How to Grow and Care for Texas Sage

Inflorescence of a Salvia Coccinea plant

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If you're looking for some dazzling red color and you are in Texas sage's native range, you can’t go wrong. It is easy to grow, easy to care for, and easy on the eyes! A native to the southeastern United States, it's a native plant that works great in a pollinator garden.

Common Name Texas Sage, Scarlet Sage, Blood Sage
Botanical Name Salvia coccinea
Family Name Lamiaceae
Plant Type Herb
Mature Size 3 feet tall, 3 feet wide
Sun Exposure Full sun, part sun, shade
Soil Type Rich, loamy, clay, sandy
Soil pH Adaptable
Bloom Time Summer through fall
Flower Color Red
Hardiness Zones USDA 9-10 (Perennial), to zone 4 as an annual
Native Area Mexico, southeastern United States

Texas Sage Care

The really fantastic thing about Texas sage is the bang for the buck factor. It gives you so much aesthetic appeal and benefits the ecosystem with so little care and effort that it is easy to include in any southern landscape design. Texas sage will supply you with those dashes of reds you need to offset all that yellow and green, and it can even brighten up a shade garden.

Like most herbs, it is simple to grow and can thrive in many conditions, some of them often being less than ideal, and that is great news for you.

Light

Texas sage grows in all light conditions, from full sun to full shade. Its ability to do this makes it an indispensable addition to a garden allowing a landscape designer to add bright splashes of color in any area and even tie separate areas with different light conditions and
a single species of flower, creating a more unified design.

Soil

Unless you have sopping wet soil that requires you to put on your rain boots whenever you
venture to the garden, your soil is pretty much good for growing Texas sage. It will easily grow in sandy, loamy, and clay-rich soils as long as it is well-draining.

Water

Texas sage really is easy to grow. It requires only moderate watering and can withstand long periods of dry weather without suffering too much. If you live in an area that receives regular rain, supplemental watering isn’t necessary once the plant has established itself. Water your plants daily until the shrub is established.

Temperature and Humidity

Texas sage thrives in the warm climates of the coastal southeast. It prefers hot summers and humid to dry conditions and will not tolerate the cold. Texas sage is hardy in USDA zones 9 and 10 and will reseed readily in zones 6 to 8, but is usually grown as an annual in cooler
climates.

Fertilizer

There is no real need to add supplemental fertilizer to Salvia coccinea. It should flower profusely
on its own, but if it does not, first test your soil to see if a phosphorous deficiency is your issue, to begin with, and go from there. If that is the problem, find a fertilizer with a high phosphorus content in the NPK formula and give it a shot.

Types of Texas Sage

Here are a few common cultivars of Texas sage that are available in the nursery trade that may suit your needs a little better than the native variety.

  • Salvia coccinea ‘Snow Nymph’ – a smaller cultivar with 24-inch tall plants
    that produce white blossoms.
  • Salvia coccinea ‘Lady in Red’ – profusely flowering cultivar that often self-sows.
  • Salvia coccinea ‘Coral Nymph’ – a tender cultivar that has
    bicolor flowers of white and deep pink blooms on globular formed plants.
  • Salvia coccinea ‘Summer Jewel Pink’ - cultivar with compact
    growth and early-blooming light pink
  • Salvia coccinea ’Summer Jewel Red’ - cultivar with compact growth and
    early-blooming red flowers.

Pruning

The plant will need to be cut back after its season to allow new spring growth. In areas where it is
annual, you will just remove and replant as needed and wanted. In the lucky zones that it self sows, make sure to shake seeds out from your plant or collect the seeds you want before cutting your Texas sage back, so it comes back for you next year!

Growing Texas Sage from Seed

It is easy to propagate Salvia coccinea from seed, and in many areas, the seed for the plant will be much easier to find than live plants. To start:

  1. Place your seeds in warm moist seed starting mix indoors in bright light six to eight weeks before the last frost.
  2. Move plants outdoors for a week after the threat of final frost.
  3. Transplant outdoors after final frost when plants are about four inches tall.
  4. Divide your plants as necessary.

Texas sage takes a long time to establish—usually about two years. Be sure to give it more attention and additional waterings. It won't bloom until established, so don't be alarmed if your plant doesn't produce any flowers for a few years.

How to Get Texas Sage to Bloom

Your salvia should be bloom profusely without any issue, but if it is lagging a bit, don’t worry. A flowering plant such as Texas sage can benefit from a boost of phosphorus to kick its blooming into high gear. If it is still not producing abundant flowers, it may need extra water or just extra time! It will bloom, be patient.

Common Problems with Texas Sage

Luckily S. coccinea does not suffer from too many problems or pests but can occasionally be hassled by mealybugs and aphids. Also, if you do not provide proper spacing and airflow, your plants may develop powdery mildew. To minimize this risk, be sure to divide plants when it self sows and trim back when it becomes overcrowded.

FAQ
  • What’s the difference between pineapple sage and Texas sage?

    Though they are the same genus, look the same, they are different species. You can tell by the smell. Texas Sage smells like sage, and pineapple sage smells like pineapple.

  • Is Texas sage edible?

    Unlike its tropical-smelling and tropica-tasting doppelganger pineapple sage, Texas sage is not edible.