50909Perhaps in the wild, it blooms in autumn. Where it gets watered in home gardens, even if watered only occasionally, autumn sage, Salvia greggii, blooms all through summer as well. If pruned back severely over winter, it starts to bloom even sooner in spring. The tiny flowers are red, rose, pink, peach, very pale yellow, lavender or white. Some poplar cultivars have bi-colored flowers.

Compact autumn sage that does not get much more than a foot tall is uncommon. Larger cultivars get four feet tall and broad, with more open growth. Most get about three feet high and a bit wider. Without severe winter pruning, stems can eventually get twiggy, with sparse foliage on the exterior. The tiny aromatic leaves are less than an inch long, and visually resemble oregano.

Even though it is not native to California, autumn sage is popular for native landscaping because it does not need much water. Just like native sages, it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

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12 thoughts on “Autumn Sage

  1. I am always looking for something to plant in that area between the fence and the sidewalk and this looks perfect. The idea of something that blooms all summer is fabulous. My sage plant blossoms in spring–lovely purple blooms. This plant, though, looks hardy and I could try to get the compact type. I assume it isn’t used for seasoning…

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    1. It is not used for seasoning. It may get a bit too broad for the parkstrip, although there are many more cultivars than those that I am familiar with. It does happen to be popular for parkstrips in San Jose. It gets planted in the middle, and is allowed to spread to the edges, only to be cut back in winter and repeat the process.

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      1. Oh! a foot is not wide at all. They could survive out there, but would need regular pruning, and would look like they were pruned regularly. They do happen to be one of the few salvias that can be shorn if necessary.

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      2. Ugh. Zinnias work really well there. the artemisia silver king falls over. Sonata cosmos, when I can find the seeds, and yarrow, which one of my volunteers weeded (yeah) work well. Got any ideas? It’s lush and lovely in spring, then needs a bit of toughness…

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      3. Concrete. A foot wide space out in such a high traffic situation will always be a difficult spot. I put common zonal geraniums in my narrow planter box, but they did not need to tolerate traffic and frost. I am sorry that I do not have any recommendations. What works in my region probably would not tolerate the frost there.

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      4. We’re in a microclimate here, so frost won’t be until sometime in November. The main issue is heat from the sidewalk and lack of water (unless we have a year like this one). People do plant geraniums that get quite large and something that looks like begonias as well, but I’m usually working from seed because it’s at least 60 feet long, maybe a little more. Ah well, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for other ideas through the winter.

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  2. I have a variety of these salvias, and they are so neat! I think I have about 5 different colors, if not more. They bloom throughout the year, but they do really take off later in the summer.

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    1. It seems like not too long ago, there were not much more than five cultivars. They all looked about the same, except with different color bloom. Some of the newer cultivars have those big flowers in bright colors. Some stay more compact.

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