Favorite Fall Flowering Plant: Autumn Sage

Autumn sage produces tube-shaped flowers that last from fall to spring. The colorful blooms are irresistible to butterflies and hummingbirds.

Red Autumn SageNoelle Johnson

Living in the Desert Southwest, I am always grateful when September comes around and the summer heat begins to abate. It is at this time that I begin to watch for my favorite fall blooms to appear.

One of my favorite plants fall-blooming plants is autumn sage (Salvia greggii, zones 7 to 9).  

Autumn SageNoelle Johnson

First, they produce tubular-shaped flowers that appear in fall and last through winter and on into spring in my zone 9 garden. In cooler climates, they bloom through the summer months and will cease blooming in winter.

Autumn sage is hardy to 0 degrees F, and can be found in many southern gardens stretching from California through North Carolina and the states farther South. In hot, desert climates, they prefer filtered shade, which is why I like to plant them around light shade trees, like the Palo Verde, above.

Flowering Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii)Noelle Johnson
Flowering autumn sage (Salvia greggii)

Their colorful flowers are irresistible to both butterflies and hummingbirds. I always include autumn sage whenever I design butterfly and/or hummingbird gardens.

Autumn SageNoelle Johnson

This compact shrub is deer and rabbit resistant and looks great when planted along pathways or even in containers. Autumn sage and its hybrids are available in other colors such as white, pink, purple and peach.

I saw a lovely planting in South Carolina with the autumn sage forming a backdrop for flowering pansies. Red-flowering plants look great when paired with yellow flowers, which provide a powerful color contrast.

They aren’t fussy plants, but do require well-draining soil. Prune them back to 1 foot tall after the last frost date in your area and apply slow-release fertilizer at the same time.

Salvia Greggii Cold Hardy Pink Close Up  2 High Country Gardens
Salvia greggii ‘Cold Hardy Pink’

Do you have any favorite fall blooms that you are eagerly anticipating? I can’t wait to see these beautiful blossoms begin to appear in the garden!

Next, check out our picks for the best fall flowers (that aren’t mums).

Noelle Johnson
Noelle Johnson is a horticulturist, writer and certified arborist who lives and gardens in the desert Southwest. She is the CEO and owner of 'AZ Plant Lady,' an education company that aims to help people garden successfully in the desert climate. She is the author of the book, Dry Climate Gardening, and her byline has appeared in publications such as Birds & Blooms and Phoenix Home & Garden magazine. She is an instructor at the Desert Botanical garden and Tucson Botanical Gardens.