(Showy Milkweed) Milkweeds (Asclepias spp. ) are must-have, nectar-rich plants in the butterfly garden. They're the only genus on which the endangered Monarch butterfly lays eggs. It is urgent that we offer this pretty, fragrant wildflower.
In spring 2013, The New York Times reported a precipitous decline in the Monarch butterfly migration due to various causes, including North America’s plummeting supply of Milkweed. The species normally grows wild in agricultural fields. However, the increasing use of seed genetically modified to withstand herbicides has eliminated at least 120 million acres of Monarch habitat, according to The New York Times.
Backyard gardeners can help reverse this trend by growing plants, such as Showy Milkweed, which keep the Monarch migration alive and feed other species of butterflies as well.
Butterflies need flowers on which they can easily perch while sipping nectar. Plants with globe-shaped flower heads, such as those of Milkweeds, meet this need. The roughness of Showy Milkweed's long, fuzzy, gray-green leaves make it easy for eggs and chrysalises to connect. Powerful chemicals in the foliage are consumed by Monarch caterpillars and make them off limits -- as babies and adult butterflies -- to predators that can’t consume those substances.
Showy Milkweed features globes of tiny, star-shaped flowers that are pale, creamy pink. It isn’t very big for such a powerful plant, growing only 24 to 36 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Although it can tolerate a bit of partial shade, this plant prefers full sun. It likes droughty conditions as well as gravelly ground. Any kind of soil will do as long as it drains well.
This cold-tolerant species grows well in USDA Zones 4 to 9 where it looks pretty in perennial borders or massed with other Lepidoptera favorites in butterfly gardens. It is particularly well adapted to dry gardens. Milkweeds are native to a large swath of North America, so they are also good choices for native gardens.
To control the plant’s tendency to naturalize in parts of the yard where you don’t want to grow it, simply snip off the seedpods before they ripen and pop open.
IMPORTANT NOTE: What you will recieve is a very well established root system. The foliege will not be cosmetically perfect, and it is only in the second year, once planted out in the ground, that this species will attain its full potential. In the wild this species often exhibits summer dormancy. There is generally very little above ground activity in the year in which this is planted.
(California Drought Action Pack) The drought in California is a real challenge to gardeners and to the wildlife that depends increasingly on us for survival. We want to help.
This package consists of Salvias, Agastache, Kniphofia, Asclepias and other wildlife-friendly & drought resistant plants that will grow, bloom and be happy in dry gardens. We will personally select three each of four different plants, taking into account your particular climate and location. These are some of our top sellers, offered as a discounted group. We can't promise any specific plant, but you'll be excited when you unpack your box!
We're all concerned about the declining habitats and food sources for hummingbirds, butterflies and bees - and by planting these in your garden you will be doing a great service to our animal friends that being stressed by the lack of flowers. Because of the large number of suitable varieties we grow, we'll plan to send along a balanced, long blooming mix. You can plant now and enjoy these beauties for years to come, even if the drought continues.
Some of the plants
We also include a detailed Planting Guide, to insure your success.
We offer this for the Fall planting season only with free shipping anywhere in California. You can choose your desired shipping date during checkout.
Please let us know in the "Customer Notes" section of the shopping cart if you have any color preferences or blooming season restrictions. We guarantee to pick out some of the very best drought tolerant varieties we grow for you. Please, this is for California residents only.
(Mango Popsicle Hot Poker) This genus has become very popular in the last few years - for good reason. They feed hummingbirds & honeybees, and attract butterflies. And this superior variety from Oregon's TerraNova Nurseries is compact, free blooming and amazingly hardy.
In 2011 and 2012 we grew dozens of the new Kniphofia varieties, and only a few stood out from the pack. This is absolutely our favorite. One of our nursery friends in Portland, Oregon said that it continued to bloom through January, even though the foliage was covered with a foot of snow.
We don't grow many non-Salvias, and when we do it has to be special. This is one of those very, very good new plants. A must have plant.
(Pineapple Popsicle Hot Poker) This genus has become very popular in the last few years - for good reason. They feed hummingbirds and butterflies. And this superior variety from Oregon's TerraNova Nurseries is compact, free blooming and amazingly hardy.
In 2011 and 2012 we grew dozens of the new Kniphofia varieties, and only a few stood out from the pack. We love this one for its bright, neutral color that goes with anything. One of our nursery friends in Portland, Oregon said that it continued to bloom through January, even though the foliage was covered with a foot of snow.
We don't grow many non-Salvias, and when we do it has to be special. This is one of those very, very good new plants. A must have plant.
Although used in cooking, this mild tasting oregano is particularly ornamental. Its gold-green leaves turn bright gold in autumn adding a glow to herb gardens, borders and container plantings. In summer, it shoots up 20-inch-tall spikes of pink flowers.
Norton’s Gold is a hybrid, but the species is native to Greece and Turkey. This short variety rises up 3 to 6 inches and spreads 24 inches or more. So it works well as a fragrant, drought-resistant groundcover. It's also cold tolerant and grows well in USDA Zones 6 to 9.
Give this perennial partial to full shade or a combination of morning sun and afternoon shade. Any soil will do as long as it is well drained. Regular watering is fine, but as with so many herbs, Norton’s Gold Oregano thrives in dry conditions.
Historically, oreganos have been used as in herbal remedies for problems including respiratory difficulties, heartburn and urinary tract afflictions. Oregano oil also is used in insect repellant; in the garden, oregano plants deter many garden pests while attracting honeybees and butterflies. You might say they are golden.
(Vicki Romo White Sage) A hybrid of two, top Californian natives, Vicki Romo has foliage very much like that of White Sage (Salvia apiana) and darker lavender flowers than those of Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii).
Vicki Romo is from the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden where it was named after a graduate student intern. It has bigger, more pronounced flowers that bloom from spring into summer and is a bit less fragrant than its parent plants. Similar to White Sage, it can grow up to 5 feet tall. However, unlike both of its smaller parents, Vicki Romo can spread up to 5 feet. This makes it economical as a border screen or tall groundcover.
This heat-resistant, drought-tolerant shrub requires good drainage and full sun. Both parents have a dry-summer/wet-winter range and often grow on rocky, south slopes. Little water is needed once it becomes established.
We love everything about this sage, especially how it attractst honeybees and hummingbirds but not deer.
(Lavender Leaf Sage) It's easy to confuse this sage from Southern Mexico with a Lavender bush. The bluish-lavender flower spikes make it look like a Lavandula species as does the foliage, which is similar in size, shape and color.
However, unlike Lavender, which blooms from spring into fall, this gray herbaceous perennial sage follows an opposite pattern. It begins blooming in fall and continues into spring if not deterred by frost.
Although it doesn't grow quickly, heat-tolerant Salvia lavanduloides is tough when given full sun, good air circulation and well-drained soil. It is a fragrant groundcover, border or container plant and is highly recommended by honeybees and butterflies. Humans like it too, which explains why it is often in short supply.
(Giant Purple Desert Sage) It’s best to plant this flamboyant native of the Southwest in spring or summer. However, once established, it tolerates winters from USDA Zones 5 to 9. Purple tubular flowers and burgundy bracts flare up its 10-inch flower spikes like flames on this softly rounded shrub.
Fragrant, drought resistant and heat tolerant, this is a sage that isn’t particular about soils as long as they drain well. Give this shrub lots of sunshine and little water for best performance. We have learned by experience that this species grows best where there are definite seasons, and where the winters are not particularly wet. They thrive in Denver, and languish in Los Angeles.
Blue Flame’s improbably lush flowers are offset by mid-green foliage. It does well in dry, gravelly gardens as a groundcover, border or pathway edging and is just right for a native garden focusing on the Southwest or a wide variety of American native species.
Expect Blue Flame to grow up to 36 inches tall and 24 inches wide and to flower from summer to fall. Expect to fall in love with it; certainly butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds do. Luckily, deer avoid it.
Thanks for the beautiful photo go to high-altitude plant expert Panayoti Kelaidis, senior curator and director of outreach at Denver Botanic Gardens.
(Texas Blue Sage) This is a cutie and a tough customer once established. It even grows well in caliche soils. Although Salvia texana typically blooms only during spring in Texas, it has a longer season stretching into fall up north.
Flower colors are in the blue range and include purple and violet. Our strain could be described as having the violet of Scarlet O’Hara eyes as well as pronounced white beelines. Its deep green, oblong leaves and bracts are covered with silky hairs so long that they look like eyelashes.
Although short at 12 to 24 inches tall, Texas Blue Sage is so charming that we like to crouch down to get a closer look. In Northern California, it thrives in full sun, but in Texas, it appreciates a bit of shade on the hottest days. This drought resistant Texas perennial does well in a dry garden, but also accepts regular watering in well drained soils.
It can be temperamental outside its native range, so please take special care with this species. Not a good plant for moist or humid parts of he country.
Grow it as a groundcover or in borders, native plant gardens and prairie-type landscapes. We agree with the butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees that visit this beauty: What’s not to love about it.
(Celestial Blue Sage) Fast growing and adaptable, this sage is a chance hybrid between Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii) -- also called California Blue Sage -- and California Rose Sage (Salvia pachyphylla). It may also be related to California Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla).
Celestial Blue has lovely royal blue flowers and purple bracts. Sun-loving, heat tolerant and drought resistant, it was discovered at Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery in Southern California.
This fragrant sage blooms and blooms throughout the heat of summer. Tolerant of everything but wet feet during summer, it withstands winter temperatures as low as 10 degrees F for a short time as well as lows in the 20-degree range for days.
Use this pretty plant in tough soils, on banks and in areas where watering is difficult or undesirable. Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds love it, but deer leave it alone. This cultivar is one of the best Salvias for cut-flower arrangements.
Worries about declining numbers of the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) emerged several times this past year in newspapers and on wildlife websites. Yet this isn't a new problem. Due to research by organizations such as Monarch Watch as well as tracking efforts by the Mexican government, we now know about the dramatic ups and downs the species has experienced in the past 20 years. We have a clearer picture of how Monarch migration is endangered. You can aid the miracle of migration by Monarchs and other butterflies by planting butterfly gardens containing both nectar and host plants. At Flowers by the Sea, we grow a wide range of butterfly favorites.
Fragrance as well as color attracts butterflies. However, they don't have noses. Instead, butterflies smell and taste with their antennas and feet. Here are some ways to attract them:
If you live in suburbs or rural areas where deer plunder gardens, Salvias (sages) can be part of your plan for discouraging these hungry visitors. Here are some tips.
Xeric plants are excellent for water conservation. They grow well in dry gardens with little to no supplemental watering once established. In fact, overwatering can harm these plants, which are native to dry environments such as deserts and chaparral.
At Flowers by the Sea, we identify all xeric plants with a blue plant marker that warns against overwatering. Here are some tips for growing and understanding our xeric, or blue tag, plants:
1) In a humid region, you may find it difficult to grow plants native to semi-arid and arid environments. Yet xeric plants may succeed if you have a persistently dry area, such as under a roof overhang or in the shelter of a tree.
2) Xeric plants are excellent for locations far from garden hoses, such as along sidewalks -- areas often referred to as "hellstrips."
3) Shipping is hard on xeric plants, which suffer from confinement in small containers as well as boxes. You may see some mold, spots on leaves or withered foliage when they arrive. But xeric plants perk up with proper care while hardening off in partial shade before planting.
4) When amending soil before planting, remember that xeric plants not only need excellent drainage but also flower better in low fertility soil. Fertilize sparingly and use a mix with more phosphorous than nitrogen to encourage flowering and discourage lax overgrowth of foliage.
5) Organic matter, such as compost, is an excellent soil amendment for xeric plants, because it keeps their roots healthy by improving aeration and drainage.
6) When your xeric plants are established, water infrequently to encourage deep root growth and to avoid fungal problems. However, it's a good idea to gently spray dust off foliage about once a week.