Scarlet Sage, Salvia coccineus, is a native plant from the mint family that comes in a variety of colors including pink, white, purple, and bi-color pink and white.
For my butterfly and moon gardens, I grow the pink version of the Scarlet Sage, which some people refer to as pink salvia. I purchased my pink Scarlet Sage from Florida Native Plants, 730 Myakka Road, Sarasota.
I suggest planting Scarlet Sage under the light shade of a slash pine, Pink Angel Trumpet Tree or red bay tree. They look spectacular next to dwarf Crepe Myrtle bushes as well as the red or pink butterfly bushes.
Here are some things to know about Scarlet Sage when planting it in a night or moon garden, a butterfly garden or hummingbird garden:
No 1: Know your cultivars. The red Scarlet Sage is sometimes called blood sage. Some of the cultivars include the Snow Nymph (white flowers); Coral Nymph (salmon pink and white flowers) and Lady in Red (scarlet flowers).
No. 2: Check the scientific name. When growing a native flower garden, make sure to plant the Salvia Coccineus in any of the beautiful colors, but not the Salvia splendens, which is also called scarlet sage. A native of Brazil, the Salvia splendens does not reseed or attract butterflies or hummingbirds. Our native Scarlet Sage is not the same thing as pink autumn sage or Salvia greggii.
No. 3: Scarlet Sage may grow higher, depending on the weather conditions. Scarlet Sage is reported to grow two to three feet tall. But the pink Scarlet Sage in my yard has grown four to five feet, reaching the top of the air conditioning unit that it nicely hides with its continuous blooms. It may grow taller due to a lot of rain.
No. 4: A Florida native plant, Scarlet Sage also grows in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas, Ohio, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, Hawaii. It survives the winters in USDA Zone 9 and 10 but will reseed in Zones 6 to 8.
No. 5: Scarlet Sage can be grown in the sun or part-shade. It does fine with dry soil, making it a drought tolerant perfect for xeriscaping or water conservation. You may water once every other week if you are having a severe drought.
What I love about my pink Scarlet Sage is that it blooms all year round. In the late fall and winter, when most plants have died down to the ground, my pink Scarlet Sage provides nectar for any lingering butterflies and hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds are attracted most to the red and pink varieties. But if you have a moon or night garden, I suggest planting the white variety.
A perennial, the Scarlet Sage continually self seeds so you may see some springing up in places you may not want. It’s easy to pull up a few here and there to make your garden look the way you want. I love having so many growing next to my air-conditioning unit and my backyard fence.
Scarlet Sage is a butterfly magnet. I’ve also observed Ruby Throated hummingbirds making trips back and forth between my Coral honeysuckle vine and the pink Scarlet Sage!
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Florida Native Plants website