Tag Archive for: Salvia chiapensis

Does the idea of attracting hummingbirds to your outdoor space appeal to you?

It’s hard to find anyone who wouldn’t welcome these colorful visitors.

The best way to attract hummingbirds is to have a garden filled with their favorite nectar plants, but what if you don’t have a garden space or any room for additional plants?

What can you do to attract hummingbirds besides hanging out a hummingbird feeder?

Create your own hummingbird container garden!

Imagine a pot filled with one or more plants that are irresistible to hummingbirds. A container takes up little room and enables you to attract hummingbirds to your garden whether your outdoor space is an acre or a small apartment balcony.  

Creating a Hummingbird Container Garden

Hummingbirds always seem to be flitting around my garden and they love to perch up high in my cascalote tree.

I recently set out to create three different hummingbird container gardens in my backyard.

The reason that I decided to do this was that I was asked by the Hummingbird Society to be a speaker at the Sedona Hummingbird Festival this summer. The topic of my presentation will be teaching people how to create their own hummingbird container garden. So, I thought that it would be a fun project to create my own.

Many people rely solely on hummingbird feeders to attract hummers because they don’t have enough garden space. My hope is that I can show them that they can have a mini-hummingbird garden despite their limited space.

I must admit, that I love it when I have to buy plants for a project. So, I headed out to the Desert Botanical Garden’s spring plant sale.  

Creating a Hummingbird Container Garden

I had a wish list of nine plants that I wanted to use and I was thrilled to find them all.

vegetables and flowers

The pots that I decided to use were repurposed.  They used to be located next to my vegetable garden where I would plant a mixture of herbs, vegetables and flowers in them.

The problem was that my 7-month-old puppy, Polly, kept eating the edible plants out of them. So I decided to use them for non-edible plants in hopes that she would leave them alone.

I had bought the pots 3 years ago – they were on sale at Walmart for $5 each. I had painted them using spray paint that was suitable for use on plastic.

For my portable hummingbird garden, I moved the pots to an area that receives filtered shade underneath my ‘Desert Museum’ palo verde tree. I also gave them a new coat of paint to freshen up the colors.

To add height and definition, I raised the orange pot by placing it on some leftover step stones.

attracting hummingbirds

Each container was to have 3 different plants.  I had some fun deciding on the combinations for each pot.

For the orange container, I decided to plant a succulent mini lady’s slipper(Pedilanthus macrocarpus), Mexican fire (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii) and Waverly sage(Salvia ‘Waverly’).

I confess that I have never grown any of these plants in this container before, which makes this project even more fun.

While I have grown the regular-sized lady’s slipper,  I didn’t know there was a mini variety until I saw it at the sale and I knew that I just had to have it – it would be a perfect size for a container. (One thing that I love about the Desert Botanical Garden’s plant sales is that you can often find unusual or rare types of plants).

Mexican fire will bloom spring through fall, producing red flowers. I don’t have any experience growing this shrub at all, so this project will be a learning experience.

The salvia, ‘Waverley’ sage, has white and lavender flowers, which are beautiful. Like most salvias, it will do best in filtered shade in the desert.

Polly is checking out what we were doing

Polly is checking out what we were doing.

My son, Kai, was excited to help out with the project. He decided that the orange pot would be his so he wanted to add the plants himself.

Blue Bells(Eremophila hygrophana), Mexican honeysuckle(Justicia spicigera) and red autumn sage(Salvia greggii).

Next up was my purple pot.  In it went Blue Bells(Eremophila hygrophana), Mexican honeysuckle(Justicia spicigera) and red autumn sage(Salvia greggii).

Blue Bells is a relatively new plant on the scene and this Australian native flowers all year long and has evergreen foliage.  I have used it a lot in recent designs but this is the first one in my own garden.

Autumn sage has always been a favorite of mine – especially in areas with filtered shade where their red flowers will decorate the landscape fall through spring.

Mexican honeysuckle had been my go-to choice for shady areas where its bright green leaves and orange flowers look great all year.  After 17 years as a horticulturist, there is finally one in my landscape.  

Sierra Star(Calliandra 'Sierra Star'), garnet sage(Salvia chiapensis) and purple trailing lantana(Lantana montevidensis)

The blue pot contains a newer plant variety, an unknown and an old favorite.

Sierra Star(Calliandra ‘Sierra Star’), garnet sage(Salvia chiapensis) and purple trailing lantana(Lantana montevidensis) made up the last trio.

Sierra Star is a hybrid with two famous parents – pink fairy duster(Calliandra eriophylla) and Baja fairy duster(Calliandra californica). It blooms throughout the year, producing reddish-pink flowers.  I have used in several new designs and am so excited to have it in my garden.

Garnet sage is another salvia that I am looking forward to learning more about. It has lovely magenta flowers and attractive foliage.

Some people may be surprised to learn that purple trailing lantana attracts hummingbirds, but you’ll find it on most hummingbird plant lists and I’ve seen them feed from lantana before.  

attracting hummingbirds

As with all container plantings, I used a high-quality planting mix.

As I stepped back to admire my work,

attracting hummingbirds

Unfortunately, someone else decided to come and admire my hard work too.

attracting hummingbirds

I admit that I haven’t had much trouble with dogs eating my plants until Polly and her sister Penny came along.

attracting hummingbirds

My hope is that after she gets used to them, the newness will wear off and she will learn to ignore them.

Until then, we put up a temporary barrier.

attracting hummingbirds

Thankfully, the barrier won’t keep the hummingbirds away. In my experience, it takes a few days for them to notice new plants (and hummingbird feeders).

I’ll keep you updated as to how my hummingbird container does and will take photos along the way that I can use in my upcoming presentation.

Do you ever get tired of seeing the same plants showing up in landscapes time after time?  

It doesn’t matter whether you live in the desert or in more temperate climates – there are always 5 – 10 varieties of plants that are used over and over.

Even though these plants may be attractive, the fact that they are seen everywhere makes the landscapes they are in somewhat unremarkable and therefore ‘forgettable’.

As a horticulturist, I am always on the lookout for different plants to use in landscapes.  Last week, I visited the Desert Botanical Garden’s Plant Sale, which is a great place to go to see the newest plant introductions along with lesser-known plants that grow in our desert climate.

In an earlier post, I shared about new plant colors available for well-known plants.  Today, I thought that I would share with you some lesser-known plants that you may want to try out in your garden.

Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii)

I love the name of this small, flowering shrub – ‘Lipstick’.  While the flowers closely resemble those of Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii), they are from a different plant (Salvia microphylla ‘Lipstick’).

Both plants are closely related and their requirements are the same.  So you would use the same way as you would Autumn Sage.  Hardy to zone 8 – 11, ‘Lipstick’ does best with afternoon or filtered shade in desert gardens.  I like to plant them around the base of Palo Verde trees.  Flowers will appear fall, winter and spring.

New Plants

This is ground cover with large Australian-shaped plant tags is a new introduction that is very exciting.

Called ‘Outback Sunrise Emu’ (Eremophila glabra mingenew gold ‘Outback Sunrise’) is a great addition to the desert garden palette.  

New Plants

My first opportunity to see this plant was during a visit to the master-planned community of Verrado, where it is planted throughout the medians.

New Plant Introductions

In spring, yellow flowers appear covering this evergreen ground cover.  A single plant grows 1 foot high and 6 – 10 feet wide.

‘Outback Sunrise Emu’ thrives in full sun or filtered shade, is hardy to zone 8 – 11 and is drought-tolerant.  It may be a little hard to find in nurseries right now, but it is well worth the effort.  

New Plant Introductions

For those of us who love agaves, then I have a new one for you to try.  Agave ‘Blue Glow’ is a hybrid of two different agaves (A. attenuata and A. ocahui).

Like its name suggests, the leaves seem to ‘glow’. My mother has one that she purchased years ago at the Huntington Botanical Gardens in Pasadena, CA.  It moved with her from California to Arizona where it does very well.

‘Blue Glow’ is a smaller agave that grows 1 – 2 feet high and 2 – 3 feet wide.  It does require filtered or afternoon shade in desert gardens.  

New Plant Introductions

This gray shrub was definitely the most unique plant that I encountered at the plant sale.

Pearl Bluebush (Maireana sedifolia) is another great import from Australia.  The leaves are succulent and I couldn’t help but keep touching them.

This drought-tolerant shrub thrives in full sun, is hardy to zone 9 – 11 and will grow 3 – 5 feet tall and wide.

I would plant it near dark-green ground covers where the gray color will provide great contrast.  

Blue Bells (Eremophila hygrophana)

Blue Bells (Eremophila hygrophana) is rapidly on its way to becoming one of my top 5 shrubs.

It closely resembles the gray-colored sages of (Leucophyllum).  While they do share many similar characteristics – blue/purple flowers, drought-tolerance and the ability to thrive in full, desert sun – there are some differences.

Blue Bells are hardy to zone 8 – 11 and stay rather compact at 3 ft. tall and wide and rarely need pruning.  In addition, it flowers all year long.

I recently included these shrubs in a re-design of a church landscape and am very happy with how they look.

Chiapis Sage (Salvia chiapensis)

I am always attracted to salvias of all kinds, so I found myself paying particular attention to all of the different species available.

The dark pink flowers of Chiapis Sage (Salvia chiapensis) caught my eye and I was sorely tempted to buy one.

This salvia grows to 2 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide.  Hardy to zone 8, the flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Chiapis Sage does best in filtered shade and fertile soil.  Because I don’t have any room in my areas with filtered shade, I didn’t buy this salvia.

Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica)

I was intrigued by this shrub, which is a relative of Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica), which I do like to use in landscapes.

This is Red Powder Puff (Calliandra haematocephala).

new plant introductions

I had not heard of this shrub before, so I was immediately curious.  It looks like the flowers resemble those of its cousins Baja & Pink Fairy Duster.  But, its leaves are much larger.

Hardy to zones 8 – 11, it will grow large – 4 – 10 feet tall and wide.  Filtered shade would probably be best if growing this shrub in a desert garden.


I hope you have enjoyed some of these new plants that are definitely worth a second look.

Next time, I’ll share with a few helpful tips when shopping for plants along with the 3 plants that I bought from the plant sale.