Salvia madrensis
Salvia madrensis.

November 19th, 2010
Salvia madrensis

I notice Salvia madrensis (Forsythia sage) for the first time last fall when some Austin garden bloggers make a field trip to the San Antonio Botanical garden. I was surprised to see a yellow salvia. I fell in love on the spot. It was blooming in dappled shade so I thought maybe I could grow it. When Renee (Renee’s Roots) heard I wanted one, she shared a plant from her garden.

I plant it in a new bed by the driveway with another acquisition from that trip, an Italian stone pine from Dan Hosage’s Madrone Nursery.

Salvia madrensis
2009-11-19. Plant the passalong from Renee.

I protect it during freezes and it survives even Austin’s big freeze in January 2010. After that, however, I get careless and forget to cover it in a later milder freeze. It responds by freezing to the ground. I fear I’ve lost it. During the spring that bed was a mass of Nigella damascena from Lancashire Rose. When the Nigella dies down and I clear it out, I’m happy to see three salvia plants coming up from the roots.

Salvia madrensis
2010-07-12. Three plant sprout from the roots.

Salvia madrensis struggled a bit in our very dry August 2010. Every day its large leaves wilt. I was relieved it was getting only morning light. I baby it with water more than most plants that month.

Now that it’s blooming, I know that it was worth the little extra effort.

Salvia madrensis
2010-11-17. Almost a year later, looking fantastic and producing new sprouts.

Salvia madrensis is said to grow in part to full shade. Just this week, the tree it was growing under was cut back severely resulting in much more sunlight in this spot. In order to help it survive next summer, I’m going to transplant the offsets in another part of the garden. It’s great to find a flower that I like that is happy in shade.

Salvia madrensis


Dateline: 2011-02-20.
I was afraid I’d lost the Salvia madrensis because (despite being covered) all the fresh new growth that had sprouted after I’d cut down the fading flower stems froze to the ground. Today, scores of little sprouts are coming back from the roots.

Dateline: 2017-07-17
They freeze back in a hard winter and die back in the heat of summer, but they have come back reliably every spring and fall.