Eyelash Sage Plant Care: Tips On Growing Eyelash Sage Plants

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By: Amy Grant

Looking for an easy care bloomer that attracts hummingbirds? Look no further than eyelash leaved sage. What is an eyelash sage? Read on to find out about growing eyelash sage plants and care.

What is an Eyelash Sage?

The genus Salvia is comprised of more than 700 species amongst which are eyelash sage plants. They belong to the Lamiaceae or mint family and are notoriously pest resistant and highly attractive to hummingbirds.

A Mexican native, eyelash leaved sage (Salvia blepharophylla) is also aptly named ‘Diablo,’ which means devil in Spanish and is in reference to the bright yellow stamens that stand up out of the crimson flowers like horns. The ‘eyelash’ part of its common name is a nod to the small, eyelash–like hairs that rim the edges of its leaves.

Growing Eyelash Sage

Eyelash sage can be grown in USDA zones 7-9 in sun to partial sun. Plants reach a height of about a foot tall (30 cm.) and 2 feet across (61 cm.). This perennial boasts long-lasting brilliant red blooms.

It has a compact, rounded habit and spreads slowly via underground stolons. It blooms from early summer to late fall. It does send some suckers out but is not invasive. It is drought and frost tolerant.

Eyelash Sage Plant Care

Because this perennial is so resilient, eyelash sage plant needs very little care. It is, in fact, very suited to hot, humid areas. Because it requires little care once established, eyelash sage is an excellent choice for the novice gardener.

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What Is An Eyelash Sage - Learn About Eyelash Leaved Sage In The Garden - garden

New - Second edition just released January 8, 2001 with 204 Sages described

Description of Placard Books

The Salvia Placard Book, along with the two Herb Placard Books, are data bases of information on new and neglected herbs and perennials with ornamental, medicinal, and herbal value. Set up in the form of a small table, entries can be copied at a smaller scale, trimmed to size, and laminated to make signage. Most people buy them as a horticultural reference, though.

Intended for use by nurseries, botanic gardens, herbalists, garden writers, and salvia enthusiasts, they are currently available as hard copy, printed on 20 pound paper bound by an office 3-hole binder, and in electronic form as MS Word and Corel WordPerfect documents. Demand and resources prior to this web page have called for very limited press runs.

NEW!! I am now offering the second edition of the Salvia placard Handbook, with a total of 204 Salvias described. A number of the older items have been corrected, and more information on provenance has been added.

Future development: If there is sufficient demand, future runs of the placard books will be permanently bound, along with a price reduction. Increased demand also will increase the possibility of inclusion of color images. The two Herb Placard Books will be merged (without Salvia entries) and updated with new and expanded entries if there is sufficient interest. Please send me e-mail on your opinion.

Books and disks are sent on 30 day approval either returned merchandise or payment is expected at that time.

The copyrights on the placards will allow you to make personal use copies only. It is my intent that the contents can be used as research material for other publications (but see below about data bases).

It is also my intent to allow the Xeroxing and laminating of individual placards for the labeling and identification of plants in the nursery, but not the sale of the individual placards as they exist in this publication. I will allow the use of the data as part of the creation of other placards, as long as they are reformatted and the content has been reworded without altering the content significantly.

Since it is my intent to use this and further data to construct Salvia data bases, I expect that any use of this material will not compromise my interests. I reserve the right to not sell digital copies to other parties who want to use the information in data bases without a mutual understanding and agreement.

Questions about my claims and advice on the use of this publication and the individual placards can be obtained by calling me at 336-674-3105, e-mailing me at [email protected], or writing to me at 313 Spur Road, Greensboro, North Carolina 27406 USA

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Salvia List - Sage List

This Salvia list is comprised of all of the salvia species and varieties that I have found in California nurseries. I have planted most of them in a garden somewhere to see how they grow and have rarely been disappointed. I am sure there are more varieties out there that I will continue to find and add to this Salvia List.

Salvia plants are great butterfly and hummingbird attractors. A wide variety of butterflies are likely to stop in for a sip of nectar if they are in the neighborhood including the California Dogface, Cloudless Sulfur, Fiery Skipper, Mournful Duskywing, Sara Orangetip, and Pipevine Swallowtail.

The Genus Salvia is represented with a wide range of plants both from the new world and the old. There are plants from the tropics as well as from more temperate regions. Some will make it where it is down right cold. While others are damaged or even killed with a light frost. With this wealth of diversity of source material there is an amazing array of species and hybrids to choose from. And many are available at a number of nurseries. Given the right species they can be put to almost any purpose found for an herb or shrub.

I use sages as bedding plants with species such as Salvia spectabilis and Salvia farinaceae 'victoria'.

California's native sages include Salvia apiana, Salvia carduacea, Salvia clevelandii, Salvia columbariae, Salvia dorrii, Salvia leucophylla, Salvia mellifera, Salvia munzii, Salvia spathacea. These sages provide much of the naturally occurring food for attracting hummingbirds during the Winter and Spring months. There are a diverse group of selected varieties and named hybrids included in our Sage List

The edible herbs are Salvia elegans and Salvia vulgare and their various cultivars. In my opinion a garden should be full of foods and fragrance.

A number of sages are quite drought tolerant, some even drought requiring. If you are trying to keep your water consumption under control the following would be a good choice Salvia columbariae, Salvia dorrii, Salvia blepharophylla, Salvia canariensis, Salvia carduaceae, Salvia clevelandii, Salvia greggii cultivars, Salvia lanceolata, Salvia leucantha, Salvia leucophylla, Salvia mellifera, Salvia microphylla, Salvia semiatrata and Salvia spathacea.

Taking the opposite extreme, when you just need to include a sage everywhere, there is the bog sage, Salvia uliginosa, and Salvia lyrata can take a soggy situation as well.

Fragrance is a very important factor in the garden for me. A list of particularly pungent sages might be a good way to conclude. Salvia apiana, Salvia clevelandii, Salvia dorisiana, Salvia elegans, Salvia mellifera, and Salvia melissodora are all good fragrant choices.

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Patience is a virtue, as I’ve been reminded too many times. Whether that’s true or not, I waited over 20 years to evaluate tender salvias, which are hardy in warm regions but not reliable in my Zone 5 winters. My craving for all types of salvias is never-ending—I’ve grown the hardy perennials and the colorful annuals—but I covet the beguiling tender salvias most of all. Over the past three years, a dazzling salvia-filled bed delighted us at the Chicago Botanic Garden from the warm days of early summer to the first frosts of autumn. Perhaps the long wait made it all the sweeter, because it was truly a colorful, eye-opening, and lively trial. Months of rainbow-hued flowers, habits great and small, and leaves in diverse colors and shapes—each with its own distinctive scent—are hallmarks of the tender salvias. Our goal was simple: to discover the best tender salvias that are vigorous enough their first year in the garden to make excellent annuals in cooler zones. From early summer to late fall, we enjoyed seemingly endless days of colorful flowery splendor, and we only scratched the surface of the hundreds of lush and exotic selections available by mail order and in garden centers. Rather than settling for off-the-shelf annuals next summer, look for a few choice tender salvias to turn up the seasonal color and drama.

Top performers to try

I first saw Mexican bush salvia (S. leucantha) in San Francisco, where its fuzzy purple-white flowers were an unexpected sight in late autumn. Naturally, I wanted it in the trial but thought the late bloom would be a problem for us instead, its downfall was that its tall, brittle stems snapped in strong winds. While the contrast in flower and calyx colors (sidebar p. 41) is not as striking as the species, ‘Santa Barbara’ Mexican bush salvia (S. leucantha ‘Santa Barbara’) is a superior compact selection with light purple flowers and fuzzy, dark purple calyces. Flower production was exceptionally heavy from early fall to frost. The narrow, downy, gray-green leaves were attractive all season, which is an important ornamental feature given the late bloom period. The habit was diminutive by comparison to the species—nearly 20 inches shorter and narrower—and, more importantly, the stems were not as fragile.

Arctic Blaze® Fuchsia salvia (S. ‘Novasalfuc’) was one of three strong-blooming selections in a series featuring exceptional habit uniformity. Deep reddish pink flowers with purplish calyces were plentiful from early summer to season’s end. All kinds of pollinators were regular visitors on these selections, but bees were particularly busy in midfall. All of the Arctic Blaze® salvias had compact bushy habits with purplish stems, but Arctic Blaze® Fuchsia was the smallest, sporting the best and tightest habit. Unlike some salvias, Arctic Blaze® salvias have square, flexible stems, so breakage was not a problem in our windy site.

‘Amistad’ salvia (S. ‘Amistad’), known commonly as the friendship salvia, was the touchstone for comparing tender salvias. From early summer to hard frost, a bounty of purple blossoms nestled in nearly black calyces graced robust stems it was one of the biggest salvias in the trial. The prodigious floral show and vigorous habit were impressive each summer despite never being fertilized. The large, swarthy flowers were a constant draw for hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and other beneficial pollinators. If time was short when giving a tour, I made a beeline to ‘Amistad’ salvia, since it so perfectly embodied the best qualities of the tender salvias.

The sweetly scented, sumptuous yellow leaves of ‘Golden Delicious’ pineapple salvia (S. elegans ‘Golden Delicious’) would be gratifying on their own for most gardeners. But upon seeing its fiery red flowers arching over the radiant foliage, you would understand that something was missing. Unfortunately for gardeners in the far north, ‘Golden Delicious’ begins blooming
almost too late except in mild autumns with a late frost. If you are lucky and the weather holds, the full glory of the sultry, dark red flowers blazing above the golden foliage is awe-inspiring. The leaves can scald in strong sunlight, so some afternoon shade is best, especially in warmer regions. ‘Golden Delicious’ won’t disappoint, whether in a mixed container, massed, or on its own.

With its pungent, fine-textured grassy foliage and strong shrubby habit, West Texas grass salvia (S. reptans) carried
the show for most of the summer. Long before one flower ever appeared, plants reached a bushy 39 inches tall and wide. The cobalt blue flowers began opening in midsummer and were an exquisitely cool blue that attracted much attention from visitors despite the flowers’ small size. West Texas grass salvia is the only salvia that proved to be truly cold-hardy in Chicago. This was one of my favorites every summer due to its delicate leaves and tidy habit, but the late blue flowers were my true weakness.

Mystic Spires Blue salvia (S. ‘Balsalmisp’) was not originally planned for the trial, but my friend Janice urged me to add it. I’m so glad I took her advice. Tall spires of purple-blue flowers with violet calyces adorned compact, well-branched plants from late spring to frost. Mystic Spires Blue and ‘Indigo Spires’ (S. ‘Indigo Spires’)—look-alikes of a sort—were planted side by side, so comparing them was easy. In midfall when pollinators were largely ignoring ‘Indigo Spires’, Mystic Spires Blue was aflutter with butterflies and humming with bees. The prolific floral stems made up about half of its modest height. Had it been on its own, the heftier ‘Indigo Spires’ may have garnered all my attention, but along with the pollinators, I liked Mystic Spires Blue better.

Autumn salvia (S. greggii) was well represented in the trial by 27 selections with flowers in lovely shades of red, pink, violet, purple, and creamy white. Mirage™ Cherry Red autumn salvia (S. greggii ‘Balmircher’) was one of the very best performers and my personal favorite. The dark, cherry red flowers were beautiful and bountiful from early summer to frost. It also had a dense, compact habit, whereas many other selections had comparable but looser habits. While autumn salvias didn’t overwinter for us, seedlings sprouted each spring in our trial beds. They were not abundant, however.


Red velvet salvia (S. confertiflora) was hands-down my favorite in the trial. It possesses a bodacious quality that was accentuated greatly by its vibrantly colored flowers. Lush corrugated leaves, dark red stems, and a vase-shape form gave it a handsome summer character. In dramatic fashion, bright red-orange flowers clasped in fuzzy, dark, red-orange calyces made their first appearance in early fall. The small flowers were crowded together on slender velvety red wands that jutted above the dark green foliage. Like all late bloomers, red velvet salvia has an eye-popping floral display that was at the whim of the capricious autumnal weather. Our best show was two fabulous months of flowering in 2017 before a killing frost hit on November 22. But no matter how long or short the bloom, I heartily recommend red velvet salvia to any and all adventurous gardeners.

Bolivian salvia (S. oxyphora) is just one of many exotic salvias in the trial that come from Central and South America. I was captivated by the architecture of the large green terminal flower buds before it bloomed but was not prepared for the hot pink spectacle that followed. Beginning in midsummer, über-fuzzy bright pink flowers popped out, blooming steadily to frost. I never lost my fascination for the flower structure and bloom pattern of this salvia. Glossy green leaves with a wrinkly texture were a handsome foil for the whimsical flowers. Bolivian salvia had a strong bushy habit, although the stems were a little brittle and occasionally damaged by wind. I can’t say I ever noticed a hummingbird on Bolivian salvia, but it always had so many human visitors that I would’ve had trouble seeing one.

Of all the salvias, I think Andean silver salvia (S. discolor) had the most charismatic flowers. Its deep purple-black blossoms peeking shyly out of pendulous silvery chartreuse calyces were both exquisite and curiously subtle at the same time. The downy calyx looked either more silver or more green depending on the quality of ambient light. The stems and undersides of the green leaves were bright white and sticky, with a sweet bubblegum scent. Its habit was bushy to loose and irregular, which was expected because it’s actually a scandent, or weakly climbing perennial. I would grow this in a container that’s perfectly placed for up-close viewing.

At nearly 60 inches, ‘Limelight’ Mexican bush salvia (S. mexicana ‘Limelight’) was one of the tallest plants in the trial and will likely be larger in warmer places. Its glossy, heart-shape leaves and imposing vase-shape habit provided bold-texture and lushness all summer. Generous spikes of long, dark, purple-blue flowers offset by bright chartreuse calyces were the crowning touch. While borne in profusion, the flowers didn’t open for us until midfall, which matters a great deal if a frost comes early. In a warm autumn when frost was delayed, the flower show was phenomenal.

The fuzzy, bright, silvery white leaves of Canary Island salvia (S. canariensis var. candidissima) looked more like Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa, Zones 8–10) or lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina, Zones 4–8) than any of its neighboring salvias. Clusters of light lavender flowers held in purple calyces topped the argent plants from midsummer to frost. The densely bushy habit suffered at times from the heavy flowers weighing down the stems, looking fountainesque at best and open bowl-like at worst. Canary Island salvia’s woolly character suggests its affinity to sunny, dry gardens. Try it with other heat-lovers in a container where water can be controlled.

The large, dark, orange-red flowers and fuzzy black-purple calyces of ‘Painted Lady’ eyelash salvia (S. blepharophylla ‘Painted Lady’) were beyond sexy. The exotically colorful blooms were profuse from early summer to frost, but they stalled a bit during the hottest periods, indicating that some afternoon shade is ideal. Eyelash salvia’s name comes from the tiny hairs that line the margins of the glossy leaves. ‘Painted Lady’ boasts reliable dark purple stems and purple-tinged leaves that varied in intensity throughout the summer. Our plants had neat mounded habits and never exhibited the rhizomatous nature ‘Painted Lady’ has in places where it is a perennial. The flamboyant flowers and glossy foliage make an uncommon and thoroughly satisfying combination.

Tender salvias at a glance

Salvias are generally undemanding, easy-care plants. However, they do have a series of unique traits that make them particularly noteworthy.

Conditions: They grow best in moist, well-drained soils, although some—such as pineapple salvia, Canary Island salvia, and West Texas grass salvia—are drought resistant. Partial to high shade is recommended in hot climates for autumn salvias, eyelash-leaved salvias, and Bolivian salvia, among others.

▸ Pollinators: Hummingbirds flitting around the salvias caused quite a stir with visitors and photographers alike. Near collisions were a daily and often comical happening. Although our observations were anecdotal, what looked to be the hummingbirds’ slight preference for blue and purple flowers was intriguing. Bees and butterflies were more catholic in their tastes, exuberantly sampling all colors, including blue (pictured).

▸ Diseases/Pests: Although the salvias were trouble free, they can be affected by powdery mildew, rust, stem rot, fungal leaf spots, whiteflies, aphids, and spider mites. Most salvias are resistant to deer and rabbits because of their scented foliage.

▸ Deadheading: Removing spent blossoms promotes longer flowering and is often recommended, but we observed continuous bloom all summer even without pruning or fertilizing.

▸ Native range/Hardiness: Many of the tender salvias come from south of the U.S.-Mexico border, so winter hardiness was not expected in cooler zones. The only salvias with one or more plants surviving our Chicago winter were ‘La Trinidad Pink’ (S. microphylla ‘La Trinidad Pink’, pictured), cedar salvia (S. roemeriana), and West Texas grass salvia.

▸ Frost: The salvias reacted differently to mild frost—some quickly turned black, while others wilted or dropped leaves yet continued to flower until a killing frost.

▸ Flowering: Starts in early summer and ends with frost. Salvias’ floral displays pack more punch than those of their perennial and annual siblings because the two-lipped flowers are cupped in colorful, sometimes prominent calyces. The calyx (pictured) can be an analogous or a contrasting color to the flower, and it usually remains vibrant and persistent after the flowers have fallen away.

▸ Propagation: This is done by taking tip cuttings and rooting (pictured) or by seeding.

Richard Hawke is plant evaluation manager at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois.

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What Is An Eyelash Sage - Learn About Eyelash Leaved Sage In The Garden - garden

Links to Other World of Salvia Pages:

One of three forms collected by Yucca-Do Nursery, this compact variety has red flowers with the two anthers protruding from the upper hood bearing yellow pollen. The flowers appear to have a couple of devilish yellow horns. All forms of this species make good container and bedding plants, with long summer bloom periods.

There are other forms worth growing, such as Painted Ladies, Dulces Nombres (when you can find it), and an old, unnamed form.

©2000 by Richard F. Dufresne

This sage from South Africa is one of the most showy from that continent. It develops many heads loaded with lavender and white flowers having yellowish markings in the throat. This plant will be happiest in a Mediterranean climate. It can do well in more humid climates, as long as it is in well-drained soil and has good air drainage as well. It will probably need to be thinned out above the crown during rainy season.

It makes a nice greenhouse plant for the winter. Watch out for mealy bugs during wet weather, as the dense foliage provides them with many hideouts. The foliage is pleasantly aromatic.

My plant came from Companion Plants, who have had a good selection of African species.

©2000 by Richard F. Dufresne

This is a relative of autumn sage (Salvia greggii) from the hills in the Chihuahuan desert. It likes to scurry around the ground, running like a strawberry, in search of moist, fertile soil. When it hits a rich pocket, it roots quickly to form a tuft of horizontal and vertical growth. the latter bearing loose spikes of sky blue flowers. In the brilliant desert sun, the foliage is whitish, giving the mound the supposed appearance of a snow drift. At the Norfolk Botanic Garden in 1998, the bed of this plant looked like a gigantic silver thyme. It makes a fascinating hanging basket plant, with many stems running straight down as much as six feet in one year.

Other related species from section Flocculosae worth growing are: S. lycioides, S. coahuilensis, and S. chamaedryoides

©2000 by Richard F. Dufresne

Salvia divinorum
Oaxacan Medicinal Sage
(Ska Maria Pastora, Pipiltzintzintli)

This plant is popularly used as an entheogen, and is always in demand. My interest in it is as an ornamental. It has been successfully bloomed in Washington state and Orlando, Florida. My friends told me that it was quite spectacular in full bloom, having white tubular flowers coming out of prismatically pure sky blue to bluish violet calyxes and stems. Anyone who is familiar with the shade of blue associated with the Blessed Virgin’s robes on statues will see the connection with one of its native names. Its cousins S. recurva and S. cyanea are similarly colored, but with blue and deep indigo flowers respectively.

The secret to getting this one to bloom is to avoid light on the plant after dark. It isn’t as sensitive as poinsettia. The right amount of heat and nutrients (moderate in both cases) also affects the bloom. As far as I know, a greenhouse will be needed to see it bloom. Grow lights won’t work.

In summer, it will go into hibernation and needs shade and moderate moisture, since the natives of Oaxaca grow it near water at high elevations.

©2000 by Richard F. Dufresne

Also called incorrectly in the trade as S. bulleyana, it has deep yellow flowers with a dark purple lower lip. The plant grows like a typical Chinese sage from a taproot and a basal rosette. Its foliage is a nice rich green and the plant is fairly tidy in habit. Some work needs to be done to determine what kind of a climate it will thrive in. I have trouble keeping it for more than two years in North Carolina, and Panayoti Kelaidis reports similar results at the Denver Botanic Garden. I suspect the climate from Washington to California will suit it best.

I have recently received news that a cross with S. glutinosa is being marketed. Since the other parent makes a persistent garden specimen, this new hybrid will probably be worth looking into.

©2000 by Richard F. Dufresne

This selection from Yucca-Do has orange-red flowers and an upright habit. It has a moderately open structure and flourishes in Mediterranean climates. As with many greggii selections, it is useful as an annual. Currently, it is one of a group of sages being offered with other plants as temperennials by Sunny Border Nurseries, Inc. in the northeastern United States.

Watch the video: How To Grow Sage Indoors. Urban Cultivator

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