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Salvia splendens

Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Salvia brasiliensis
  • Salvia colorans
Phonetic Spelling
SAL-vee-ah SPLEN-denz
Description

Scarlet sage is a tender perennial in the Lamiaceae (mint) family native to Brazil that is grown as an annual in North Carolina. It grows from 1 to 3 feet high and 8 to 10 inches wide. The genus name Salvia comes from the Latin word salveo meaning ‘to save or heal’ and refers to the medicinal properties attributed to some plants in the genus. The specific epithet means splendid.

This low maintenance plant prefers full sun to part shade and well-drained soil. Propagate scarlet sage by stem cutting. 

Flowers are typically red, and bloom a long time, from summer to frost.  The tubular showy flowers provide nectar to local butterflies and hummingbirds. Cultivars are available in various shades of red, pink, blue, lavender, orange, and white.

Use scarlet sage in the middle of beds or borders or use their bright cherry red blooms to provide an accent in a cottage or pollinator themed garden.  The flowers can also add interest indoors if scarlet sage is added to a cutting garden. Compact selections are good for edging and in containers.

Quick ID

  • Terminal clusters of scarlet flowers
  • Calyx is two-lipped, broad
  • Corolla is elongate-tubular, upper lobes overtop lower
  • Opposite ovate leaves extend from square twigs

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: No significant problems.

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Annuals, Perennials, Vines, and Groundcovers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens. 

More information on Salvia.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Lighthouse Red'
  • 'St. John's Fire'
  • 'Vista Red White'
'Lighthouse Red', 'St. John's Fire', 'Vista Red White'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#annuals#white flowers#wildlife plant#red flowers#nectar plant#fall interest#cottage garden#cpp#well-drained soil#summer flowers#deer resistant#long bloom time#border planting#cutting garden#spring interest#pollinator plant#fantz#butterfly friendly#nectar plant early summer#nectar plant mid-summer#nectar plant late summer#nectar plant early fall#partial shade tolerant#wilson mg plant sale 2021#container plant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Lighthouse Red'
  • 'St. John's Fire'
  • 'Vista Red White'
'Lighthouse Red', 'St. John's Fire', 'Vista Red White'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#annuals#white flowers#wildlife plant#red flowers#nectar plant#fall interest#cottage garden#cpp#well-drained soil#summer flowers#deer resistant#long bloom time#border planting#cutting garden#spring interest#pollinator plant#fantz#butterfly friendly#nectar plant early summer#nectar plant mid-summer#nectar plant late summer#nectar plant early fall#partial shade tolerant#wilson mg plant sale 2021#container plant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Salvia
    Species:
    splendens
    Family:
    Lamiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Brazil
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 8 in. - 0 ft. 10 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Lipped
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    fused petals
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Flowers red to scarlet; calyx scarlet, zygomorphic, 2-lipped, persisting in fruit with color fading; corolla scarlet, elongate tubular, to 1.3 inches long, ephemeral, short-lived, upper lobes longer than lower lobes. Inflorescence a terminal verticillate raceme; verticillasters 2-6 flowered.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    opposite, petiolate, ovate, crenate, short acuminate,rotund to subcordate, glabrate
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Square
    Stem Description:
    Erect, 8-30" tall square stems
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Cutting Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators