While visiting hummingbirds may only be the stuff of summer memories at this time of year, it's not too soon to begin thinking of ways to attract these tiny beauties to our gardens when warm weather returns.
A great plant for attracting hummers, as well as for adding a dose of strong color to the garden is red salvia, also called scarlet sage. And one of the best cultivars is the 2011 All-America Selections Bedding Plant Award winner, Salvia coccinea 'Summer Jewel Red,' bred by Takii & Co. This cultivar was chosen for its early and abundant flowering that continues until fall frosts, as well as its dense branching habit and relatively low stature. Plants stay a manageable 20 inches in height.
Each flower spike is packed with half-inch, bright red blossoms that will not only lure hummingbirds into the garden, but will attract butterflies as well. And if you let some of the flowers go to seed at the end of the season, you're likely to have goldfinches stopping by as well.
Red salvia is a tender perennial that is grown as an annual in most parts of the country. 'Summer Jewel Red' will bloom from seed in only about 50 days, two weeks earlier than other varieties. Give it full sun and well-drained soil for best performance.
For more information on 'Red Jewel' salvia, go to: All-America Selections.