Scientific Name: Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips'
Common Names: ASmall Leaf Sage
Plant Type: Shrub
Environment: Prefers sun, moderate water and well drained soil. Hardy and drought tolerant.
Bloom: Bi-colored (white with red) flowers appear from late summer through fall attracting hummingbirds and butterflies.
Uses: Works well as a medium-sized shrub; great for use in borders and beds. Plants can get to be 2-4 feet tall and up to 6 feet wide.
Other: Salvia, like all mint family plants, have square stems and opposite, fragrant leaves
Salvia microphylla (small-leaf sage) is an exuberant evergreen shrub from the Pine-Oak Forests of Mexico with flowers that are entirely red. The cultivar, 'Hot Lips has flowers that are bi-colored, white with red on the bottom half of the lower lip. It flowers continuously if in full sun, from late summer through fall and can have a spread of six feet. It was first noticed by Dick Turner, in the garden of a housekeeper living in San Miguel de Allende in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, and was brought back as a cutting to the San Francisco Botanical Garden in 1999. Volunteers at the nursery propagated it, and after watching it develop its striking flowers gave it its racy name. Its beauty, hardiness and drought tolerance has made it a winner among growers of Salvia. There are times when some of the individual flowers can be either all white or all red on the same plant. Dick Turner believes this corresponds to the age of the flowering branches.
There are 900 species of Salvia growing all over the world, with nearly 500 in New World alone! All salvias have three similar characteristics: the flower structure is two-lipped, the stems are square and the leaves opposite. Hummingbirds are attracted to Salvias with their bright colors and tubular petal parts holding nectar, where they can sip while hovering above them.
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Text by Kathy McNeil. Photos by Joanne Taylor.