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Description

The autumn sage is a evergreen shrub that grows with a mounding habit, 2-4 ft. tall and 4 ft. wide. Deep green leaves grow to 1 in. long and have a light resinous coating on their surface. Colorful flowers are most often cardinal-red and highly attractive to hummingbirds. Flowering occurs spring, fall and intermittently throughout the year. A number of cultivated selections are available from nurseries and garden centers that provide white and salmon flowers.

Autumn sage is one of the most popular sages grown in the Inland Empire gardens and landscapes for use as an almost continuously flowering accent plant . It comes from arid climate regions of the southwest, including Mexico, Texas and New Mexico, where it grows in sandy washes and plains, and tolerates temperatures to 0°F. It is easy to grow and very tolerant of heat, sun and aridity. Once established, it requires only low amounts of supplemental water during summer. Most plants become twiggy after 2-3 years and heavy pruning is recommended in late fall to maintain smaller sizes and best foliage character. Several cultivars are available that grow to the same size, but offer different flower colors. These include: S. g. 'Alba' produces white flowers; S. g. 'Furman's Red' has large bright red flowers; and S. g. 'Salmon' has salmon and creamy white flowers.

Water Needs

Autumn grows is well adapted to sunny locations and with low amounts of supplemental water during summer. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water; more moisture during the spring and early summer will result in greater flowering performance.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 2

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
 
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"-14"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

 
0"-2"
0"-2"
0"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
0"-2"
0"-2"
  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, click here.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Shrub
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Mounding
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 2 ft. - 4 ft.
Width: 3 ft. - 4 ft.
Water Needs: Low 2
Foliage Color: Medium green
Flower Color: Red
Flower Season: Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Sand
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Frost, Drought, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Hummingbird plant, Flowering accent plant, Container plant, Borders, Banks, Attracts butterflies

Maintenance

Salvia greggii is best maintained like a perennial instead of like the shrubby Salvias to which it is related. Most importantly, Salvia greggii should get a hard cut back in the late fall or winter after blooms are spent, leaving just one set of buds or small leaves at the base of each branch. It will rapidly regrow reinvigorated fresh foliage and bloom heavily the following season. If Salvia greggii does not get this annual hard cut back, it does not look as good and after a few years is rangy looking and woody, with few leaves compared to woody branches. At this point it can be difficult to save, because the older thicker branches further from the buds do not resprout well after cutting into. A hard annual pruning will help prevent this. If you miss late fall / winter pruning, feel free to try any time of year, you just might cut off developing flower buds (S). During the blooms season, prune out dead flower stems on a regular basis to extend the bloom (5).

References

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