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Arboretum Spotlight: San Carlos Festival sage puts on show

San Carlos Festival sage blooms seven months a year and thrives in hot afternoon sun without much water.
San Carlos Festival sage blooms seven months a year and thrives in hot afternoon sun without much water.

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “40 Plants You (Probably) Have Never Heard of – But Will Love,” 40 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region but hard to find.

San Carlos Festival hybrid sage

Salvia “San Carlos Festival”

Size: 2  1/2 feet tall by 3 feet wide

Bloom season: Red-violet flowers May to November

Exposure: Blooms better in full sun, but also grows in partial shade.

Pruning needs: Prune in early spring to maintain compact size.

Water needs: Medium low; once established, water once a week.

Snapshot: Some sages like it hot, and this little wonder is among the best. San Carlos Festival hybrid sage is a compact form of the “microphylla” or little-leaf sages that are unique in their ability to re-sprout from the ground if cut down. This pretty shrub features small egg-shaped leaves with wavy margins and netlike veins that distinguish it from the autumn sage. Tough and colorful in bloom, this adaptable plant thrives even in hot afternoon summer sun. Seven months a year, San Carlos Festival sage puts on a show with hot pink/red-violet blooms, a favorite of hummingbirds and beneficial insects.

For more on “40 Plants,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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