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Drought Tolerant

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Drought Tolerant

Drought tolerance is characterized by a plant's ability to get by on less water. Yet native climate often defines the boundaries of this trait. The plants in this list all share the ability to grow in arid conditions when water is scarce.

A plant that tolerates and perhaps thrives on less than 15 inches of annual rain may be overwhelmed by moisture in a state where drought lowers the annual average from 50 to 40 inches. But Flowers by the Sea also gladly provides information if you ask about Salvias and companion plants that are appropriate for drought in damper parts of the nation.

One definition of drought is a below-average amount of rain and snow over an extended period, such as during more than one growing season. Yet drought is caused by more than a shortfall of local precipitation.

Even if your area’s seasonal average of moisture is at a historically normal level, the level in another region may not be. If waterways and dams connect the two regions -- such as in the American West -- low river levels can mean decreased water storage and drought for both areas. Furthermore, if your region’s population is growing but its water supply isn’t, that can also lead to drought due to insufficiency.

This adds up to a web of trouble that can only be untangled through water conservation. One effective conservation measure is to design gardens with plants that are attractive yet need little water. These are called xeriscapes, waterwise landscapes and dry gardens.

Drought tolerance is closely connected to the term "xeric," a Greek word for "dry” and the root of xeriscape. Xeriscapic plants include species accustomed to arid climates or dry summer/wet winter growing conditions, such as along coastlines with Mediterranean climates.

The Salvias and companion plants in this list share the ability to grow when water is scarce. They are attractive even while surviving minimal summer water. Many are native to arid regions or are from Mediterranean climates.

Before ordering plants, please carefully consider your local growing conditions in order to select species that will be right for your climate and yard. We're happy to provide recommendations.

Plants


  • Salvia leucantha 'Greenwood'

    (Mexican Bush Sage or Velvet Sage) This variety of Mexican Bush Sage has purple and white flowers that bloom from summer into fall. Fuzzy leaves, stems and calyxes are characteristic of its species, so this native of Mexico and Central America is also called Velvet Sage.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia leucantha 'Midnight'

    (Midnight Mexican Bush Sage) The typical Mexican Bush Sage has purple flowers surrounded by furry white bracts. This clone from the San Francisco Peninsula has deep purple flowers, calyxes and stems. It is a good groundcover due to a mounding habit, smaller size and generous amounts of flowers.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia leucantha 'Purple Dwarf'

    (Mexican Bush Sage or Velvet Sage) Large purple and white flowers bloom abundantly on this compact dwarf plant. If you love the rich colors and velvety foliage of Mexican Bush Sage but have limited space or need a container variety, this one is is for you.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia leucantha 'Santa Barbara'

    (Santa Barbara Mexican Bush Sage) This compact Mexican Bush Sage was found in the Santa Barbara garden of Kathiann Brown. It is, without a doubt, the finest short Mexican Bush Sage -- hardy, tough and long blooming. Add drought tolerance and dark, rich purple flowers to its list of merits.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia leucantha 'White Mischief'

    (White Mischief Mexican Bush Sage) Profuse white blossoms and true white velvety bracts make the flowers of this South African hybrid a lovely choice for a wedding. In our experience, many of the plants sold as White Mischief are not the real thing. This tough, compact, long blooming sage is.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia leucophylla 'Amethyst Bluffs'

    (Giant Spreading California Purple Sage or Giant Spreading California Gray Sage) Looking for a large-scale groundcover? One for poor soil, little-to-no water, howling winds or seriously hot sun? This variety of Salvia leucophylla may be the answer.
    10.50
     


  • Salvia leucophylla 'Point Sal Spreader'

    (Spreading California Purple Sage or Spreading California Gray Sage) Songbirds love this California native as do honeybees and hummingbirds. This Salvia leucophylla clone was collected in 1982 by Dr. Dale Smith of University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB #82152) at Point Sal near Santa Barbara.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia lycioides x greggii 'San Isidro'

    (Saint Isidro's Sage) This hardy, lavender-blue-flowered Salvia comes from Southern Texas and has the same breeding as the famous Ultra Violet Autumn Sage. Although it needs warmer winter temperatures and has smaller foliage, it also does well in stressful conditions, including drought.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia lycioides x greggii 'Ultra Violet'

    (Ultra Violet Hybrid Sage) Hardy is a word bandied about by gardeners and nurserymen. Its use is often exaggerated. But this fine hybrid deserves to be called "the hardiest Autumn Sage." It's Zone-5 hardy, drought resistant and has lovely, soft purple flowers. Ultra Violet is a winner.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia melissodora

    (Grape Scented Sage) With the grape scent of its pale lavender blossoms and its long history of medicinal use, it is no surprise that this sage is so widely distributed.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia mellifera

    (Black Sage or Honey Sage) One of the most common and fragrant native shrubs in Central California's Coast Ranges, Black Sage is ideal for dry gardens. Admirably adaptable, it tolerates soils ranging from the most marginal to ones that are loamy and provide excellent drainage. It is a survivor.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia mellifera 'Jade Carpet'

    (Jade Carpet Black Sage) Black Sage Salvia mellifera is one of the most common and fragrant native shrubs in the California Coast Ranges and is ideal for dry gardens. At 24 inches tall by 6 feet wide, this variety is an excellent groundcover. It is slightly taller and has more grey in the leaf color than the closely related variety 'Terra Seca'.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia mellifera 'Terra Seca'

    (Dry Earth Black Sage) Black Sage Salvia mellifera is one of the most common and fragrant native shrubs in the California Coast Ranges and is ideal for dry gardens. At 12 inches tall by 5 feet wide, this variety is an excellent groundcover.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia merjamie

    (Minty Kilimanjaro Sage) Leaf-like, fuzzy, violet bracts surround the 1-inch-long flowers of Salvia merjamie, which is native to the East African highlands from Ethiopia to Tanzania as well as Yemen and grows on Mount Kilimanjaro.
    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'Belize Form'

    (Black Stem Mountain Sage) Intense cardinal red flowers, stiff black stems and large, ribbed, green leaves make this Salvia microphylla stand out. Its color and upright growth make it dramatic amid a group of soft, rounded Salvias.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'Berkeley Barb'

    (Berkeley Barb Mountain Sage) California's Monterey Bay Nursery discovered a surprising Mountain Sage (Salvia microphylla) seedling growing accidentally on its gravel floor one day.
    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'Flower Child'

    (Flower Child Mountain Sage) At 18 to 24 inches tall, this is the smallest Salvia microphylla that we grow. Its common name is based on the plant's lavender-to-pink flowers, which are so abundant that they sometimes seem to outnumber the leaves.
    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Blast'

    (Blast Pink Mountain Sage) Long blooming Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Blast' produces prolific quantities of large, dusky salmon-pink blossoms and dense, mid-green foliage.

    10.50
     


    Special Order Plant
    Special Order Plant   This plant is available by Special Order. Click for more information.
  • Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Blaze'

    (Heatwave Red Mountain Sage) Compact and small, this Mountain Sage is another fine groundcover for Southern California, the Southwest and Texas. Similar to Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Glimmer', it not only survives but thrives in extreme heat.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Brilliance'

    (Brilliance Pink Mountain Sage) Long blooming Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Brilliance' produces prolific quantities of deep reddish-pink, or cerise, blossoms along with dense, mid-green foliage.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Glare'

    (Glare White Mountain Sage) Long blooming Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Glare' produces prolific quantities of white blossoms with a subtle pinkish cast. It has dense, mid-green foliage.

    10.50
     


    New!
  • Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Glimmer'

    (Glimmering White Mountain Sage) Heatwave Glimmer isn't a mirage. It is a Salvia microphylla that tolerates extremely hot climates as well as cooler regions. It doesn't just survive; it thrives in the heat of Southern California, the Southwest and Texas.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Glitter'

    (Glittering Pink Mountain Sage) Mountain Sage (Salvia microphylla) handles hot climates as well as cooler coastal regions. It withstands the high temperatures of Southern California, the Southwest and Texas.

    10.50
     


    Special Order Plant
    Special Order Plant   This plant is available by Special Order. Click for more information.
  • Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Radiance'

    (Radiance Bright Pink Mountain Sage) Long blooming Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Radiance' produces prolific quantities of hot pink blossoms along with dense, mid-green foliage.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Scorcher'

    (Scorching Pink Mountain Sage) Compact and small, this Mountain Sage is another fine groundcover for Southern California, the Southwest and Texas. Similar to Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Glimmer', it not only survives but thrives in extreme heat.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Sparkle'

    (Sparkle Pink Mountain Sage) Long blooming Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Sparkle' produces prolific quantities of deep mauve-pink blossoms with white throats and dense, mid-green foliage.

    10.50
     


    Special Order Plant
    Special Order Plant   This plant is available by Special Order. Click for more information.
    New!
  • Salvia microphylla 'Honey Rose'

    (Honey Rose Mountain Sage) So dark that they almost seem black, the stems of this Mountain Sage add drama to flowers the color of creamy tomato soup. The lush, mid-green foliage has distinctive ribbing and is stiffly upright; it makes a strong statement when grouped with soft, rounded Salvias.
    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips'

    (Hot Lips Sage) What a winner for fascinating flowers! Hot Lips Sage has solid red, solid white and two-tone combinations all on the same plant and often at the same time.The variations are random. You might say that this shrubby sage is mixed-up, but its confused coloring makes it highly desirable.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'Killer Cranberry'

    (Killer Cranberry Mountain Sage) Masses of magenta flowers on tall spikes lure honeybees and hummingbirds to the rich nectar of Salvia microphylla 'Killer Cranberry'. Its prolific flowers are a killer attraction for people too.

    10.50
     


    New!
  • Salvia microphylla 'La Trinidad Pink'

    (Trinity Mountain Sage) Heat and drought tolerant, this Salvia microphylla is native to Northeastern Mexico where summers are dry and temperatures can rise to more than 100 degrees F. It can survive winter temperatures down to 0 degrees.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'Mesa Azure'

    (Azure Hybrid Sage) Despite its name, the flowers of this tiny hybrid aren't really blue. They are a light purple. Due to its size, long bloom time, heat tolerance and drought resistance, Salvia x 'Mesa Azure' is a fine groundcover for areas where summers are hot and dry.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'Orange Door'

    (Big Orange Mountain Sage) When temperatures are cooler in spring and fall, the persimmon-orange flowers of this large Mountain Sage darken. Gray-green foliage, deep red calyxes and reddish-green stems add to the plant's fascinating look, which mixes well with yellows and blues.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'People's Park'

    (People's Park Mountain Sage) Sometimes nature can be rebellious. This is one the Mountain Sages known as the Turbulent Sixties Series developed from an outlaw cultivar of the Southwestern native Salvia microphylla. Monterey Bay Nursery (MBN) named their accidental hybrid ‘Berzerkeley.’

    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'Red Velvet'

    (Red Velvet Mountain Sage) This is one of the most intense red-flowering variety of Mountain Sage we grow. Medium-sized flowers are profuse on this large, vigorous plant -- particularly in spring and fall. Dark stems and calyxes intensify the plant's drama along with glossy green foliage.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'Rosie O' Grady'

    (Rosie O'Grady Mountain Sage) Honeybees and hummingbirds love the large, bright pink flowers of Salvia microphylla 'Rosie O'Grady', a drought-resistant sage. Dense and fragrant, it's large, glossy green leaves are veined and have finely serrated edges. This is a lush choice for dry gardens.

    10.50
     


  • Salvia microphylla 'Royal Bumble'

    (Royal Bumble Mountain Sage) Almost black, the stems and calyxes of this UK hybrid form a pleasing contrast with its medium-size scarlet flowers and glossy green leaves. Bloom time is spring to fall. This Mountain Sage suckers freely and forms a dense clump.

    10.50
     




Take a Quick Look at a group of Salvias
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Reviews


Having recently received Cayman, I haven't yet seen it in bloom but am delighted to give a home to a plant that was on the brink of extinction. Since it may be short-lived, I'll keep it in a pot and try leaf cuttings in the winter. I like this com...
Ms. Robin Hoselton
Jun 3, 2017