‘Lady in Red’ is a terrific cultivar of Texas Sage, a wildflower whose native range includes the southern United States. This showy beauty is a bit more compact than the species, growing about 12 to18 inches tall with deep green foliage. Blooming from early summer until frost, ‘Lady in Red’ produces dozens of long, airy spikes packed with bright red flowers. Those brilliant flowers make ‘Lady in Red’ a sure hummingbird magnet, whether planted in the garden or in patio containers.
Common name: Lady in Red Texas Sage
Botanical name: Salvia coccinea ‘Lady in Red’
Plant type: Annual or perennial, depending on climate
Zones: All zones as an annual; perennial in Zones 8-10
Height: 12 to 18 inches
Family: Lamiaceae (also known as Labiatae), mint family
Sun: A real heat lover, ‘Lady in Red’ will thrive where more delicate annuals would wilt away. Plant in full sun.
Soil: Will grow in most soils as long as they are well drained.
Moisture: Moderately drought tolerant, but will benefit from water during dry spells.
Mulch: A layer of mulch in the summer will help conserve moisture and keep soil temperatures from rising too much.
Pruning: Snap off faded flower spikes to keep the plant tidy.
Fertiliser: In gardens, either no fertiliser or one light fertilisation in mid-summer. In containers, use a dilute fertiliser solution once or twice per month.
Seeds: If you let ‘Lady in Red’ set seeds, expect to have a bumper crop of seedlings the next year. The seedlings look very much like the cultivar but may be slightly taller and more open.
Pests and diseases
The plant is amazingly free of disease or insect problems.
‘Lady in Red’ was an All America Selections winner in 1992
When grown as a perennial in mild Southern and Western zones, good soil drainage is critical. Soggy soil over winter can kill the plant.
For a stylish combination, grow ‘Lady in Red’ with light pink snapdragons, white petunias, and silver-foliaged dusty miller or licorice plant (Helichrysum).
For a bold look, combine ‘Lady in Red’ with orange cosmos, deep purple petunias, and chartreuse-foliaged ornamental sweet potato vine.
‘Coral Nymph’ – bicolored coral and white flowers, 2 feet tall
‘Forest Fire’ – dramatic red and near-black flowers, 18 to 24 inches tall
‘Snow Nymph’ – white flowers, 2 feet tall
All in the family
Some relatives of the Salvia coccinea ‘Lady in Red’ are the blue (Salvia farinacea) and red salvia (Salvia splendens) typically used in annual flower beds, the hardy perennial salvia (Salvia x sylvestris), and the herb sage (Salvia officinalis) that’s used in cooking.
Plants in the Salvia (sage) genus usually have square stems like members of the mint family, are often aromatic, and sometimes have hairy leaves. Depending on the species, they are hardy in Zones 4 to 10. They have a wide range of colours and forms, and are found in wildflower meadows, borders plantings, or other sunny sites.