Mojave sage: a sage for all seasons

Salvia pachyphylla Mojave Sage Plant Select

If you are looking for a plant to add structure and backdrop in your garden, Salvia pachyphylla or Mojave sage may be just the plant for you. Mojave sage stands 24″ or better in the garden with a width of at least the same. It usually takes a couple of growing seasons for it to gain this stature. An outstanding feature of Mojave sage is the beautiful, intensely aromatic silvery-green foliage, topped with densely whorled bracts of lovely smoky mauve-purple that surround delicate violet-blue flowers. This sub-shrub perennial is native to the higher altitude of the California hills and prefers a full sun location, with good drainage being essential.

The semi-evergreen foliage adds wonderful winter interest to any garden. Mojave sage is hardy in Zone 5, but dry conditions are a must for over wintering. Once this salvia is established, a good fall pruning after flowering helps maintain its shape and keeps it from becoming too woody.

Mojave sage blooms all summer, continuing into the fall. It serves as a companion and excellent backdrop for penstemon, coreopsis, creeping veronica, lavender, and other smaller salvias, just to name a few. In your xeric garden, Mojave sage is a standout, guaranteed not to disappoint.

View the plant profile here.

Mojave Sage (Salvia pachyphylla)

Height: 18-24″
Width: 24-30″
Blooms: June to November
Sun: Full Sun
Soil Moisture: Moderate watering to xeric, once established
Hardiness: USDA zones 5-10
Culture: Loam or sandy soil

Thanks to Diana Reavis, Eason Horticultural Resources, for writing this piece.

38 responses to “Mojave sage: a sage for all seasons”

  1. Kathy Kimbrough says:

    I love mojave sage. It pairs nicely with many things but when combined with prairie zinnias, its magical.

  2. John Pilkinton says:

    Do you know of any place in Northern Nevada or California where I can purchase a Mojave Sage a sage for all seasons, I’m just looking for 1 replacement plant. Thx, ‘JP’

  3. Melissa Bell says:

    I have been looking for replacements of Mojave Sage for a couple of years now. The few plant catalogs are always out of stock. I’m baffled at the difficulty of finding some one/place that sells this sage. It’s a wonderful plant!

    • Pat Hayward says:

      I understand your frustration! Mojave sage is pretty difficult to propagate, and it seems that supply is seldom able to keep up with demand. There are many growers in the Denver area who’re supplying it to local garden centers, and I know there’s a wonderful grower in Salt Lake City, too. Any chance you can visit some of those areas? And Waterwise Gardening, LLC (David Salman) has several retail sales in spring and fall – perhaps a road trip would be in order?

    • Paula Mann says:

      I got some at Gulley Greenhouse in Fort Collins May 2023.

  4. Dale Donahue says:

    Mojave sage is one of the best plants to use here in the desert areas of southwest Idaho. It thrives and blooms profusely and rarely needs water and loves sandy, ashy, and poor soils. Sometimes the plants exceed 36″ in height and 48 inches or more in width. It is very similar to our native Salvia dorrii, but is usually a much more robust form of this related plant. Usually will self-seed in the area. Hummingbirds are drawn to the plants.

  5. kenneth patterson says:

    If anyone is looking for this Sage, you can find it at High Country Gardens web order, or H&H Nursery in Lakewood Ca. Also Flowers by the Sea Nursery, they specialize in Salvias.

  6. Robert Ciammaichella says:

    Who is the wonderful grower in Salt Lake are ? I am in that area and am having problems getting it . I found one plant around 5 years ago and have not seen since. Want more for my parkway .

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Did you try Glover Nursery? A little bit further away there is Split Mountain Farm They grow it. Other wise you might have to mail order it through Bluebird Nursery or High Country Gardens. The parkway is one of the perfect locations for Mojave Sage. Enjoy!

    • Chelsea says:

      Perennial favorites grows it – I actually picked mine up at the garden center of Smiths up on 33rd south.

  7. Dan Mathews says:

    Would Mojave sage or purple sage likely be better adapted to lower elevation areas of the Grand Junction, Colorado vicinity. Was told by a nursery owner who sells Mohave that purple sage was not sufficiently winter hardy, but based on its native distribution this seems questionable. What are the distinguishing features, advantages/disadvantages of the two species?

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Both of these salvias should be winter hardy. Differences are in the size- purple sage is smaller and I don’t believe it holds it’s leaves through the winter like Mojave. I personally have no experience with Salvia dorrii. So please use both and let us know which one you like better! You know which one I like better.

  8. Dan Mathews says:

    Ok thanks. I would try both but don’t think anyone within a reasonable travel distance from Grand Junction sells purple sage, so probably will go with Mojave.

  9. Robert Ciammaichella says:

    I found it at a cactus and tropicals in sandy Utah! Waited for their shipment to come in, had 5 ordered and when they came in they were small little things but they are doing well. One just put out its first bloom. That nursery was the only nursery that even knew what I was looking for when I asked for this plant. They said sure we have some in our parkway too and sure enough they did. It is fabulous there’s no watering when established and loves the sun. Actually gave three away because people that walked by always asked what it was and where to get it. They tried to take cuttings from it and collecting seeds on their way by but without success so I had a few plants to give them when they asked again. Now it is growing throughout the neighborhood.

  10. Nadine Abrahams says:

    Is Mojave sage invasive like Russian sage is? I need something that will contain itself, and not send runners all over like Russian sage does.

  11. Kent Rueckert says:

    If you are in the Denver area, the Flower Bin in Longmont has 5” pots of Mojave Sage. I was able to purchase them this April as well as last year. You might want to call them if you plan to go to check their stock.

  12. Heidi says:

    Where can I buy one ?

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Bluebird nursery sells them online and that might be the easiest way to get one. This is a great plant! Be aware establishing it can be a little challenging so keep an eye on it.

  13. Nico says:

    Are there conditions (in unamended soil in Fort Collins) that would cause mojave sage to have very few blooms in the second season after transplant? Thanks!

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Give it a another year or so to get established and it should begin blooming heavily in full sun locations.

  14. teresa cole says:

    Is altitude an issue with Mojave Sage? I live in Colorado at 8000 ft.

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Depends if you are in southern CO and if you have snow all winter. It will not like being covered in snow and rot out. At 8000ft the growing season is very short and this plant loves lots of heat. There are probably better choices such as penstemons. Good luck!

  15. Denise says:

    Hi! How much should I prune back 1 year old plants? Thank you!

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      It’s difficult to tell if this plant just lost its leaves over winter or actually died back. That’s why it’s best to wait until everything is leafed out and then trim out the dead and shape plant. If stems are dead you could prune back to 4″ height for a 1-year-old plant.

  16. Mary Davis says:

    can you use Mojave sage for cooking – flavoring a brine

  17. Caroline Kauffman says:

    I’ve had one of these for 3 years now. the first year it was gorgeous. It was covered in purple flowers just like in the photos I’ve seen. It hasn’t bloomed since. I live in the general area of Denver, CO, at about 5300 feet. It is planted in full sun in a south-facing bed near the house, gets water from my drip irrigation in the warm months, goes dormant in the winter and does fine on snowmelt. It does get very hot in that location in the summer, but I have misters built into the drip line to provide some cooling. Drainage is good. After it didn’t bloom in year two, I gave it a moderate pruning. In the fall of 2019, I pruned it back to wood, which there is quite a lot of by now, hoping that a more severe pruning was what it needed. Still no sign of flowers budding. It did self propagate, so now I have two of them, but the progeny isn’t blooming either. Can anyone offer suggestions? Incidentally, I bought it at Flower Bin in Longmont, CO.

  18. Odaspal says:

    Same thing… I live in Aurora, Co. I bought mine at Nicks. Planted in a large pot, full morning / day east -south sun. Planted mid-May, and grew 8x larger in just 3 months!.. but its mid-August now and still ZERO blossoms, buds or flowers. 🙁
    Im hoping it will awaken next spring again and it will flower next summer. The plant itself is of interest and pretty, but I bought it specifically becasue the flowers looked so striking. If it does not flower again next summer, I will probably get rid of it and plant something else that does flower.

  19. kate fischer says:

    I have a volunteer mojave two feet from a parent plant. Tried splitting another mojave last year. They’re so woody, I don’t recommend it! However the remaining plant is hanging in there and the split part grew very well in another spot. I’m in Grand Junction, very hot. I found mojave sage in Chelsea Nursery in Clifton, outside of Grand Junction, and their native and xeric plants are beautiful. My favorite nursery out here.

  20. Robert says:

    I planted Mojave Sage in Pueblo, Colorado in 2008.
    It is huge now and still healthy.

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