Thursday, May 9, 2013

Favorite Plant in the Garden - Hot Lips!

I am always looking for good plants that attract hummingbirds, right now the star of my yard is Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips'. 

It's a fast-growing plant that gets about 30" tall and will spread pretty wide if you let it. They are easy to prune however and easy to shape. I don't cut them back too much in the fall, but rather wait until late spring to tidy them up.

They develop a woody trunk after a few years and I have had sections of older plants die back over winter, but they keep coming back year after year.

In the early summer heat the flowers are all red, with an occasional white one. But later in the season the flowers will be bicolor red and white and will bloom until frost.

Here they are at the end of May beginning to become bicolor.
The best part is that there are so many flowers to occupy a hummer's time that they fly from flower to flower and I get to watch them for a long time.  My gardening Assistant Yvette does hear them though and will chase them if she sees them.  Silly dog.

I have also had excellent results in Portland with many of the Salvia greggii varieties, like 'Maraschino', 'Icing Sugar', 'Flame', 'Lavender', 'Ultra Violet', and 'Wild Thing'. 

And I highly suggest Salvia clevelandii. It has the most beautifully fragrant foliage and pretty whorls of lavender-blue blooms.  I can smell this plant near my walkway and I have to bend down to smell it EVERY time.


  1. I just bought a Hot Lips a couple of weeks ago! Have you ever grown Salvia patens? I sowed some this spring, and they are doing well. I have one older one that I harvested the seeds from. Such big beautiful blue flowers!

  2. I have not grown that one, but it looks lovely and I'll try to find it. I have something similar - Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' which does nicely. I think I tend towards white, pink and red flowers when selecting flowers for some reason, so I often overlook blue flowers.

  3. Sadly my gifted Salvia clevelandi died a couple of years ago. Where did you find yours (I miss that smell!) and has it successfully over wintered for you?

  4. I have both Salvia clevelandii and Salvia clevelandii 'Alpine' and they have both survived for several years. I think 'Alpine' does a little better however. It gets a few dead spots here and there but looks good otherwise.

  5. Hey just found this by a google search for Hotlips Salvia. Do you know anywhere I can purchase this locally? Thanks! Great blog BTW

  6. @ Lisa - You can find this plant very easily in the sun perennials section at Portland nursery. I might have even seen it at Fred Meyer.