- Author: Susan Croissant
Last year we visited DJ's Growing Place in Napa, a family-owned nursery started in 1992 in memory of their son, Dustin James. http://www.djsgrowingplace.com/index.html. Pleasant, unpretentious, best appreciated in person. Maureen Clarke, our good friend and a fellow MG, showed us around and helped us choose from many natives. Grown on-site, the plants are acclimated to the local climate.
As the year passed, we watched one plant in particular grow and thrive. Salvia mexicana 'Limelight' (Mexican sage). Upright spikes began forming in August. In September we started watching on a daily basis as they "evolved." What fun. Intense dark purple blossoms protruding from showy lime-green calyxes. Very striking. The blooming spikes can be a foot long. As they grow heavy with flowers, they weep. We just love this plant. Vibrant color as Summer wanes and Fall emerges is exciting and comforting. It's now mid-November, and blooms are still hanging on. Mine is by the fence, where its roots are shaded and it's somewhat protected from the wind. I'd love one in the middle of the backyard where it can spread out as it pleases. 6' x 6' (some say 6' x 3' or 8' x 4'). Evergreen, herbaceous perennial, central Mexico. Full sun. Prefers moderate water during growing season. Stems will become more fragile with "ample" water and fertilizer. Protect from hard freezes, root hardy to 20°F. Prune heavily late Spring, more branches form if pruned hard in Winter, prune moderately throughout Summer if you prefer "good form."
Salvia mexicana x hispanica 'Byron Flynt' (Black Tip Mexican Sage). S. hispanica (Chia) was cultivated by the Aztec Empire, Chia seeds being a main component of their diet. In the photo, it is the potted plant at lower right and reflects the size of our 'Limelight' before we planted it. This year, it goes in the ground, and I expect it will be 5-7' x 4-5' by late Summer. 'Byron Flynt' bloomed a month after the 'Limelight.' It is the strongest growing and longest blooming of the Mexican sages. Loves sun (although some say its blooms are more profuse in semi-shade). Attracts butterflies. Always abuzz with bees and hummingbirds. Gopher and deer tolerant. Exceptionally drought tolerant but better with regular water until established. Roots hardy to 28°F. Online, some claim this "cross" was made by Sonoma County resident Dan Lozano and named after his grandpa, others sell the seeds and say this is a "rare" plant.
I completed this blog thinking my in-ground and potted plants were the same species because I found a plant tag in the pot. Lo and behold, and glad tidings, I have TWO Salvia mexicana species. Duh. All I know is, we love these plants. And I ran outside before the rains came to preserve their tiny seeds (yes, they look like black or white Chia seeds).