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A Floridata Plant Profile #714 Salvia mexicana
Common Names: Mexican sage
Family: Lamiaceae/Labiatae (mint Family)
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Shrub  Perennial  Attracts Hummingbirds Attracts Butterflies Fast Growing Has Unusual or Interesting Foliage Flowers

Mexican sage
Description
In warm climates, Mexican sage can get as big as 12 ft (3.7 m) tall but in cultivation it usually maxes out around 5 ft (1.5 m) tall with a spread of 3 ft (0.9 m). It has blue flowers and various calyx colors. Mexican sage is highly variable in both leaf form and flower details. This is a fall-blooming sage with nice form and rugged character. The interesting foliage carry S. mexicana in the garden until autumn when its late blooming period commences and it becomes the star of the show. Unlike many of the salvias, Mexican sage does not have a strong scent.

Location
Mexican sage is native to central Mexico where it occurs near the edges of forests and in open woods.

Culture
Mexican sage thrives in high temperatures. It tolerates clayey soils, but still requires good drainage.
Light: Mexican sage does best with morning sun and partial or dappled shade at midday.
Moisture: Provide moderate water in hot climates. In the Austin, Texas area Mexican sage does well with 1/2-1 in (1.3-2.5 cm) of water per week in the summer. Growth continues even through very hot summer periods as long as supplemental water is available.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 11. S. mexicana can take some frost and will freeze back to the ground as temperatures fall into the lower 20s (ºF). In areas with less frost and warmer temps it likely will keep its foliage year round. In my south central TX garden S. mexicana is rivaled only by S. involucrata and S. madrensis for rapid growth as temperatures rise in the early spring. Mexican sage can be grown as an annual in cooler climates. The cultivar 'Minor' blooms earlier, and is therefore useful in cool climates.
Propagation: Propagate Mexican sage from tip cuttings taken in summer. Mexican sage is easy to start from seed, but it may be hard to find a seed source.

Usage
S. mexicana is good as a medium size shrub. It maintains a neat, symmetric bush shape. It could be used as an understory plant or on the edge of a wooded area. It is possible to plant smaller plants underneath Mexican sage since its overall shape is uniform and it does not spread out significantly.

Features
Mexican sage has beautiful dark blue flowers from late summer through fall, depending on weather conditions. The cultivar, 'Limelight' has beautiful lime-green flower bracts which make for a striking contrast. The leaves have nice white veining. The leaves look much like those of the very tough and reliable 'Indigo Spires' cultivar. Mexican sage, like most salvias, is very attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.

John Rembetsky 6/16/00; updated 2/7/04, 10/31/05





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