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Products > Salvia spathacea
Salvia spathacea - Hummingbird Sage
Image of Salvia spathacea
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Perennial
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae) (Mints)
Origin: California (U.S.A.)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Rose Pink
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 4-5 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 0-10° F
Salvia spathacea (Hummingbird Sage) - A low growing semi-evergreen herbaceous perennial sage with a ground covering mounding habit to 1 to 2 feet tall and spreading slowly by underground rhizomes to 4 feet or more wide. The plant is slightly sticky to the touch with pleasingly aromatic arrow-shaped light green leaves that can grow to 6 inches long and are wrinkled on top and hairy beneath. The deep rose-pink flowers grow in large pagoda-like whorls on 30-inch-tall flower stalks from late winter into summer.

Plant in full sun to partial shade and give little to occasional irrigation but also tolerates more regular watering. Evergreen in temperatures down to the mid 20's° F but root hardy to at least down to 0 ° F and suitable for USDA Zones 8 to 11. Dead head the inflorescences to their base after the flowering period is over to keep plant low and tidy and dig unwanted spreading rhizomes for replanting elsewhere in late fall or early winter. This is an extremely tough plant that can go dormant in summer but can be kept evergreen with an occasional irrigation and can remain evergreen through winter in gardens where temperatures remain above the 20's° F. It is quite useful in dry light shade such as under the dripline area of a coast live oak. The flowers are attractive to hummingbirds, hence the typical common name but it is also commonly called Crimson Pitcher Sage.

Salvia spathacea is native to shady or open grassy slopes in the lower elevations along the California coastal ranges from Solano County south to Orange County and perhaps into north San Diego County as well. The name Salvia comes from the name used by Pliny for a plant in the genus and comes from the Latin word 'salvere' meaning "to save" in reference to the long-believed healing properties of several sage species. The specific epithet comes from the Latin work 'spatha' (from the Greek spáthe) means a spath and the suffix 'aceous" meaning "composed of" or "having" so meaning "with a spathe" in reference to large spath-like colored bracts that enclose the flower cluster.

Our original stock plants dug from the garden of our friend and one time sales associate Linda Burns along Camino Cielo in the Santa Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara. We have grown this great plant since 1992. 

This information about Salvia spathacea displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.