Monday, May 9, 2011

Mexican sage attracts bees and sunbirds

Mexican sage, also called Mexican bush, velvet sage, or more properly, salvia leucantha, is a lovely perennial bush that produces velvety purple calyx and white or purple flowers in mid-summer. The Mexican sage is native to Mexico and South America, but is now also grown in the US. It does best in temperate zones, where it will remain evergreen throughout the year. In areas with frost or snow, Mexican sage tends to die back to root level, but bursts forth again when the weather turns warmer.
The leaves on a Mexican sage are shaped like lances, and lightly coated with fine hairs. They’re usually pale green in color and combined with the soft white down on the leaves they give off an attractive silver appearance. Leaf length is between one to five inches (2.54-12.7 cm). As summer approaches the Mexican sage produces long stalks on which clusters of purple calyx grow. Calyces (plural of calyx) are not flowers, but are cuplike precursor to small white or purple blooms of the Mexican Sage. The purple calyx and the flowers of the plant make them attractive to both butterflies and hummingbirds.

Credit to wiseGEEK for this text
Salvia leucantha
This salvia is very easy to propogate, either by cuttings or division. It blooms prolifically in autumn and needs to be cut back after blooming. This one is about 1m tall. It is delightful to see the sunbirds enjoying it.