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in Tucson, Phoenix,
Arizona and California

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, Arizona and California

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Salvia greggii: Autumn Sage

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Description
Form: Semi-woody shrub.
Leaf retention: Evergreen to cold deciduous. Loses leaves below 20°F.
Growth rate: Moderate to rapid depending on temperature.
Mature Size: 1-3' high and nearly as wide.
Flowers: Usually red, 1" high, wide and long, distinct hump on top of upper lip, flared two-lobed lower lip at right angle, fragrant, edible. Cultivars available in many colors.
Bloom: All year in regions without freezes. A repeat bloomer.
Fruit: Up to four tiny seeds at the base of each dried calyx (cup-like structure that holds the flower and ovary).
Leaves: Oval, green, smooth edges, aromatic, edible.
Stems: Herbaceous from a woody base, growing woody with age. No thorns.
Wildlife: Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: Texas and Northern Mexico.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 7-11.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Part shade much of day, especially afternoon shade. Slower to establish in full sun. Avoid reflected sun.
Water once established: Once or twice a month. In full sun, water is recommended once or twice a week in the hottest part of the year to produce the most flowers and provide enough nectar for hummingbirds.
Soil: Well drained, organic content medium to low, pH 6.1-7.8 (slightly acidic to slightly alkaline).
Mulch: Only just before freezing temperatures are predicted. Remove mulch after last freeze of winter so soil will dry quickly.
Prune: In mid winter, prune lightly to shape, or severely to rejuvenate. Prune every 4-6 months, by as much as one-half, to avoid rangy appearance.
Litter: Low.
Propagation: Seed, cuttings, or layering.
Uses: Ornamental, wildlife attractor, culinary. Leaves, tasting either like mint or a cross between mint and sage, depending on cultivar and soil moisture, can be used fresh or dried for seasonings and teas. The edible flowers, used to add color to salads, taste like lettuce.

Comments
A member of the mint family. Many cultivars are available, including crosses with Salvia microphylla. The butterfly shown in the picture could either be a Cloudless or a Clouded Sulphur.



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Salvia greggii: Autumn Sage - flowers

Salvia greggii: Autumn Sage - with butterfly

Salvia greggii: Autumn Sage - with hummingbird

Salvia greggii: Autumn Sage