlet sage is an
annual salvia known botanically as Salvia splendens. I
say annual as that is how most of us treat it. In
Florida, youíll find some growing as a perennial.
colors and varieties will ensure a dazzling landscape or
a sizzling mixed container for the whole gardening
season. One group that you probably find new to you is
the Saucy series. Saucy Wine and Saucy Red have both
found fame in the Southern Living Plant Collection,
while Saucy Coral looks as though designed with the
artist gardener in mind with one of the rarest colors in
the gardening world.
Saucy series is relatively large getting 2 to 3 feet
tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. Youíll find that all of the
Salvia splendens will do their part to bring in
hummingbirds and butterflies. Because of their height,
the Saucy series also make great cut flowers.
Deadheading produces more flowers throughout the summer.
Vista series is another group that I have always liked.
These are more compact reaching only 1-foot in height
and 8 to 10 inches in width. The Vista series comes in
six colors and a mix. My color designer son seems to
make sure white flowers are part of his mixes and this
year I have to say the Vista White has been
extraordinary. Here we are in September, and his mixed
planters featuring Vista White are amazing.
Salsa, and Sizzler are also compact when compared to the
Saucy series and have so many colors youíll question
why theyíre called scarlet sage? They originate in
Brazil, so the marketing or varietal names are certainly
from spring through frost means this annual form of
salvia is an exceptional buy and ranks as a strong
performer. Its spiky texture is most welcome in a garden
world dominated by round flowers.
ideal site would get morning sun and mid-afternoon
shade. The soil should be very well drained. Plant on
raised beds or amend heavy soils with the addition of
compost or humus. Plant hardiness zones 8-10 may find
these to be returning perennials with superior drainage.
preparing the soil, incorporate two pounds of a
slow-release, 12-6-6-fertilizer or something balanced
per 100 square feet of planting area. Space the plants
10 to 12 inches apart, planting at the same depth they
are growing in the container.
deeply, once a week, particularly during long dry
a good layer of mulch will reward the gardener with
happier plants by keeping the root zone cooler and the
moisture from quickly evaporating. Prune spent flowers
to encourage branching and blossoms. This will be
important for your late summer and fall display.
a month after planting with a light application of
fertilizer and every six to eight weeks through
scarlet sage comes in almost any color, including two
toned, so it helps to know your color combinations. I
have loved my sonís mixed container of Saucy Coral
with Black and Bloom salvia and lime green Sidekick
ornamental sweet potatoes. And the others with the Vista
White that seems to complement all other colors. Donít
be afraid to use white; it is super as the sun sets and
even reflects moonlight at night.
butterflies and dazzling beauty are pretty good
companions for the scarlet sage giving you a sense of
"green thumb satisfaction."