Scientific: Salvia coccinea
Common: tropical sage
Family: Lamiaceae (the mint family)
Origin: Southern Mexico, naturalized in Hawaii
Pronounciation: SAL-vi-a coc-CIN-e-a
Sunset All zones depending on use
USDA All zones depending on use
Landscape Use: For mixed flower borders and gardens, accent, mass color, border background, and container plant.
Form & Character: Delicate to sprawling and rangy, not restrained, tropical to subtropical.
Growth Habit: Tropical sage is a short-lived, evergreen, herbaceous perennial that is mostly treated as a cool season bedding plant in Phoenix. It has a moderate growth rate and can sprawl to 3 feet in height with near equal spread once mature.
Foliage/Texture: Leaves opposite, dark green, pubescent, oval to cordate to 2.5-inches long on slender stems, occasionally pubescent; medium fine texture.
Flowers & Fruits: Flowers are situated on terminal spikes to as much as 12 inches in length, many colors ranging from white to scarlet red including some that are bicolored, to 1 inch in diameter; fruit are an inconspicuous paper capsule that are capable of reseeding in moist urban garden settings.
Seasonal Color: Tropical sage is a free-flowering accent bedding plant throughout the growing season. Most productive during the spring and fall in Phoenix.
Temperature: Freeze intolerant, tropical sage also struggles in the desert heat.
Light: Full sun to partial shade. It's imperative to not place tropical sage in western exposure locations in Phoenix....death by searing!
Soil: As with many other salvias, tropical sage needs a fertile, well-drained soil amended with organic matter for best performance.
Watering: Regular frequent supplemental water is needed to maintain luster and a dense canopy. Even mild soil dryness in Phoenix results in a lose of foliage making tropical sage look sparse.
Pruning: Head back severely in late winter if you intend to grown tropical sage as a border perennial.
Disease and Pests: Nematodes
Additional comments: Tropical sage gives a nice tropical to subtropical landscape effect. There are many varieties with different flower colors.