Thursday, February 24, 2011

Plant Profile- Salvia darcyi

I found an interesting plant last year in Tooele Valley Nursery under the name "Red Mountain Sage." It's scientific name is "Salvia darcyi", and most reports I've seen show the flower as only hardy through to zone 8, though I've seen one report of it making it through a zone 6. Being at zone 5, I'll be interested to see if it comes back. If it doesn't I did atleast gather a good batch of seeds which I now am growing in my basement. This sage is a quick growing plant, that grows tall and is an impressive hummingbird magnet. So even if last year's plants don't make it, I should have an abundance of them this year. (In the picure above, Salvia darcyi is being visited by a female broad-tailed hummingbird)
This salvia is native to the high mountain ridges of the Sierra Madre in Mexico. My experience with many of these southern sages that live in the mountains, is that they are often hardier than we think. I have had success with Salvia lemmonii as well as Salvia pinguifolia here in the cold great basin desert valley of Tooele. The tops completely die off, but from the root crown comes new and rapid growth that sends the plant two feet high and loaded with flowers. Salvia pinguifolia, a beautiful blue flowered salvia is a very popular nectar source for honeybees right up till the frost, providing valuable stores for these bees during their long winter months. Salvia lemmonii provides excellent blooms into the fall, helping south migrating hummingbirds. I'm hoping Salvia darcyi turns out to be much like these other southern sages. My first year experience with this plant was positive. We'll see if it is perennial here in Tooele, or an impressive annual I'll need to grow every year. Time will tell.

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