Marin Master Gardeners
University of California
Marin Master Gardeners

Plant Guide

Salvia spathacea

Common Name
Hummingbird Sage
CA Native
California Native
Plant Type
2' x 4' - 5'
Flower Color
Magenta Pink
Bloom Time
  • Spring
Sticky, Arrow-Shaped Green Leaves
Deer Resistant
Rarely Damaged
Wildlife Value
  • Attracts Beneficial Insects
  • Bees
  • Hummingbirds
Growth Rate
Adverse Growth Factors
Special Features
  • Good Under Oaks
  • Low Maintenance
  • Showy Flowers
Water Use
  • Drought Tolerant
  • Low
Soil pH
6.5-7.5 (neutral)
  • Partial Shade
  • Shade
Soil Type
Not Particular
Well Drained
Description and Cultural Plant Tips

This is a good plant for dry, shady gardens. It has a mound-forming structure up to 2' tall and produces spikes of magenta pink flowers that can reach 30 inches tall.  Hummingbird Sage is a natural component of oak woodlands so it can be planted under oaks and only requires minimal summer watering to keep it looking good. This plant sends out long rhizomes so it can spread rapidly under the right conditions. Fragrant leaves can be dried and used in tea.

Tolerates clay and sepentine but needs good drainage so plant slightly above soil grade. In coastal areas it can be planted on north slopes in full sun  Plant in shady locations inland. Looks best with some summer water since it will go semi-dormant with too little water. Cut back in January for more compact growth.

As noted in the common name, this plant is loved by hummingbirds. Bees also appreciate its early blooms.

Plant die-back and root rot occur when watered too much. Hot summer sun can also kill them.

Master Gardener Comments

This is a great plant for under oaks.


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