Salvia Sage for Hummingbirds: What You Should Know

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Your garden will benefit from planting salvia sage to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. And it’s perfect because of its tubular flowers that are ideal for a hummingbird’s long tongue.

There are many annuals and perennial salvias to pick from, but finding the perfect salvia plant for your guest hummers has to be in line with your preferences. Natives are best because they’re rich in nectar, but cultivars work too. 

Sure, you can put as many hummingbird feeders as you want in your garden, but why not go a step further and give salvia sage a chance.

Salvias are part of the mint family and come in various shapes and colors. Many of them are red, which is why hummers are attracted to these beauties. 

Picking the best salvia for your hummingbird garden can be tricky, so we are here to give you a helping hand. 

General rules to follow when planting salvia sage

These conditions apply to most salvias, so keep them in mind if you’re considering planting them:

  • Make sure to keep your salvia in full sun (partial shade works too, but not too much)
  • The flowers typically bloom in late spring or early summer, which may last until fall.
  • Make sure that your salvia stays in moist soil that drains well.
  • You can plant salvias in hanging baskets (and later transfer them to larger baskets)
  • It’s good practice to deadhead the flowers come summer to keep them under control and help them maintain their appearance.

Best salvias for hummingbirds

Salvia guaranitica (black and blue salvia, hummingbird sage, or Anise-scented sage)

This salvia starts blooming in spring until the fall and can survive in a cool climate. 

The flowers are a deep purple color that enchants hummers and butterflies. It is a Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay native.

Soil should be well-drained and moist.

Black and blue salvia should be kept in full sun or part shade. 

Growing zones 8–10

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Pineapple Sage, Salvia Elegans

Salvia elegans (pineapple sage)

The vivid red flowers of this beauty are eye-candy for hummers. But the feature that truly stands out is their beautiful yellowish-green leaves.

This salvia blooms from the middle of the summer until fall.

The good part is that you and your hummers can benefit from the taste of this salvia because it’s completely edible.

Growing zones 8–10, or as an annual

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Cleveland Sage, Salvia Clevelandii

Salvia clevelandii

Salvia clevelandii is a Southern California native plant with blue flowers that bloom in late spring. An evergreen that strives in well-drained soil and full sun. It’s resistant to excessive dryness, so don’t worry about watering it too little.

There are more variations of this type of salvia, like:


  • ‘Winnifred Gilman’ – the most well-known cultivar, with violet-blue flowers.
  • ‘Betsy Clebsch’

Hybrids: ‘Allen Chickering,’ ‘Aromas,’ ‘Pozo Blue,’ ‘Santa Cruz Dark,’ and ‘Whirly Blue’

Growing zones 8-10

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Autumn Sage / Peach Sage, Salvia Greggii

Salvia greggii (Autumn sage)

This is a Texas native with beautiful red flowers that bloom from May until October. Just make sure to trim it during the spring. You don’t have to overwater this salvia (but make sure to keep an eye on them during a dry spell)

Growing zones 8–10

Popular cultivars include “Furman’s Red”, “Big Pink”,” Purple Paster”, “Cherry Chief”, “Desert Pastel”, “Alba” and “Peach”

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Mexican Bush Sage, Salvia Leucantha

Salvia leucantha (Mexican bush sage)

The beautiful purple and white flowers appear in late summer and last until fall.

It is frequently grown as an ornamental plant.

Soils should be well-drained and moist, and the plant should be in full sun.

It can strive in arid climates and grows up to 6 feet.

Growing zones 8–10

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Purple Sage, Salvia Leucophylla

Salvia leucophylla (San Luis purple sage, purple sage, or gray sage)

This California native sage has light gray leaves and purple flowers that grow on soil that is gravel-like and dry.

Growing zones 7-10

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Baby Sage. Salvia Microphylla

Salvia microphylla (Hot Lips, Baby sage)

This pink or red salvia blooms in the middle of the summer (and it blooms again in fall). This salvia is native to Mexico and Arizona. Its leaves are fragrant and smell similar to mint or blackcurrant.

Colors can vary: magenta, pink, red, and rose.

Growing zones 8–10

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Forsythia Sage, Salvia Madrensis

Salvia madrensis (Forsythia sage)

Salvia madrensis is a perennial with big leaves and bright yellow flowers that bloom mid-fall or late summer. It loves full sun (and maybe some shade)

Tall Mexican native.

Growing zones 7-11

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Scarlet Sage, Salvia Coccinea

Salvia Coccinea (lady in red or Scarlet sage)

The beautiful dark green leaves and scarlet red flowers bloom from May till late fall (November). It’s a Mexican native that loves well-drained, sandy, moist soil and full sun.

Hummingbirds, butterflies, and goldfinches appreciate them.

Growing zone 8-10

Salvia regla (Royal sage, mountain sage)

Another Texas native blooms during the early summer and then again during the fall.

Growing zones 8–10

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Pitcher Sage, Salvia Spathacea

Salvia spathacea (Pitcher Sage)

Salvia spathacea is a California native that blooms in late winter and spring – and again during autumn. Sports beautiful rosy flower spikes.

Growing zones 8-11


While hummingbird feeders are essential if you want to attract these pollinators, it’s not enough to ensure that you’ve adequately prepared a hummingbird garden. To make the most of the opportunity to meet these feathered friends, you should understand what garden plants you can keep around.

So the next time you see a hummingbird whizzing past your yard, be sure not to have just a feeder but also a beautiful salvia plant that they can enjoy.

Tara Summerville

Tara Summerville is a freelance writer that loves her backyard birdfeeders. She enjoys sitting on her deck with a cup of coffee, watching cardinals, blue jays, finches, and chickadees munch away at her backyard offerings. Her fascination with birds began as a child; spending afternoons at her grandma's house watching and identifying birds. She has since carried her love of songbirds into adulthood and ensures no bird in her yard goes hungry!

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