The showy flowers of scarlet sage (also called tropical sage) are bright red, nearly an inch long and arranged around the plant's upright flower stalks. A prolific bloomer, it adds intense color to the flower border from spring until knocked down by frost.
Salvia coccinea is perennial only where winter temperatures do not remain below freezing for more than a few hours at a time. In colder climates, it is grown as an annual.
In the space of one growing season this plant will reach 3 feet in height and spread. Its square stems sport 2 inch triangular green leaves. The funnel shaped flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds in abundance making this a good plant to have near an outdoor sitting area. But not too close if you are afraid of bumblebees.
Mature plants will reseed themselves. So, even if it is not winter hardy in your area, you may get seedlings popping up the following season. There is also a pink variety of S. coccinea if you'd like a different color for another area of the garden.
There is another plant which is also called scarlet sage: Salvia splendens. This Brazilian annual sports larger, showier blossoms than S. coccinea that do not drop seed or attract hummingbirds.
Though tropical sage can be seen growing in dry soil from South Carolina to Florida, it prefers a well composted, water retaining soil. Planting in richer soil will result in a larger, more robust plant.
A site in full sun will give the most blooms, but you might want to try to shade the plant's feet as it is only moderately drought tolerant.
Avid gardeners are growing impatiens all over the U.S. There are good reasons for this. Impatiens, sometimes called Busy Lizzys, are colorful, easy to grow, and they are one of the few annuals that will bloom profusely in the shade.