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.

5 Responses

  1. I didn’t know that you had this! I just got my 1st bloom here in Pittsburgh today. Last year I did pineapple sage but it didn’t bloom until it was too cold to enjoy.

  2. First bloom already, your summer is off to a faster start than ours in western Oregon. Pineapple sage seems to respond to shorter day length as an inducement to flowering but once it gets going it doesn’t stop. I have a photo of it in full bloom and covered with snow from here at the nursery.

  3. I lived in Portland, OR for a year and I must say the gardens were pretty incredible, but it was a different climate, warmer and a bit north of where I am now which means that it probably starts blooming earlier there so you do get to enjoy their blooms a bit longer.

    Also, I wanted the pineapple sage for the hummingbirds but the only ones here are ruby throated, with a rare rufous, not the diverse population out west and the rubies seem to have left when it started blooming for me. I am pretty certain though that last year I saw one rufous. It was right in my face for a second and just vanished.

  4. Your S. guarantitica will attract a lot of hummingbirds even though it is blue rather than red. Here in Western Oregon, the Anna’s Hummingbird used to be more migratory but now with slightly warmer winters many of them stay through the winter. It’s speculated that they are deceived by the temperature but actually suffer from a food shortage in winter. We are often cautioned to remove feeders in fall so they are not encouraged to linger. Saw my first hummingbird this week and it is always a happy moment.

  5. My goodness you are so RIGHT! They seem to bypass everything else, even my feeders, for these flowers! It probably helps that mine are high up on my front porch, 6 feet above my yard. Keeps them safe from all the cats too.

    I have a feeling that I will see more hummingbirds than last year.

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