Salvia Species, Scarlet Sage, Scarlet Salvia, Red Sage, Red Salvia

Salvia splendens

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Salvia (SAL-vee-uh) (Info)
Species: splendens (SPLEN-denz) (Info)
Synonym:Fenixanthes splendens
Synonym:Jungia splendens
Synonym:Salvia brasiliensis
Synonym:Salvia issanchou
» View all varieties of Salvias
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Tropicals and Tender Perennials


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)


USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



Bloom Color:


Scarlet (dark red)

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual

Suitable for growing in containers


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Chandler, Arizona

Hereford, Arizona

Fallbrook, California(5 reports)

Irvine, California

Mountain View, California

Sacramento, California

Stockton, California

Wethersfield, Connecticut

Brandon, Florida

Clearwater, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Lake Butler, Florida

Pensacola, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Winter Springs, Florida

Evanston, Illinois

Fort Wayne, Indiana

Davenport, Iowa

Junction City, Kansas

Lansing, Kansas

Hebron, Kentucky

Holden, Louisiana

Monroe, Louisiana

Crofton, Maryland

Provincetown, Massachusetts

Saint Cloud, Minnesota

Aurora, Missouri

Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Rodeo, New Mexico

New York City, New York

North Tonawanda, New York

Staten Island, New York

Newport, North Carolina

Swanton, Ohio

Ladys Island, South Carolina

Knoxville, Tennessee

Alice, Texas

Carrollton, Texas

Copperas Cove, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Friendswood, Texas

Grand Prairie, Texas

Katy, Texas

Pasadena, Texas

Port Neches, Texas

Round Rock, Texas

San Antonio, Texas(2 reports)

Kalama, Washington

Port Edwards, Wisconsin

Kinnear, Wyoming

Riverton, Wyoming

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 4, 2021, Theropod from Sydney,
Australia (Zone 10b) wrote:

This one never stops blooming. All day, everyday, summer and winter, autumn, spring. Its flowers last for so long too. Such a strange little plant.


On Sep 21, 2015, Amyspromocrap from Swanton, OH wrote:

I planted three store bought Bonfire this spring. One went in ground with full shade with afternoon sun. This one did best. The one I put in containers with full sun remained very small. The third I put in ground in full sun. This one did ok. It grew tall but wasn't as vibrant as the one in full shade. All three had the same basic soil.

In my experience (Zone 5) the one in full shade did best. Has any one else experienced this?


On Jun 4, 2015, sunkissed from Winter Springs, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This comes in many colors, but I find red does the best in my zone 9b garden. They do seem to prefer a flower pot than right into my sandy FL soil. They also do better when protected from the hot afternoon sun. Leave the flowers on the stalk till they brown and you'll get volunteer seedlings the following year. I like to gather the seeds and plant them around in other areas. If we have a mild winter, they are perennial in my garden. Another nice thing about this plant is you'll find them on the clearance rack at the box stores and Walmart often. Grab them, even if not flowering and find a place for them in the garden.


On Jul 15, 2012, Sandwichkatexan from Copperas Cove, TX wrote:

I love this plant ! Its one of those forget about plants that you plant and forget you have it until it smothers itself in flowers. Has survived mild winters here in zone 8 a but is killed in more severe winters . It likes to self sow all over the place and I am always happy to find new plants after a particularly harsh winter. If all of mine were to be killed off it is easily found at almost every garden center at the beginning of spring. so far for the past several years it has either come back from the roots , Or if its a bad winter comes back from seeds it has sown itself. So I have not needed to purchase it every year . Great plant and gives a lively shot of color to partially shaded areas.


On Apr 3, 2010, flowrjunkie from Playa del Carmen,
Mexico (Zone 11) wrote:

I had two varieties of Red Salvia, but found the hummingbirds to be wildly in love with "Firecracker". My original Firecracker Salvia has been blooming for 4 years. In terms of visual qualities, I am actually so-so about the plant itself. But seeing varieties of hummingbirds actually queued in an overhead flight pattern, waiting their pecking-order turn, is why this plant delights me. It seeds itself quite freely, so I am establishing a few more large plants. I deadhead the old blooms - and don't need to be to fussy about how I go about this, as the plants quite promptly and happily replenish themselves. I water almost daily during our long, dry, sunny summers. When the plants have mostly stopped flowering, usually November or so, I cut them back quite a bit; then they regrow to abou... read more


On Nov 19, 2009, mjsponies from DeLand/Deleon Springs, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This will be my 3rd winter with this Salvia. I've always taken cuttings during the fall and last year I saved a few seeds to make sure I'd have it again in spring just in case we got those rare Florida freezes, as I had not seen it before nor since. It was given to me by a friend who didn't even recall where she got it. I love this Salvia. It's gorgeous, brilliant red flowers that you can see all the way from the other side of the garden. The red continues down the stem. It's done great in a bright morning location with dappled/full sun to high shade during the rest of the day. It might be able to handle more sun, but our hot Florida summers would be tough on it. It's happy with a good drink once a week or so except in the hottest of weather, but for us we are usually getting alot of rai... read more


On Oct 10, 2009, littlebiloxi from Gulfport, MS wrote:

This salvia is a favorite.It is a great plant to put under live oak trees.Always comes back from first frost but not the second, but is perennial for my mom 5 miles south. Mix 11/2 pearlite, 1/2 vermiculite. Put in washed old six packs or other small pots about six inches deep, fill pots with mix, make a hole about the diameter of the cuttings to the bottom of pots. Take cuttings from firm stems.Cut in pieces just under a leaf node so you can have at least two nodes covered by mix, cut the top just above a leaf node.Wet bottom of cuttings and dip in the rooting hormone of your choice, put in pots.Water in ,put pots a few inches off the ground in shade and keep moist. I sit mine on an old flat turned upside down. In about 3 weeks look for top growth and roots.When rooted pot up.Keep new ba... read more


On Sep 19, 2009, bohnnco from Houston, TX wrote:

This has been a tricky saliva for me. The listening here says full sun. I would disagree in zone 9 - it does not like Houston's full sun. At the same time, it can get leggy without enough sun. And it is thirsty until established. The wine colored blooms are beautiful and unique. I would consider it more of a "woodland" salvia.

I cut mine back late fall after the ruby throated hummingbird have come through and let it fill back out in spring. It looks pretty sad all winter otherwise. Root hardy in zone 9 so far.


On Aug 11, 2008, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Salvia splendens grows as a self-seeding annual in my Zone 8b/9a garden. It returns from year to year. I've tried it in several spots in my yard, but the one it favors best is shaded most of the day with about 2 hours of fairly direct afternoon sun. It grows amongst my elephant ears collection. Though I wish it had selected some other spot, I am leaving it where it decided it wants to grow.



On May 26, 2007, Marilynbeth from Hebron, KY wrote:

Love growing these 'shorter' Salvias, along with the 'Lady in Red' Salvia to attract the Hummers that visit.

An annual in zone 6.


On Jan 24, 2007, FloridaG8or from Lake Butler, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have the "fire-cracker" variety, and man am I pleased with it. I planted it into my butterfly garden and it attracted more humming birds than butterflies (although the butterflys liked it also). I am fully aware that North Florida doesn't have much cold weather, but my two red salvias are still blooming from last march, they made it fine through the winter. If you want to have winged friends in your yard, I recomend this plant!


On Sep 21, 2005, gardener8649 from Fort Wayne, IN wrote:

My husband had grown red salvia for years to add color around his house. When I married him last year, I found a flat of "tall" red salvia and planted it behind the small plants. It grew tremendously, especially when I deadheaded the mature blooms and the side shoots came out. It gave a good show from the street because it was tall and brilliant red. I did not have good luck with white salvia. It did not grow well and dried up in the hot weather.


On Aug 20, 2004, penpen from North Tonawanda, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have grown Bonfire here in western NY and it has been a prolific bloomer all summer even this year which has been very cloudy and rainy all summer and it really adds a bright burst of color to the garden. Usually my hummers ignore the annual salvias but they have made frequent visits to these plants this year. It is an annual here but seeds are very easy to collect for subsequent sowing.


On May 8, 2004, Hornbeam from Chincoteague Island, VA wrote:

Cut off faded flower spikes to encourage more bloom


On Aug 30, 2003, FastFredi from RR 5 Clinton, ON (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have been growing the 'Red Hot Sally' variety for approximately 10 years now and saving seed from them for the next year. I recently came across 2 more varieties of Salvia splendens called 'Scarlet Bicolour' and 'Hotline Red'. The hummingbirds just love these plants so I make sure to start them on a staggered seeding schedule so that I have some blooming at all times until finaly a hard frost finishes them off.


On Aug 2, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

A beautiful plant. It seems every yard in suburban Atlanta, Georgia, has this plant, and I'm glad to find that it will grow further South in zone 8b, Northcentral Florida, as we are usually wetter than Atlanta. But my son, who lives in an Atlanta suburb, tells me they have had 70 inches of rain by August this year--the usual is about 55 for the whole year--so slugs and snails are definately a problem. I've found a good remedy for them is to save and crush up egg shells and sprinkle the shells around plants these annoying pests love, as they don't like to travel over the shells, as the shells cut up their underbellies.


On Aug 2, 2003, dstartz from Deep South Texas, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is one of the most satisfying plants I have had the pleasure to grow! It seems to thrive on heat and neglect and blooms PROFUSELY almost year round, especially when given ample fertilizer.

It's only pest for me has been a severe infestation of snails during a rather extended rainy spell.

It has grown for me as a tender perennial in zones 8b-9b. It has also come back strong from short periods of drought.


On Oct 18, 2002, jkom51 from Oakland, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I'm growing the 'Firecracker' red variety in Northern California (U.S.) Although drought-resistant, they do not flower well without regular water. Mulching helps as well. I have not had trouble with slugs or snails, nor with aphids.


On Aug 7, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

There are at least 10 varieties of this sage. The height range also varies from 8 inches to 3 ft tall. It needs good, well-drained soil.