0

Your Shopping Cart

Your cart is empty.

Ask Mr. Sage: Does Flowers by the Sea Sell Seeds?

May 1, 2014

Ask Mr. Sage: Does Flowers by the Sea Sell Seeds?

Dear Mr. Sage,
I am looking for a specific kind of Tropical Sage seed. The flowers are such a bright red that they make the foliage look like it's on fire. I heard that Thomas Jefferson once grew this plant in his gardens, but I can't think of its name. Can you help me identify this sage and sell me some seed, please?

Thank You,
Serious Seed Hunter

Dear Serious Seed Hunter,
Yes, President Thomas Jefferson once grew Tropical Sage (Salvia coccinea) in his gardens at Monticello. It's still grown there as part of the historic gardens you can tour.

We produce a bright red-flowered heirloom variety called S. coccinea 'Forest Fire' that may be the plant to which you refer. It is one of the varieties Jefferson is said to have grown. However, FBTS never sells seeds; instead, we sell Forest Fire Tropical Sage and other Salvias as well-established sets for moderate prices.

FBTS is a plant nursery rather than a seed house, which is the term used for the agricultural businesses that produce and sell seed. Seed houses are generally part of deep pocket agricultural conglomerates that can afford the extensive equipment, labs, facilities, test gardens and staff to produce certified seed on a marketable scale. Certified seed results in plants that look like and are true to the characteristics of their parent stock.

In fact, many of the sages grown by FBTS are hybrids that can't be safely reproduced from seed. They require vegetative reproduction through cuttings. Hybrid seed almost never grows true to its parent stock.

Nevertheless, we cultivate Forest Fire from seed instead of cuttings. This is because its seed almost always creates plants that replicate the parent stock -- something that isn't true for many Salvias, including those that hybridized in the wild.

Salvias freely hybridize within and across species. Unless a sage is grown in isolation --such as in a special miniature enclosure called a seed cage or at quite a distance from other sages -- it is likely to cross-pollinate with others of its genus.

What can I say? Salvias are a randy lot, which makes it extremely expensive and labor intensive to produce certified seed. Beware when purchasing from small companies that may unknowingly supply Salvia seed contaminated by other varieties or species.

Seed saving is a popular hobby for vegetable and flower gardeners alike. It is something we do, although we never sell the seed. If you would like to try it, the How to Save Seeds website provides a detailed explanation of the steps necessary to make sure that the seeds you save grow true to type.

If you have more questions about Tropical Sage, seed saving or any of our hundreds of plants please call or write. We're here to help.

Thanks for Your Question,
Mr. Sage

Ask Mr. Sage is a question-and-answer feature based on topics raised in calls and emails that Flowers by the Sea receives. To send a query, just click on the Ask Mr. Sage button on this page.

Comments

There are no comments yet.


Plants mentioned in this article
Ask Mr Sage is one of the most popular categories in our Everything Salvias blog. Here are a few of the latest posts:
Ask Mr. Sage: How to Place Advance Orders with FBTS - Flowers by the Sea is a mail-order nursery eliminating craziness from garden planning with advance orders and customer selection of shipping dates. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature based on calls and emails received by FBTS. This article details how to use our redesigned preorder process and other catalog tools for making sure you get the plants you want when you want them. Ask Mr. Sage: How to Select Plants for Garden Triumph - Planning for Salvia garden success requires following the rule of selecting the right plant for the right place. Desert sages aren't appropriate for the damp Southeast. Moisture-loving ones aren't right for desert climates where they need lots of watering to survive. Flowers by the Sea Farm and Online Nursery offers tips for selecting plants based on local climate. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the FBTS Everything Salvias Blog. Ask Mr. Sage: How Should I Prune my Salvias? - Flowers by the Sea Online Nursery specializes in Salvias and often receives questions about how to prune them. Although getting good at pruning takes practice, Salvias rebound quickly if you make mistakes. A key to successful pruning is understanding the varying needs of four main categories of sages. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the FBTS Everything Salvias Blog. Ask Mr. Sage: Do You Offer Free Shipping? - Like free lunches, free shipping is a myth. Flowers by the Sea doesn't offer free shipping, because it would require increasing plant prices to cover the cost of shipping. Read more to learn how FBTS sets fair shipping prices. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the Everything Salvias Blog and is based on calls and notes from customers. Ask Mr. Sage: Best Time to Plant Drought Resistant CA Natives - Drought resistant California native sages thrive when planted in fall. It's easier for roots to become established when soil is warm, air temperatures are cooler and precipitation is increasing. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the Everything Salvias Blog and is based on calls and emails from customers. Ask Mr. Sage: What Is Shipping in Boxes Like for Salvias? - It's understandable to worry about the condition of plants following shipment in a box. However, Flowers by the Sea Online Plant Nursery is exceedingly careful to make sure your plants arrive in healthy condition. A satisfied customer sent us the photos in this article. Step by step, they illustrate the process of unpacking and hardening off FBTS plants received by 3-day ground delivery more than 1200 miles away from our Northern California farm.