This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “Garden Gems” series – 45 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region and that add sparkle to drought-tolerant landscapes.
San Carlos Festival sage
Salvia microphylla “San Carlos Festival”
Size: To 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide
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Bloom season: Red-violet flowers from early May through November
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Pruning needs: Cut back by one-third annually in late winter to encourage branching and compact shape.
Water needs: Medium low; once established, water deeply twice a month.
Snapshot: It’s a fiesta for hummingbirds whenever this Mexican sage is in bloom, which is seven months a year. A tough and compact shrubby perennial, San Carlos Festival sage was first discovered in the Mexican village of San Carlos, growing happily at 3,000 feet elevation. With scalloped foliage, this small-leaved sage is covered with red-violet or dark pink blooms from spring to almost frost and can take the Central Valley’s hot afternoon sun. Hummingbirds and beneficial insects love it.
For more on “Garden Gems,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.