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Native Southern Sages

Updated on March 6, 2015
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Yvonne writes about and photographs the flora and fauna of Louisiana, sharing knowledge she learned through study and personal experience.

Texas scarlet sage with cypress vine - both attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Texas scarlet sage with cypress vine - both attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

S. coccinea and S. Lyrata

Native Sages are beautiful additions to the garden. Both Scarlet sage (Lady in Red) and Lyre-leaf Sage attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Scalet sage usually has red flowers, but also comes in coral and white. This member of the same family as the culinary herb, common sage, is a tender perennial (in much of the south) and an annual elsewhere. S. lyrata is a blue flowering perennial.

Both native varieties of salvia grow well in naturescaping or along the edge of a rain garden because they are drought tolerant.

Native Sages are a MUST for the Hummingbird or Butterfly Garden

Lady in Red - S. coccinea

The origin of Scarlet or Texas sage can be traced to Mexico and it has spread through most of the subtropical regions of North America. It is usually an annual, but is a tender perennial in the coastal south. Scarlet-red is the most common color, but its tubular flowers come in many shades including orange-red, red, scarlet, pink, salmon and white. Bicolors also occur in which the upper lip is a different color than the lower lip.

Most of the photos shown here are available as print-on-demand products at Naturegirl7's Zazzle Shop.

Sulfur Butterfly on Coral Nymph


Scarlet Sage seeds

SAGE SCARLET Salvia Coccinea --- 500 Flower Seeds
SAGE SCARLET Salvia Coccinea --- 500 Flower Seeds
Scarlet sage is easy to start from seed. This package will grow hundreds of plants.

Propagation can be done by seed or cuttings. Cuttings will produce plants identical to the parent plant, while seeds may produce many different colors and sizes. An early spring sowing of seeds will result in August flowering. Cuttings can be rooted in moist soil in the shade.

Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade in good garden soil that is rich in humus with some sand. They do best with weekly watering, but are somewhat drought resistant and can be grown as annuals in any climate zone.

For a nice show and to attract hummingbirds and butterflies, plant in groups of 3 or more with other late blooming annuals or perennials.

New Book of Salvias

The New Book of Salvias: Sages for Every Garden
The New Book of Salvias: Sages for Every Garden
An excellent book about the many perennial sages that will grow in your garden and attract pollinators.

Lyre-leaf Sage - S. lyrata

The hardy native perennial, Lyre-leaf Sage signals the return of the

Ruby-thoated hummingbirds to North America in spring. The name "lyre-leaf" was given because the leaves look something like the ancient harp like musical instrument, the Lyre.

The rosette of leaves makes a colorful ground cover for most of the year. In early spring, beautiful spikes of light blue to lavender flowers shoot up to put on quite a show.

Lyre-leaf sage likes sandy soil and full sun to part sun. It is hardy and easy to grow. It can be planted in beds or used as a ground cover. For a ground cover, the seed heads can be mowed down with a lawn mower set on the highest level. The beautiful leaves will remain and will sometimes put on a second bloom.

Propagate by seed.

Lyre-leaf's Rosette of Leaves

Common Garden Sage Culinary Herb

Common Garden Sage, S. officinalis, is not native to the United States, but it is related to our beautiful native Salvias. Common Sage is a culinary herb that will add a delicate flavor to many dishes, but especially poultry.

Garden Sage


Several useful sage plants such as bush sage (S. leucantha), black and blue sage (S. guaranitica) and rosebud sage (S. involucrata) are excellent additions to a butterfly or hummingbird garden. All three are perennials which are native to the Western United States.

Gardeners' Guide discusses all these and more and gives you information about growing them in the landscape.

Flower Border

This mixed flower border contains Cardinal flower, purple bush sage and white scarlet sage.
This mixed flower border contains Cardinal flower, purple bush sage and white scarlet sage.

Native Sage Poll

Do you plant native sages in your garden?

See results

Hummingbird Feeding on Salvia Vid

Red Salvia coccinea and Sulphur Butterfly

Sulfur butterflies flock to the red flowers of scarlet sage. Hummingbirds also enjoy the rich nectar.

Coral Nymph


© 2015 Yvonne L B

Tell us about your favorite Salvia or just leave a comment.

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    • naturegirl7s profile imageAUTHOR

      Yvonne L B 

      6 years ago from Covington, LA

      Yes indeed, poetryman6969. The sage family is made up of many beautiful perennials that are perfect for butterfly or hummingbird gardens. Thanks for the comment.

    • poetryman6969 profile image


      6 years ago

      If butterflies and humming birds like sages then these are the plants for me!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      Just popped back over to bless this lens. I always learn something new when I visit your lenses. Thank you for bringing me into the natural world of Louisianan and especially for teaching me about native southern Salvias.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      11 years ago from Royalton

      Being new to the south, I never knew what those beautiful little red flowers were. Thank you for identifying the sages for me.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Gee 

      11 years ago

      I have a wild flower growing in my natural area. I do not know what it is, but I think it could be one of the wild sages. I need to take a picture and send it to you.

      Really good lens you have here!

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 

      12 years ago

      Simply breathtaking!

    • groovyfind profile image

      Samantha Lynn 

      12 years ago from Missouri

      Fantastic lens, the images are beautiful!

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 

      12 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Hey! This is worth the wait. I will add it today or tomorrow to the Senior Squids challenge.

      Your photo are very good.

    • Franksterk profile image

      Frankie Kangas 

      12 years ago from California

      Fabulous lens. What beautiful plants. Bear hugs, Frankie aka Bearmeister

    • Terry Boroff profile image

      Terry Boroff (flipflopnana) 

      12 years ago from FL

      Beautiful lens and photos! Just what I need to help me plan a butterfly garden for my granddaughter.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      12 years ago from California

      What perfect timing for this lens...was just telling a friend I have no idea what I have that is attracting both hummingbirds and beautiful I know. thanks and definitely 5'ed and faved.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      So glad these lovely flowers were finally set free ;). It is a beautiful lens!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Glad to see this lovely lens is now published ;) The Hummingbird video is delighful. Very colourful pics and agorgeous shades of red.

      A SquidAngel blessing from me to boost it on its way!


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