Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips'
Hot Lips Little-leaf Sage
Item #: 5424
Zones: 6a to 9b
Height: 30" tall
Outrageously cool! This wild selection of the Mexican Salvia microphylla was introduced by Richard Turner of California after the plant was shared with him by his maid, who brought it from her home in Mexico. The fast-growing, 30" tall x 6' wide clump is adorned with stunning bicolor flowers with red tips and white lips...attractive to hummingbirds. When the nights warm in summer, the new flowers are all red with an occasional solid white one. As fall approaches, the flowers again are bicolored red and white. Even if your school colors aren't red and white, this is truly a "must-have" salvia!
Salvia greggii and its close cousin Salvia microphylla and hybrids between the two, Salvia x jamensis, are woody shrubs. They bloom for about six months but are not self-cleaning and the spent flower stalks are retained until a tidy minded gardener comes along and trims them off. The peak time to do this is late winter. At this time the shrubs are cut back by a half to two thirds to remove the dead tops of the plant. This does not require precision. It is a method meant to allow quick clean up of these woody salvias. Of course, any totally dead stems should also be removed. The health of the plant will not be compromised if it is not cleaned up but one will be viewing the current year's flowers amongst last year's dead flower stalks. This is the only routine maintenance that these salvias need.
The selections of Salvia greggii, Salvia microphylla and Salvia x jamensis vary in their vigor. The most vigorous individuals might occasionally need to reined in where they have spread too far if space is limited. But these are the exception to the rule in these normally stationary plants. Excess plants can be dug out and replanted elsewhere if desired.
Salvia greggii, Salvia microphylla and Salvia x jamensis are sun lovers; more sun the better. They are also drought tolerant but also tolerate wet spells if provided with adequate drainage:not excessive drainage, just any soil where water doesn't pool after a rain. They are often called "Autumn Sage" for their peak bloom is late summer into fall, though in the humid eastern US they tend to bloom continuously from spring into fall. Extended dry spells in summer can decrease blooming as is typical in their native range of Texas and Mexico.
The genus Salvia consists of about one thousand species. A few are annuals, most are perennial. The perennial species can be either herbaceous or woody. The woody perennial species are most often shrubs though there are some salvias that are trees. Gardeners from cold climates are often surprised to learn that some salvias are shrubs.
Salvia greggii, Salvia microphylla and Salvia x jamensis can be counted on for nearly six months of bloom in a wide range of color. They are the type of long blooming plant that are good foils for the show stoppers that come and go such as lilies that are in bloom for a few weeks. They are also highly favored by hummingbirds and other pollinators. These features and their low-maintenance make them very valuable part of a sunny garden, including a xeric garden.
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Container Role: Fillers
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