Forsythia in the Fall?

Some flowers are quintessentially devoted to a season. Par example: forsythia blooming in the Deep South right smack in the middle of March. Yet, we lucky gardeners in zones 8, 9, and 10 can grow a type of salvia often  referred to as Forsythia Sage, for it is chocked full bright, almost highlighter yellow blossoms…well…. forsythia yellow to be exact.

Salvia madrensis, as is the Latin nomenclature, tells us a good bit about the plant. Coming from the genus salvia , which is the largest genus in the mint family, we can come to expect square stems, an herbaceous scent, and lover of light and good drainage. The species’ name, madrensis, tells us the plant is from Madeira, a Portuguese archipelago. A salvia from a Portuguese island… perfect for a Southern garden!

I have been thrilled to welcome this marvelous plant in my garden for a fourth season. I plant a couple plants or rootings each spring to ensure my mass of blooms for the fall or in case the winter claimed one or two as victim. Now, I have a patch under the high shade of a pecan that receives just the right amount of midday sun for this salvia to thrive. Deep watering but not overwatering, Forsythia Sage appreciates a hearty watering two to three times a week rather than shallow watering every day. Rich, loamy soil gives the plant a good base and off you grow!

Reaching a height of seven plus feet easily in one growing season, I rely on this showstopper for a backdrop of the perennial beds, as centerpieces in a circular or parterre style garden, and as that last pop of color and pizzazz before the grayness of winter.

Another super attribute is the cut flower prowess this plant possesses. Accenting blue and white jardinières or cache pots, the yellow whirling florets make for the classic combo of yellow and blue when arranged so. Depression glass bottles, aqua glass, or a simple container also make for lovely displays of this garden must have. However you arrange it, en masse on its own or mixed with other garden lovelies, I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to have these stems gracing your home.

Now, here is one of this Farmer’s favorite things to do with Forsythia Sage… Holiday gifts! This plant roots so easily and will last all winter long in a sunny window sill rooting in a pretty glass of water, I love to give pieces for rooting as garden gifts all holiday season long. When spring comes around, place your rooting in larger pots or directly in the garden so your garden will be full of these fabulous flowers come fall!


Right up there with the wine, this Salvia madrensis might just be the next best thing from Madeira! From this Farmer’s garden to yours, happy fall gardening with forsythia hued blooms!