Magazine article Sunset

Exuberantly Colorful Year after Year ... the Perennial Sages

Magazine article Sunset

Exuberantly Colorful Year after Year ... the Perennial Sages

Article excerpt

Exuberantly colorful year after year . . . the perennial sages

Their colors are not for the cautious. Brilliantblues, blazing reds, and rich purples are typical of the perennial sages. In mild-winter areas, these exuberant plants bloom year after year. In colder climates, consider them annuals that may survive longer in warm years or in protected sites. These sages perform well in full sun or partial shade and need minimal attention; in desert climates, planting in some shade means less frequent watering. Clip off flowers as they fade, and most plants will bloom off and on from spring or early summer until winter's chill. If foliage gets shaggy, prune back hard--almost to the ground if stems are leafless. Most grow in poor soil as long as it's not soggy. Some are quite drought tolerant.

Here are six flowering perennial sages.The two shown above are widely available; the rest may be harder to find. Look for these and other sages in nurseries specializing in perennials or native plants.

Texas sage (Salvia coccinea). Small scarletflowers stand out against nearly black papery bases. "Brenthurst' has watermelon pink flowers. More compact than most, Texas sage stays 1 1/2 to 2 feet tall. Despite the tender look of its light green leaves, it can take some drought once established.

Mealy-cup sage (S. farinacea). Risingabove gray-green leaves, bright blue-purple flowers cluster tightly along 10-inch-long wands. "Victoria' stays about 2 feet tall; "Blue Bedder' stretches to 3 feet. …

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