04 November 2012

Hot Lips Sage is Salvia microphylla Hot Lips

This particular Salvia has been in our garden for four years. It never really took off like the one in the catalog, but it soldiers on, blooming spring, summer and fall - even past our first frosty nights.
 
Said to be cold hardy in zones 8 to 10, Hot Lips does reasonably well in our zone 7 since it is protected by close neighbors - A climbing Euonymus on the east fence behind it and an exuberant Lantana on it's west side. In the heat of the summer the sparse flowers are mostly white.

Like all Salvias, the scent keeps most predators such as deer at a distance.

Salvia microphylla Sage Hot Lips
 
Plant Delights Nursery offers them in their online catalog at www.plantdelights.com. The catalog says it "was introduced by Richard Turner of California after the plant was shared with him by his maid, who brought it from her home in Mexico.
The fast-growing, 30" tall x 6' wide clump is adorned with stunning bicolor flowers with red tips and white lips...attractive to hummingbirds. When the nights warm in summer, the new flowers are all red with an occasional solid white one. As fall approaches, the flowers again will be bicolored red and white."
 
Phagat.com says it was developed at the San Francisco Arboretum. Their take on the story of origin is, "Richard Turner, editor of Pacific Horticulture Magazine, threw a house warming party, for which his Mexican maid Alta-Gracia provided flowers from her personal garden, including a certain salvia from Oaxaca, Mexico, which none of Alta-Gracia's boss's horticultural buddies had ever seen before. Overlooking for the moment the abominable cliche of rich honkies with their Latina servants, we may count it lucky her name is reported at all, even without last name."
Phagat recommends a hard prune in late winter in temperate areas such as Washington state.
 
You can propagate Hot Lips like other woody Salvias, by taking cuttings and layering. I have had luck taking cuttings of Salvia Elegans, Pineapple Sage (http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/salelegans.htm), to make more plants.
 
Layering is so easy though, maybe I'll do that this year.
 
 
 
 

 

No comments: