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Ask Mr. Sage: How to Select Plants in Warm Zones

Nov 7, 2014

Ask Mr. Sage: How to Select Plants in Warm Zones

Dear Mr. Sage:
I recently moved to Los Angeles and live in Zone 10. This is a new gardening situation for me. I've noticed that some Zone 9 plants grow well in my yard, but I'm not certain how to use zone information to select Salvias and other perennials from your catalog.

Agapanthus is thriving a bit too much along a sunny wall in my yard. I want to remove some of it and replace it with Salvias. Do you have any suggestions about what I should do?
Thanks,
Lost in the Zones

Dear Lost in the Zones,
It's understandable to feel a bit lost when you are in a new gardening environment. However, remember that USDA Cold Hardiness Zones are only based on winter temperatures that plants can withstand. So if a plant can handle the winter in Zone 9 with average coldest temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees F, then it will be fine in Zones 10 or 11 where winters are warmer.

On the details and cultural icons pages of each plant description in our catalog, we note appropriate zones. In particular, if a plant is classified as hardy to Zone 9, then it will be right for the temperatures in your area. But there are other considerations that affect whether a plant is appropriate for your site. Our description details also contain information about soil and water needs. If a plant prefers damp soil and you have a dry garden, then you need to select a more drought tolerant Salvia or companion plant.

to narrow your list of red plants for your Zone-10 garden, start with one or two of the other filters allowing you to specify height, spread, soil type and water needs

To make selection easier, we provide a product-filtering tool to sort the hundreds of choices in our catalog. When you choose a category from the green menu bar at the top of any page -- such as Salvias by Color -- you'll see that the left-hand margin of the page contains a list of search filters for narrowing selections.

Let's assume that after opening the Salvias by Color menu, you choose red, because it will look pretty with the purple of your Agapanthus. This opens a queue containing only red plants. Then you go to the filters and select a few ways to trim the list.

The first filter, which you don't need, is for USDA Zones. Most of the plants we sell, even the ones that are extremely cold hardy, will grow in the warmest zones. Of course, the zone filter is invaluable to a gardener who, for example, needs to find plants that will tolerate frigid Zone 5 winter temperatures

But to narrow your list of red plants for your Zone-10 garden, start with one or two of the other filters allowing you to specify height, spread, soil type and water needs.

Although we are always glad to have you contact us, this article about FBTS Product Filtering will also give you lots of information about how to cruise our catalog and find what is right for you. It's from our Everything Salvias Blog, which is another tool for finding the information that you need.

Here is one of our blog articles about native sages for Southern California and another about drought-tolerant dry shade plants.

If you're still feeling zoned out by USDA Zones or have other questions, please call or write. We'll help clear the confusion.

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.

Updated 2/23/2016

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