There are few gardens that don't have at least one salvia growing in them. Whether you have sun or shade, a dry garden or lots of rainfall, there's an annual salvia that you'll find indispensable. All attract hummingbirds, especially the red ones, and are great picks for hot, dry sites where you want tons of color all season. Most salvias don't like cool weather, so plant them outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.
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More Varieties for Salvia
Black and Blue sage
Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' is a blue-flowering favorite of hummingbirds. Perennial in Zone 7 and warmer; it's grown as an annual in cooler zones.
Salvia farinacea offers stately pale blue blooms on a 3-foot-tall plant of gray-green foliage. It's a perennial in Zones 7-10, but is usually grown as an annual.
Coral Nymph sage
Salvia coccinea 'Coral Nymph' offers bicolor, salmon-and-white tubular flowers on 2-foot stems. Perennial in Zones 8 and warmer; grown as an annual in cooler climates.
Golden Delicious pineapple sage
Salvia elegans 'Golden Delicious' shows off bright golden-yellow foliage that smells of pineapples when rubbed. In autumn it bears spikes of bold red flowers. It can be grown as a perennial in Zones 8-11
Lady in Red sage
Salvia coccinea 'Lady in Red' is an award-winning, long-blooming, heat- and drought-resistant selection with bright red flowers. It grows 2 feet tall. While it's usually grown as an annual, it is perennial in Zones 7-10.
Phoenix Bright Lilac salvia
Salvia splendens 'Phoenix Bright Lilac' offers lilac-purple flowers all summer on compact, 16-inch-tall plants.
Salvia elegans is a tender shrub that has pineapple-scented foliage and bright red flowers in late summer and autumn. The leaves are great for teas or garnishes. It grows 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Zones 8-11, though in most areas it's treated as an annual.
Salvia coccinea is a durable non-stop bloomer popular in park plantings. It's usually grown as an annual, but is perennial in Zones 7-10.
Salvia Companion Plants
You've gotta love annual vinca—it really delivers. It will tolerate a wide variety of conditions and still keep it up with almost unreal-looking, glossy green flowers and pretty pink, lavender, or red flowers that look like tiny parasols. Whether the summer is dry or wet, hot or cold, vinca plugs along unfazed. It makes a great container plant. Or plant it in a bed or border, grouping at least eight or more together for best effect. Plant established seedlings in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Vinca withstands drought but does best with moderate moisture. Fertilize occasionally. Like impatiens, this plant tends to be "self-cleaning" and needs little deadheading.
Sweet Potato Vine
Among the most popular container-garden plants, sweet potato vine is a vigorous grower that you can count on to make a big impact. Its colorful foliage, in shades of chartreuse or purple, accents just about any other plant. Grow a few together in a large pot, and they make a big impact all on their own. Sweet potato vines do best during the warm days of summer and prefer moist, well-drained soil. They thrive in sun or shade.
Ageratum is such a little workhorse that nearly every garden should have some. This annual is an easy-to-grow, old-fashioned favorite that produces a steady show of colorful powder-pufflike flowers from late spring through frost. It's also rarely bothered by pests, so you count on it to look good. Plus, it provides some of the truest blues you can find in flowers—a rare thing. Plant in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Plant in groups of a dozen or more for best show. Deadhead and fertilize regularly for best blooms.