Is it a perennial, or is it a shrub?

Deep rosy-pink Salvia greggii is in starring role in this McKinney landscape this week. Click image for larger view.

We’ve been blessed with dozens of great salvias. Fact is, we’ve been blessed with dozens of this species (Salvia greggii) alone. It may be the longest-lasting, most dependable perennial you ever planted.

Salvia greggii Purple and Salvia greggii ‘Big Pink”.

After you grow it a few years, you’re going to wonder if it couldn’t be used as a small shrub. It’s woody. While other salvias die to the ground over the winter, this one stands as a small shrub 18 to 36 inches tall.

Continued Below

But let’s get right to the facts…

Scientific name: Salvia greggii (named by renowned botanist Asa Gray in 1870 for naturalist, explorer, and author of the Southwest Josiah Gregg who found the plant growing natively in Texas.

(As a side note, as I was working alongside my father in his TAMU herbicide research on plants toxic to sheep and goats, I saw a lot of this plant in bloom in the Hill Country.)

Common name: Autumn sage, or often simply called by its scientific name.

Going in tight on today’s star, this rosy-red cultivar is one of the more popular shades you’ll see people choosing. Most native autumn sages will also be in shades of red.
Native Range map for Salvia greggii within the United States. From the Native Plant Society of Texas. Click image for larger view.

Native range: Hill Country, Trans-Pecos, Big Bend and Davis Mountains. Map above shows range in the United States. The native range also extends into Mexico.

Height and Pruning: 18 to 48 in. but should be cut back by half in February and by one-third in early August, both to stimulate new growth and subsequent production of flowers.

Sun/Shade requirements: Full sun.

Like most salvias, this one is a superior pollinator plant. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love it.

Soil: Very adaptable as long as drainage is excellent and as long as plants are kept moist at all times.

Flower colors: Scarlet, red, rose, white, pink, lavender, apricot, violet. Two-toned flowers are often seen. A grower friend told me this week that he has seen he would guess 50 cultivars, likely with some overlapping of names.

Continued Below

Propagated: Seed (unless you have a hybrid and want to be sure it “comes true” to color) or cuttings. That same grower said that softwood tip cuttings are very easily rooted.

Neil’s note: I would almost consider this plant as a trade for boxwood in size and growth form. In many places where I have already used a dwarf yaupon holly (more spreading) and boxwood (egg-shaped, more upright-oval), I might consider a small grouping of Salvia greggii for impact if I had the right dark-colored background behind it.

Salvia greggii blooms over the longest possible season of any perennial – late one winter into early the next winter.

Posted by Neil Sperry
Back To Top