Baby Sage

Scientific Name: Salvia microphylla

Fact Box:

  • Order: Lamiales
  • Family: Lamiaceae
  • Genus: Salvia
  • Species: S. microphylla


Despite the name “baby sage,” this shrub can grow to three or four feet tall, with small green leaves. The size of the leaves are referred to in the scientific name, microphylla, meaning “small-leaved” in Greek. Native to North America, this plant displays its flowers in whorls, which in botany means with several blossoms (or leaves) coming from the same spot on the stem but extending out in different directions.

With sweet nectar, baby sage — aka Graham’s sage or blackcurrant sage — is very popular with hummingbirds. The red varieties are especially attractive to them, because hummingbirds can see the bright color, while bees and many other insects find darker hues more appealing. Furthermore, the tiny birds are perfect pollinators for baby sage, since their beaks can extend into the throat of the flower, where the stamens transfer pollen onto the bird’s head.


Salvia microphylla has a large variety of hybrids, with white and cream to pink and crimson colored flowers. Above is the cultivar “Hot Lips,” which showcases bi-colored blossoms, white on top and a contrasting red on the bottom. They bloom through several seasons, from spring into fall. The special thing is, in the colder seasons — spring and fall — the flowers will have two colors, but in the heat of summer, they will often turn completely red.

Baby sage ‘hot lips’ flowers turn completely red in the heat of summer.