Hummingbird Sage Salvia spathacea

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
pitcher sage


Salvia spathacea, commonly known as hummingbird sage, is a perennial plant that boasts a striking appearance with its vibrant green, textured leaves, and richly colored flowers. The leaves are broad and somewhat wrinkled, with a velvety texture that makes them quite distinctive to the touch. They exude a pleasing, aromatic scent when crushed or rubbed, adding a sensory experience to the visual beauty of the plant. The real show-stopper of the hummingbird sage is its flowers. They present themselves in inflorescences that rise above the foliage on tall stalks. The blooms are typically a deep magenta or purple hue, tubular in shape, which draws in hummingbirds, the plant's primary pollinator, giving the plant its common name. These flowers are arranged in whorls, creating an eye-catching display against the rich green backdrop of the leaves. The overall impression of the hummingbird sage is one of a lush, almost jungle-like quality, with the colors and textures interplaying to create a pleasing aesthetic that can be a highlight in any garden or natural setting where it is found.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Hummingbird Sage, Pitcher Sage.

    • Common names

      Audibertia spathacea, Ramona spathacea, Salvia spathacea var. spathacea, Salvia spathacea subsp. spathacea.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Salvia spathacea, commonly known as Hummingbird Sage, is not typically considered toxic to humans. There are no well-documented reports of poisoning from this plant. However, as with any plant, individual allergies or sensitivities can occur. If symptoms of an allergic reaction occur after handling the plant or ingesting it, one should seek medical attention.

    • To pets

      Hummingbird Sage is not widely recognized as a toxic plant to pets either. It does not appear on most lists of poisonous plants for animals such as dogs and cats. However, ingestion of any plant material can potentially cause mild stomach upset in some pets. If a pet exhibits unusual symptoms after ingesting the plant, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      2-3 feet (0.6-0.9 meters)

    • Spread

      2 feet (0.6 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Attracts Pollinators - Salvia spathacea, commonly known as hummingbird sage, is valued for its attractiveness to pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and especially hummingbirds.
    • Drought Tolerance - Native to California, hummingbird sage is well-adapted to dry conditions, making it a practical choice for water-wise gardens.
    • Aromatic Foliage - The leaves of hummingbird sage are fragrant and can add a pleasant aroma to the garden or when used in sachets or potpourris.
    • Low Maintenance - As a native plant, it requires less care once established, which can save time and resources for gardeners.
    • Erosion Control - With its spreading habit and robust root system, hummingbird sage can help stabilize soil and prevent erosion on slopes.
    • Ornamental Appeal - With its colorful flowers and attractive foliage, hummingbird sage adds aesthetic value to landscapes and gardens.
    • Natural Habitat Support - Hummingbird sage provides food and habitat for local wildlife, supporting biodiversity in its native range.
    • Edibility - The leaves and flowers of hummingbird sage are edible and can be used in small quantities to flavor dishes.
    • Cultural Significance - Indigenous peoples have traditionally used Salvia spathacea in various cultural practices, adding historical value to the plant.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Antibacterial: Salvia spathacea has been found to possess antibacterial properties, which means it could potentially help fight bacterial infections.
    • Antioxidant: This plant may have antioxidant effects, which aid in protecting the body from oxidative stress and related diseases.
    • Anti-inflammatory: Salvia spathacea may offer anti-inflammatory benefits, which could help reduce inflammation in the body and mitigate related conditions.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Salvia spathacea, commonly known as hummingbird sage, can be used as a natural insect repellant due to its aromatic properties which some insects find unpleasant.
    • The crushed leaves of hummingbird sage can be used as a fragrance in potpourris, offering a fresh, herbaceous scent to a room or a drawer.
    • The nectar-rich flowers of hummingbird sage are excellent for attracting and feeding bees, which makes it beneficial for gardeners aiming to promote pollination.
    • The plant can be utilized in landscaping as ground cover due to its spreading habit, helping with soil erosion control in sloped areas.
    • Hummingbird sage can be used in culinary preparations; its leaves have been added to dishes for a unique herbal flavor, though this is not common.
    • The bright flowers of the hummingbird sage can be used as a natural dye for fabrics, imparting a soft yellow or greenish tint, depending on the mordant used.
    • Due to its attractive leaves and flowers, hummingbird sage can be used in cut flower arrangements or as a garnish for plating in high-end culinary presentation.
    • The dense foliage of hummingbird sage provides shelter and nesting opportunities for small wildlife and beneficial insects in the garden.
    • During rituals or ceremonies, the aromatic leaves of hummingbird sage might be burnt as a traditional smudge for cleansing or purifying a space.
    • Hummingbird sage can be planted as part of a sensory garden, where its textured leaves and aromatic scent provide a tactile and olfactory experience.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    Hummingbird Sage is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    Hummingbird Sage is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Healing: Salvia spathacea, commonly known as Hummingbird Sage, is part of the Salvia genus, which is often associated with healing properties. It's believed to have medicinal qualities in various cultures.
    • Protection: In many traditions, sage plants are thought to offer protection against evil and negativity. Hummingbird Sage may also carry this symbolic meaning.
    • Wisdom: The name Salvia is derived from the Latin 'salvere' meaning "to save" or "to heal," which often corresponds to the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.
    • Longevity: Many sage plants are revered for their longevity and their ability to survive in tough conditions, thus symbolizing the human desire for a long and healthy life.
    • Purification: Sage often symbolizes cleansing and purity. Hummingbird Sage may be used in rituals or ceremonies to cleanse a space or person of negative energies.
    • Spiritual Awakening: The connection of sage to spirituality is strong. Hummingbird Sage can be seen as a symbol for spiritual growth and enlightenment.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring to early summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Hummingbird sage should be watered deeply but infrequently, aiming for a deep watering every two weeks during the dry season. In the winter, reduce watering as the plant prefers drier conditions and can rely on natural rainfall. When watering, use about 1 to 1.5 gallons for mature plants, ensuring moisture reaches deep root zones. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so let the soil dry out between waterings. The exact amount of water may vary based on soil type and environmental conditions, but always aim for soil that is moist but not waterlogged.

  • sunLight

    Hummingbird sage thrives in partial shade, especially enjoying the dappled light under oak canopies or similar environments. It can tolerate morning sun but should be protected from the intense afternoon sun. For optimal growth, plant it where it can get ample light filtered through higher foliage, avoiding deep, dense shade.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Hummingbird sage does well in a temperature range that does not typically drop below 20°F or rise above 100°F. The ideal temperature conditions for the plant are between 60°F and 85°F. It is native to California and can handle cooler nights, but consistent temperatures below 20°F may damage the plant.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune hummingbird sage to encourage bushiness and to remove spent flower stalks, which can enhance the next season's blooms. It's best to prune in late winter or early spring, just before new growth begins. Cut back no more than one-third of the plant to keep it healthy and well-shaped. Pruning too often or too drastically can harm the plant's vigor.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Hummingbird Sage prefers well-draining soil with a mix of loam, sand, and compost to promote healthy growth. The ideal pH range for Hummingbird Sage is slightly acidic to neutral, between 6.0 and 7.5.

  • plantRepotting

    Hummingbird Sage should be repotted every 2 to 3 years to ensure it has sufficient space to grow and to refresh the soil nutrients.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Hummingbird Sage thrives in moderate humidity levels but is relatively tolerant of various humidity conditions as long as it is not too dry.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place in bright, indirect light and ensure good air circulation.

    • Outdoor

      Choose a sunny spot with some afternoon shade and well-draining soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      8-11 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Salvia spathacea, commonly known as Hummingbird sage, germinates from seed in moist, well-drained soil in partial to full shade environments. The seedling stage is characterized by the development of a small rosette of basal leaves. As it matures into the vegetative stage, it develops a larger rosette and elongated, serrated leaves with a distinctive aroma. The plant then enters the flowering stage, typically in early spring, producing tall inflorescences with tubular magenta flowers that attract pollinators, particularly hummingbirds. After pollination, seeds are developed and dispersed, marking the reproductive stage of the plant. The plant may enter a period of dormancy during dry or cold seasons, with above-ground growth dying back and the plant surviving via its underground rhizomes until favorable conditions return.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring to early summer

    • Propogation: Hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea) is best propagated by division, a method that can be employed in the fall or early spring when the plant is not in active bloom. This involves gently separating the root clumps of an established plant. Carefully dig up the clumps ensuring that each new section has a piece of the root system and some foliage. These separated clumps can be immediately replanted into a well-draining soil mix, ensuring that the soil is kept moist until new growth indicates that the division has been successful. Water the new divisions with about half a gallon (roughly 1.9 liters) of water to help settle the soil and eliminate air pockets.