Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 533 Salvia splendens

Common Names: scarlet sage Family: Lamiaceae (mint Family)
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The 'Sparkler Series' of Salvia splendens features flowers in vivid shades of red, white, purple and salmon.


"Annual" salvia is a tender tropical perennial that is typically grown as a warm weather annual bedding plant. It has long been a garden standard, reliably blooming over an extended period. Ever more varieties are being developed, giving a wide range of colors, including white, salmon and purple, as well as the traditional bright red, and heights from about 8 in (20 cm) to nearly 3 ft (0.9 m). Leaves are bright to dark green, elliptical and toothed. Flowers grow on spikes and are two-lipped, with a flat lower lip and helmet-shaped upper lip.

a bed of salvias
This huge mass planting of 'Sparkler Series' paints a carpet of color that will endure summertime heat and humidity (even in Orlando, Florida as seen here!)


Salvia splendens is native to Brazil. It is now widely cultivated as a summer or warm-weather annual.


Plant in average or enriched soil and fertilize as needed. Over a long season, flowers will drop, leaving a ragged spike. When this happens, cut the plant back. New growth emerges refreshed. Snails and slugs find salvia to be a delicious treat, especially in moist conditions and when the plants are mulched. Light: In cooler climates, plant in full sun. In areas with very hot summers, partial shade, especially in the afternoon, reduces stress. Moisture: Average to slightly dry, well drained soil. Larger varieties with deeper roots need less water than dwarf varieties. Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 - 10. Summer annual. Might survive light freezes. Propagation: Seed. May be planted directly into finely textured, warm soil, or started in seed trays for setting out after danger of frost.
scarlet sage
Scarlet sage is able to withstand urban conditions and still look attractive.


Annual salvia is a good vertical accent in a container. A medium to tall variety can be surrounded by other annuals. Envision a burgundy salvia surrounded by blue and lavender shades of impatiens (Impatiens wallerana), with a little white alyssum (Lobularia maritima) or nierembergia (Nierembergia spp.). Or for hot color, a bright red with marigolds (Tagetes spp.)! In a bed, salvias are great massed. Because of the uniformity of bedding plant varieties, they can also be used very successfully in a border.


Salvias are prolific and durable bloomers. They are not bothered by pests. Unfortunately, the selected varieties of this species are not as attractive to hummingbirds or butterflies as are most Salvia species, such as wild scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea) for example.

Jack Scheper 07/02/99, 11/27/99, 12/6/99, 05/20/03, 9/11/03

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Salvia species profiled on Floridata:

Salvia 'Indigo Spires'

( Indigo Spires sage, Indigo Spires salvia )

Salvia coccinea

( scarlet sage, Texas sage, salvia )

Salvia elegans

( pineapple sage, pineapple scented sage )

Salvia farinacea

( mealycup sage, blue sage )

Salvia greggii

( autumn sage )

Salvia guaranitica

( blue anise sage, Brazilian sage, anise sage )

Salvia leucantha

( Mexican bush sage, Mexican sage, velvet sage )

Salvia lyrata

( lyreleaf sage, cancerweed )

Salvia madrensis

( forsythia sage )

Salvia mexicana

( Mexican sage )

Salvia nemorosa

( wood sage, hybrid sage )

Salvia officinalis

( garden sage, common sage )

Salvia splendens

( scarlet sage )

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