Big Red Sage

Salvia Penstemonides

Salvia penstemonides, commonly known as big red sage, is a great Central Texas native plant that gets its species name from the fact that it looks a lot like a penstemon.

It has a large, mounding habit that isn’t common among the salvias, with larger, glossy, deep green leaves as well.

Big red sage produces towering, deep pinkish-red flower stalks, from late spring though summer. Said to be deer resistant, Salvia penstemenoides is hardy to zone 6, making it a perennial in Central Texas gardens.

As they do with most plants with similar spiky floral displays, hummingbirds flock to this plant when in flower.

Full sun is best, with perhaps a little protection from the harsh rays of the late afternoon.

And be very careful not to overwater big red sage, especially if you have clay in your soil, or it could rot. Consider amending the soil with a bit of porous material such as decomposed granite, but don’t overdo it; big red sage doesn’t like to completely dry out, either.

Adding a little organic matter, such as compost, would help keep the soil porous and moist at the same time: an ideal balance for this striking plant.

Big red sage gets about two feet tall and half as wide in most gardens and as with other perennials, will need to be sheared back in late winter to reinvigorate them and encourage new growth.

Viewer pictures this week show off gorgeous early spring blooming trees. From April Rose:  sweetly flowering roughleaf dogwood. From Joe Wagner: fragrant mountain laurel. From Heather Jefts: a bee and Red Admiral butterfly on her lovely Mexican plum.

AND from Stephen Heineke:  indoor beauty with long-blooming Christmas cactus.