Sage Bush Varieties
Most sage bushes belong to the Salvia genus of the mint (Lamiaceae) family.The highly aromatic foliage for many of these plants is a culinary staple. Other salvia bushes are tried-and-true garden performers, prized for their brilliant blooms and drought tolerance, according to the University of California Cooperative Extension. A handful of striking sage bushes are part of the figwort family, native to the Southwestern United States.
A mint family shrub, mounding autumn sage (Salvia greggii) stands 2 to 3 feet high. It has mint-scented green foliage and a March-to-November blooming season. Flowers are most profuse in spring and fall, with lighter flushes of bloom in the summer months, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Autumn sage’s flowers may be red, purple, white, orange or pastel shades. Regardless of hue, they draw hummingbirds to the garden. Native to Texas and Mexico, drought-tolerant autumn sage grows best in full sun and well-drained, rocky, sandy or loamy soil. It will not survive in clay.
Salvia "Raspberry Delight" is a summer-blooming hybrid sage bush hardy to minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit. This 2- to 3-foot-high and wide plant has a July-to-frost bloom of raspberry-red, tubular flowers above deep-green foliage, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Hummingbirds and butterflies find the blooms irresistible. An attractive border plant, Raspberry Delight likes full sun and dry to averagely moist, well-drained soil.
Bright-pink or purple blooms against hairy, silver leaves are trademarks of the Texas sage bush (Leucophyllum frutescens). Growing between 2 and 5 feet high--occasionally to 8 feet--Texas sage is a figwort family shrub native to Texas and Mexico. Its 1-inch, bell-shaped flowers, most common after summer rain, make sporadic appearances from spring to autumn. Texas sage needs well-drained soil and a dry climate. Although the plant is heat-tolerant, hot and humid nights can kill it, cautions the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
American author Zane Gray immortalized this plant in his Western novel, “The Riders of the Purple Sage.” Purple sage (Salvia dorii) is a low-sprawling shrub with downy, silver leaves and dense, spiny branches. Standing 2 to 3 feet high, it grows wild in the dry, open spaces of the Pacific Northwest, California, Utah and Arizona. In May and June, purple sage's narrow flower clusters fill the landscape with a sea of brilliant blue or blue-purple blooms. This sage bush likes full sun and dry soil with maximum drainage, advises the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.