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Scarlet Sage

Salvia coccinea

This native Texas plant came up in an area that I sowed various wildflowers, to see what would happen. It is a fairly shady area, and these were the only flowers that seem to like this kind of shade and moistness. I didn’t do much to the soil, and many flowers sulked at the clay they were thrown in but not this flower.

Update: November 12, 2008. I sowed these indoors of December 2007, and most were up and nearly outgrowing their 4-inch pots by February and by March they were blooming. They are very easy to germinate so I’d suggest if you do sow them indoors, do so a little later in the winter, since they grow fast and are tender to frost. I planted them anyway in March and they bloomed and grew in my front shade bed like crazy.

By the end of the summer Scarlet Sage can look a little ratty and formless but my patch of them was still blooming last week when I pulled them all out to re-do the bed. I still think these behave more like annuals in Austin, because I have yet to see them return in spring but perhaps I haven’t given them a chance as I tend to change my beds around in spring quite a bit. (Mealy blue sage, Salvia farinacea, has suffered the same problem in my hands; after looking scraggly in late fall, I tend to pull them all out.)

Nevertheless, Scarlet Sage blooms happily and fully in full shade all summer long. And that’s a very very rare plant. Having a garden that is almost 80 percent shade with trees and buildings around me, I am constantly having to replace ‘full sun’ plants with something a little more forgiving.