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What is Autumn Sage Everything you need to know

What is Autumn Sage? Everything you need to know

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Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage)

  • Scientific Name: Salvia greggii A. Gray
  • Common Names: Cherry Sage, Gregg Salvia
  • Family: Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
  • Synonym(s): USDA
  • Symbol: sagr4 USDA
  • Native Status: Native to the contiguous 48 states (L48)

What is Native Status?

Native status refers to the natural or original occurrence and distribution of a species or organism in a specific geographic region. It indicates whether a particular species is indigenous or native to a particular area, meaning it has historically evolved and existed there without human intervention or introduction.

What is Autumn Sage?

Autumn Sage, scientifically known as Salvia greggii, is a perennial shrub that belongs to the Lamiaceae family, also known as the Mint family. This plant is native to regions of central and western Texas in the United States and extends southward into Mexico, particularly to San Luis Potosi.

Autumn Sage, a delightful and softly mounding shrub, typically reaches heights of 2-3 feet. Its small, pleasantly aromatic green leaves remain evergreen in warmer climates. From spring to frost, it produces charming flowers on racemes, showcasing a vivid array of colors ranging from red and pink to purple, orange, or white. This native species thrives in the natural landscapes extending from south-central and west Texas down to San Luis Potosi in Mexico, primarily inhabiting rocky slopes.

Autumn Sage, widely embraced in Southwestern landscaping, serves as a charming addition for ornamental purposes in perennial beds or as a low hedge. Its fragrant foliage invigorates the senses, while its blossoms hold an irresistible allure for hummingbirds. In its natural habitat, these blooms typically don a shade of red, yet the hues can vary significantly from one region to another. Some areas boast red-dominant displays, while others showcase pink, orange, purple, or white, and a myriad of captivating shades in between. Over the years, diligent breeding efforts have expanded this color palette, giving rise to numerous cultivars. This hardy shrub boasts disease and insect resistance, coupled with an impressive drought tolerance. Once established, Autumn Sage thrives without the need for additional fertilization.

Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage)
Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage)

The species name “greggii” pays tribute to Josiah Gregg (1806-1850), a native of Overton County, Tennessee, whose remarkable journeys and contributions left a lasting legacy. In the summer of 1841 and later in the winter of 1841-42, Gregg embarked on extensive travels through Texas, tracing the course of the Red River valley and venturing from Galveston to Austin, then onward to Nacogdoches and Arkansas. Along the way, he meticulously observed Texas’ geology, its diverse flora, prevailing societal attitudes, and the political landscape. Concurrently, Gregg diligently organized his travel notes, eventually crafting them into a compelling manuscript.

Who is Josiah Gregg?

Josiah Gregg (1806-1850) was an American explorer, naturalist, author, and physician who made significant contributions to the understanding of the American Southwest during the 19th century. He is best known for his extensive travels in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico and for his written works, particularly “Commerce of the Prairies.”

Josiah Gregg (1806-1850)
Josiah Gregg (1806-1850)

His seminal work, “Commerce of the Prairies,” published in two volumes in 1844, garnered immediate acclaim. In 1848, Gregg joined a botanical expedition to the western regions of Mexico and California. During this expedition, he maintained correspondence with and dispatched botanical specimens to the esteemed botanist George Engelmann in St. Louis. As a testament to his contributions to botany, the American Botanical Society honored Josiah Gregg by bestowing the Latin name “greggii” upon twenty-three distinct plant species.

What is Commerce of the Prairies?

“Commerce of the Prairies” is a two-volume book written by Josiah Gregg, an American explorer, naturalist, and author. It was first published in 1844 and is considered one of the classic works of American Western exploration literature. The book is a detailed and comprehensive account of Gregg’s travels and observations in the American Southwest and northern Mexico during the 1830s and 1840s.

Tragically, Josiah Gregg’s life met a premature end on February 25, 1850, due to a fatal fall from his horse. His enduring legacy lives on through the enduring recognition of the “greggii” namesake in the world of botanical nomenclature.

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Plant Characteristics

  • Duration: Perennial
  • Habit: Shrub
  • Leaf Retention: Evergreen, Semi-evergreen
  • Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
  • Leaf Complexity: Simple
  • Leaf Shape: Elliptic, Obovate
  • Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous (smooth and hairless)
  • Leaf Margin: Entire (smooth and uninterrupted), Serrulate (finely serrated)
  • Leaf Apex: Obtuse (blunt)
  • Leaf Texture: Smooth
  • Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual, Monoecious (male and female flowers on the same plant)
  • Inflorescence: Raceme (a type of flower cluster)
  • Size Notes: Typically 2-3 ft in height, but can reach up to 5 ft
  • Leaf: Leaf margins may be entire, serrulate, or minutely serrulate (finely toothed).
  • Flower: Flowers are approximately 1 inch long.
  • Fruit: Nutlets.
5 Types of Sage for the South
Flowers are approximately 1 inch long

Bloom Information

  • Bloom Color: White, Red, Pink, Orange, Purple
  • Bloom Time: March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November
  • Bloom Notes: Depending on its origin, this plant exhibits its most profuse flowering either during the spring or in the autumn, with sporadic blooming occurring in the summer and persisting until the first frost. The flower color varies based on its origin and breeding, encompassing shades that span from vibrant reds to warm oranges, delicate pinks, rich purples, and pure whites, presenting a diverse and captivating spectrum.

Distribution

  • USA: Texas (TX)
  • Native Distribution: This plant is native to central and west Texas, extending southward to San Luis Potosi in Mexico.
  • Native Habitat: It thrives in well-drained, rocky slopes and is commonly found in rocky soils in central, southern, and western Texas.
What is Autumn Sage Everything you need to know
This plant is native to central and west Texas, extending southward to San Luis Potosi in Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Water Use: Low
  • Light Requirement: Full Sun
  • Soil Moisture: Dry
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Cold Tolerant: Yes
  • Heat Tolerant: Yes
  • Soil Description: Thrives in well-drained, rocky soils, often containing limestone with varying levels of organic content. It can also adapt to sandy and loamy soils.
  • Conditions Comments:
    • Autumn Sage requires well-drained soil and is not suitable for clay soils that tend to shrink and swell. In clay-heavy soils, it’s recommended to incorporate organic matter and amendments to enhance drainage. If possible, planting on a slope can further improve drainage.
    • While generally cold-tolerant, it may become deciduous in regions experiencing extremely cold winters. Some cultivars, however, can thrive even in colder climates such as Oklahoma and Colorado, well beyond its natural range.
    • Avoid planting Autumn Sage in areas with heavy foot traffic as its stems are quite brittle.
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Growing Conditions
Thrives in well-drained, rocky soils, often containing limestone with varying levels of organic content

Benefits

  • Use Ornamental: Autumn Sage is highly valued for its nearly evergreen nature, vibrant and long-lasting blooms that attract hummingbirds, and its dense growth, making it an excellent choice for creating low hedges in ornamental landscapes.
  • Use Wildlife: The flowers of Autumn Sage are a magnet for bees and hummingbirds, contributing to the ecosystem by providing nectar for these pollinators.
  • Use Food: Similar to many other Salvia species, the leaves of Autumn Sage can be used either fresh or dried for seasoning and in teas. Additionally, the edible flowers can be incorporated into culinary creations.
  • Attracts: Butterflies and Hummingbirds are attracted to Autumn Sage, enhancing the garden’s biodiversity.
  • Deer Resistant: Autumn Sage is highly resistant to deer browsing, making it a suitable choice for landscapes frequented by deer.
What is Autumn Sage Everything you need to know
The flowers of Autumn Sage are a magnet for bees and hummingbirds

Propagation

  • Propagation Material: Autumn Sage can be propagated using the following methods: Seeds, Semi-hardwood Cuttings, Softwood Cuttings.
  • Description: It is relatively easy to propagate Autumn Sage from softwood or semi-hardwood tip cuttings. Using a rooting hormone can help enhance the success of rooting, and rooting typically occurs within three weeks. Additionally, you can propagate it through root layering or by sowing fresh, untreated seeds in the fall or winter.
  • Seed Collection: Collect the seeds as the capsules begin to dry but before they have fully released the seeds.
  • Seed Treatment: To prepare the seeds for storage, spread them in thin layers to dry for a few days before storing them in sealed, refrigerated containers.
  • Maintenance:
    • To encourage nonstop blooming, it’s advisable to trim or pinch the tips of Autumn Sage continuously.
    • In early spring, you may opt to prune it back by one-third to halfway in order to promote denser and more compact foliage, resulting in a shorter flowering plant. Keep in mind that pruning may delay flowering by several weeks, but it helps prevent leggy growth.
    • Alternatively, if you prefer the plant to maintain its natural shape, regardless of height, consider pick-pruning to encourage its full, unaltered form.
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What is Autumn Sage Everything you need to know
Propagation

FAQs

  1. What are the ideal growing conditions for Autumn Sage?
    • Autumn Sage thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. It is drought-tolerant and can adapt to various soil types, including rocky soils with limestone content. It is well-suited for arid and semi-arid climates.
  2. What is the bloom time for Autumn Sage?
    • Autumn Sage typically blooms from late spring to frost, depending on its geographic location and the specific cultivar. It can have extended flowering periods, making it a popular choice for gardens.
  3. How do I propagate Autumn Sage?
    • Autumn Sage can be propagated through various methods, including softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings with the application of rooting hormone. It can also be propagated by root layering or by sowing fresh, untreated seeds in the fall or winter.
  4. What wildlife does Autumn Sage attract?
    • Autumn Sage is known for attracting pollinators, especially hummingbirds and bees, with its vibrant and long-lasting flowers. It contributes to local ecosystems by providing nectar for these pollinators.
  5. Is Autumn Sage deer-resistant?
    • Yes, Autumn Sage is considered to be deer-resistant, making it a suitable choice for landscapes where deer browsing is a concern. Its aromatic foliage and drought tolerance can deter deer from feeding on it.
Author Linh Vu
Linh Vu

“Herbs are the friend of the physician and the pride of cooks.” ~ Charlemagne.