Normally, I wouldn’t give Cedar Sage, Salvia roemeriana, much thought this time of year. A lovely perennial which reaches the zenith of its beauty during spring blooming time, the nice little winter rosettes,
…are fine-n-dandy, but not enough to ‘wow’ about now. But it’s Wildflower Wednesday (thanks to Gail at clay and limestone for hosting) and I’m going to gloat a bit because one of my Cedar Sage plants is in flower-power mode!
Mmmm. Gorgeous, brilliant red, tubular blooms!! Such eye candy in a dappled shade garden! Even more so as there’s almost nothing else abloom at the moment.
Normal flowering for this small, Texas native, pollinator-friendly perennial is spring to early summer, roughly April to June. The literature suggests that it blooms on and off throughout summer, though mine never blooms past June. That it’s blossoming in late January is odd–it hasn’t happened in my garden ever before. In the public gardens where I formerly worked, I once saw a Cedar Sage with flowers in October and I was surprised and pleased at that out-of-season gift.
I’m not complaining about this January wonder–it was a lovely sight last week to see the flowers dancing above the winter rosette, during a rainy few days.
But it’s during late spring that this perennial acting-as-a-ground cover really dazzles.
The scarlet blooms brighten the landscape and provide for a variety of pollinators. I’ve never seen a hummingbird nectaring at the blooms, though Cedar Sage is considered a hummingbird plant. As a member of the salvia species, you can bet it’s deer resistant and it’s a water-wise choice for the shade to dappled-shade garden.
After its typical flowering in spring, the seed heads remain attractive through most of the summer. I don’t prune the stalks back until late summer, or even into autumn–just because I let them seed out and I enjoy the spidery reach of the tawny stalks from the green basal leaves.
Clearly, I didn’t prune this plant back at all.
The Cedar Sage is so-called because it evolved to grow under the shade of Ashe Juniper, Juniperus ashei–commonly called “mountain cedar,” “cedar,” or “damn cedar” (by those highly allergic to its pollen). The foliage of the Ashe Juniper is fine, thus allowing the Cedar Sage seedlings to germinate easily. According the the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center plant data base information, Cedar Sage have trouble germinating under the canopy of large-leafed deciduous trees, owing to the fallen leaves blocking the seeds from soil (and light too, I suppose), thus preventing germination. That hasn’t proven true in my garden though. The plant blooming now is under a non-native Arizona Ash tree, Fraxinus velutina, and the group in my back garden reside under a native Shumard Oak tree, Quercus shumardii. Of course, I do rake up fallen leaves, but my gardens are well-mulched, so I imagine that I don’t get as many seedlings in the garden proper as I would if I didn’t mulch. In fact, many of my Cedar Sage seedlings appear in adjacent pathways. Regardless, there are always a few seedlings each winter from the previous year’s crop of flowers and resulting seeds, and I transplant them to spread their crimson glory.
Cedar Sage is native to a large, but specific area of Texas–from Central to West Texas, in the Edwards Plateau ecoregion; their native range extends southward into northern Mexico.
If you live elsewhere, Cedar Sage might be available as a tender perennial or annual. If you’re in Central to South Texas, it’s a must-have shade plant.
Thanks again to clay and limestone for promoting the beauty and practicality of native plants–click on over and check wildflower plants showcased this January, 2015.