Salvia guaranitica Anise Scented Sage

Of all the plants in our little herb garden, the lovely and long blooming Salvia guaranitica is the one most favored by hummingbirds. Our home herb garden is primarily culinary herbs. It includes edible flowers and a few herbs attractive to pollinators, butterflies and hummingbirds. I went out in the late afternoon with a book and camera in hand hoping if I sat quietly the hummingbirds would appear. After about ten minutes I heard the little buzzing “chewit” call of the Rufous hummingbird. She made a dive for the blue sage with the large hooked flowers.

Salvia guaranitica with hummingbird by Helen Hilman

This photo is compliments of Helen Hilman who took it at our nursery. My own attempt was about as successful as photographing fairies in the garden.

To grow this sage, select a well drained spot in full to half sun. This plant will grow 4’to 6’tall. When winter temperatures fall below 20 degrees plants often do not make it through the winter. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to simply treat this plant as an annual for all the joy it brings. A light fertilizing during the growing season is all that is needed. Like all my perennial herbs, I stop fertilizing in early August to help the plants harden off for winter. Clip it back close to the ground in late winter for best summer blooms. The foliage is edible but relatively flavorless. Cathy Wilkinson Barash, author of Edible Flowers: From Garden to Palette assures me the flowers are safely edible. Their beauty, moderate water needs and lure for hummingbirds make them a valuable garden plant. When grown in container plants rarely exceed 3′ but will grow and bloom vigorously. They may become potbound after one season and need a larger pot. Divide to start another container or share with a friend.