Herbaceous perennial or evergreen sub-shrub in the Lamiaceae family, native to Mexico and Guatemala. Light to mid green, soft downy, toothed leaves, arranged in pairs, with a stong pineapple scent. Four-angled stems, often becoming woody at their base. Spikes to about 20 cm long, with whorls of bright scarlet red, tubular flowers 3 to 5 cm long, during late summer and autumn. Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Flowers and leaves are edible, and are used for example in fruit salads and drinks.
Prefers a sheltered position in full sun and well-draining soil. Leaves may droop during dry periods, but the plant is reasonably drought-hardy and will usually recover after watering. Tolerates poor soils, partial shade, and moderate frosts (USDA zones 8-10). May require staking in exposed areas. Cut back to near ground level after flowering, and bring indoors to overwinter in cold climates, or, in warmer regions, wait for it to come back in spring. In frost-free zones, or areas with light to moderate frosts, you can treat this as an evergreen shrub, pruning in winter to maintain a well-shaped, compact plant.
Salvia elegans is a fast-growing plant with a brilliant flower colour and fresh green leaves. Great addition to herb gardens, but will quickly grow into quite a tall shrub, so plant behind smaller growing herbs. In flower borders, combine this with other bright colours, such as warm oranges, yellows and reds to create a dramatic scene of hot colours. In combination with plants that have bold flower shapes such as dahlias, sunflowers, and Echinacea, Salvia elegans flowers add a touch of daintiness.