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Products > Salvia spathacea 'Las Pilitas'
Salvia spathacea 'Las Pilitas' - Little Hummingbird Sage

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  
Image of Salvia spathacea 'Las Pilitas'
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Perennial
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae) (Mints)
Origin: California (U.S.A.)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Rose Pink
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 4-5 feet
Exposure: Cool Sun/Light Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 0-10° F
Salvia spathacea 'Las Pilitas' (Little Hummingbird Sage) - A low growing semi-evergreen herbaceous perennial sage with a ground covering mounding habit to 18 inches tall and spreading slowly by underground rhizomes to about 4 feet in time. The plant is slightly sticky to the touch with pleasingly aromatic arrow-shaped light green leaves that can grow to 6 inches long and are wrinkled on top and hairy beneath. The deep rose-pink flowers grow in large pagoda-like whorls on 18-inch-tall flower stalks from late winter into summer - this is a dwarf form of Hummingbird Sage and the flowers do not rise much above the foliage.

Plant in full sun to partial shade and give little to occasional irrigation but tolerates even more regular watering. Evergreen in temperatures in the mid 20's° F but root hardy to at least down to 0 ° F and suitable for USDA Zones 8 to 11. Dead head the inflorescences to their base after flowering is over to keep plant low and tidy and dig unwanted spreading rhizomes for replanting elsewhere in late fall or early winter. This is an extremely tough plant that can go dormant in summer but can be kept evergreen with an occasional irrigation and can remain evergreen in winters in gardens where temperatures remain above the 20's°. It is quite useful in dry shade such as under a coast live oak. The flowers are attractive to hummingbirds, hence the typical common name but it is also commonly called Crimson Pitcher Sage.

Hummingbird Sage is native to shady or open grassy slopes in the lower elevations along the California coastal ranges from Solano County south to Orange County and perhaps north San Diego County. The name Salvia comes from the name used by Pliny for a plant in the genus and comes from the Latin word 'salvere' meaning "to save" in reference to the long-believed healing properties of several sage species. The specific epithet comes from the Latin work 'spatha' (from the Greek spáthe) means a spath and the suffix 'aceous" meaning "composed of" or "having" so meaning "with a spathe" in reference to large spath-like colored bracts that enclose the flower cluster.

This smaller cultivar came from Las Pilitas Nursery in Santa Margarita, CA and is noted as being found growing under and shaded by Chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) on a south-facing slope where there are winter springs and summer heat. They noted that the plant is the lowest hummingbird sage they had ever seen, with a flower spike appearing on a stem amongst the leaves. Image on this page from Las Pilitas Nursery. We grew this plant when it became available in plugs from Takao Nursery in Fresno but unfortunately, they old produced it for one year and we kept no stock back for our own propagation and so only had it for one year, in 2019. 

This information about Salvia spathacea 'Las Pilitas' displayed on this web page is based on research we have conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations we have made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens visited, as well how our crops have performed in containers in the nursery field. Where appropriate, we will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share cultural information that would aid others in growing this plant.