Georgia Gardener Newsletter Cool Plant: October 4, 2007

Forsythia Sage
Salvia madrensis

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Species Native Range: Mexico
Hardiness: USDA Zones 7-11
Mature Size: 8-10 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Soil: Well-drained
Ease of Culture: Easy

When most of us think of sages (salvias), we think small or narrow leaves with flowers of red, blue or purple that range in size from 12 inches to maybe 4 or so feet tall. Forsythia Sage is a somewhat untraditional salvia in that it has large, heart-shaped leaves and tall spikes of bright yellow flowers. Flowering is also unusual in that it doesn't really begin blooming (at least in zones 7-8) until well into October. Often, I still have flowers left to bloom on my plant when the first killing frost brings an end to the season. Unlike other salvias, Forsythia Sage seems to do fairly well in partial shade due in part to its large leaves.

Grow Forsythia Sage at the back of a perennial bed, shrub border or at the edge of a woodland or natural garden in full sun to partial shade and rich, well-drained soil. It mixes well with other late season bloomers such as Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha), Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum), Mums, Asters and ornamental grasses.

Attracts hummingbirds. Deer and rabbit resistant.

Note: Although perennial, Forsythia Sage is best planted in the spring. Besides, with the severe drought and current ban on outdoor watering, it's tough to plant anything at this time.


This plant is somewhat out of the mainstream, so your best options for purchasing it would be through specialty nurseries or via mail order. I cannot remember where I purchased mine, but I believe it may have been at Randy's Perennials in Lawrenceville. I've also seen it offered on Ebay.

Plant Delights Nursery: mail order
Crownsville Nursery: mail order
Canyon Creek Nursery: mail order

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