Scientific name: Salvia pachyphylla
Plant Family: Lamiaceae (Mint)
Common names: Blue sage, mountain desert sage, Mojave sage, rose sage
By Susan Bruneni
The Santa Fe Botanical Garden’s May plant sale is the perfect opportunity to find out what grows best in our locale. Plants in the sale have been selected by local experts to represent the very best choices for Santa Fe gardens.
Featured at this year’s sale will be the showy Salvia pachyphylla (blue or Mojave sage). This California native thrives in the southwest (in elevations between 5,000 to 10,000 feet) and is a Santa Fe gardener’s dream. It requires little water, little maintenance, loves our soil, is heat and cold hardy and produces showy bluish/purple flowers all summer long. It is a long-lived perennial, producing silver-gray foliage on square stems, and is a recommended plant for xeriscaping. It is also recommended for soil-erosion prevention on slopes and for restoration planting.
Mojave sage is sometimes called the giant-flower sage because its blooms are larger than most other sages. It will thrive in full sun but tolerates some shade. The mature plant is two-three feet tall and three feet wide. The common names Mojave sage, rose sage, and blue sage are used for a variety of sage species, so make certain to verify the scientific name.
Bees, hummingbirds and butterflies also appreciate the showy blooms. Hummingbirds will concentrate their defense tactics on Mojave sages in their territory, forsaking other plants if necessary.
More than 900 species of salvias are found world-wide. The name “salvia” is derived from the Latin verb “to save, redeem or heal.” In his book Hortulus, 9th-Century herbalist Walafrid Strabo wrote of common sage (Salvia officinalis), “Amongst my herbs, sage holds the place of honour; of good scent it is and full of virtue for many ills.” The 12th-Century Macer’s Herbal says of sage, “Why should a man die of sickness when he can have sage in his garden?”
Native Americans used Salvia pachyphylla to treat stomach ailments and headaches. The use of burning sage was a critical element in Native American ceremonies to cleanse and purify a person or place, considered essential to force out negative thoughts and influences.
Other plants featured in the sale will be: Harvard’s Century Plant, Fern bush or Desert sweet, Ma Huang or Bluestem joint fir, Chocolate flower, Mesa Verde ice plant, Sundancer daisy, and Violet Cloud skullcap, plus a variety of trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses. Experts will be on hand to provide planting information and advice on plant combinations, presentation and placement.
Visit the Plant Sale page for complete information.