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We began publishing our Everything Salvias blog in 2010 for your enjoyment and to help you "get it right" when growing sages that are often unavailable at local garden centers.

It seems like there is an endless bounty of stories to be told. But that's to be expected when covering a genus containing an estimated 900 species -- the largest group within the mint family (Lamiaceae). In addition to Salvias, we write about other species that are either mint family members or low-water companions for our many drought-tolerant Salvias. We welcome comments as well as suggestions for future blog posts.

To access articles rapidly based on your interests, please click on the categories below, which include do-it-yourself videos (Views from the Garden). But please note: This is a dangerous place for a sage lover.

Explore the Categories:

Here are all of our articles:
Container Gardening Basics: Selecting a Good Potting Mix

Posted: Saturday, July 11, 2015
Synopsis: Why is regular garden soil a poor choice for container gardening, and why is sterilized, soilless potting mix better. The term "sterilized" indicates that a potting medium is free of pathogens, weed seed and toxins. "Soilless" means that although it contains organic and inorganic matter, it isn't a garden soil. One of the main reasons to use a soilless mix is that it allows water to drain better in a confined space. Flowers by the Sea explains the basics of potting mixes and why no one recipe fits all needs.

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Getting Started: What Is Drought and Xeriscaping

Posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Synopsis: Drought is a shortage of precipitation over a season or more as in California where four years of drastic declines in rainfall and snowpack have created severe watering cutbacks. Drought is also defined by what and whom it affects from agriculture to homeowners. Flowers by the Sea Farm and Online Nursery explains drought and xeriscape, a water-conserving form of landscaping that is effective for gardening during drought and in dry climates. This article is part of the FBTS Getting Started series for gardeners becoming acquainted with Salvias (true sages). It includes a brief list of drought-resistant sages.

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Creating Oases in Dry Yards With FBTS Container Gardens​

Posted: Monday, July 6, 2015

Container gardening likely began in ancient Egypt with Pharaoh Ramesses III who created garden cities lined with potted trees and papyrus plants. Ramesses didn't have a mail-order plant nursery like Flowers by the Sea to help him determine what to grow and how to do it. He also didn't have three-day mail delivery. But you don't have minions to help you plan and plant your landscape. So FBTS has designed discounted container kits for a variety of growing conditions, including drought.

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White Sage

Posted: Friday, July 3, 2015
Synopsis: Bees and hummingbirds love the perennial subshrub Sacred White Sage (Salvia apiana) with its soaring spikes of white-to-lavender flowers that visually cool the landscape along with its large rosettes of lance-shaped, greenish-white foliage. Sacred White Sage is far more than a pretty native plant of California. Historically, it provided food and medicine for a number of Native American tribes along the Pacific Coast. Today, bundles of Sacred White Sage leaves are still tied together to create torch-like wands called smudge sticks for fragrant purification ceremonies far beyond the Native American community.

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The Roseleaf Sage Group: Who's Who & What's What

Posted: Sunday, June 28, 2015

Differentiating between the plants in a closely related group can feel similar to being an outsider attending a large family reunion. Identifying who's who and how they are connected is a challenge. That's the way it is with Mexico's Roseleaf Sage (Salvia involucrata) Group, which is well loved by hummingbirds. One thing that may be confusing about the various cultivars and hybrids in the group is their abundance of puffy, tubular, magenta flowers. FBTS Online Plant Nursery grows a number of species from the group. Read more to learn about the randy Roseleaf Sage Group that hybridizes freely and includes many species that bloom in in winter.

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Growing Habitat: Three Tough Milkweeds to Help Monarchs

Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2015
Synopsis: Flowers by the Sea Farm and Online Plant Nursery is serious about wildlife gardening and grows a number of milkweed species considered among the best for supporting Monarch butterflies. Three of the nursery's toughest, loveliest milkweeds are Indian Milkweed (Asclepias eriocarpa), Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) and Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Read about the history of milkweeds and the reasons why Monarch butterflies are threatened due to a shortage of these tough yet lovely plants caused by herbicides.  Learn how herbicides and pesticides harm Monarchs and other milkweed-loving pollinators.

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Getting Started: Salvias for the Southwest

Posted: Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Synopsis: Ask anyone to describe the American Southwest, and they're likely to sum it up in three letters : "D-R-Y." Yet precipitation can vary a lot here state by state and even within different parts of the individual states. One thing that is consistent about the story of water throughout the Southwest, is that rain and snow can rapidly swing from famine to feast to misfortune.

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New at FBTS: Two New Himalayan Salvias from Chris Chadwell

Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2015
Synopsis: Yellow Salvias are rare, and so are professional plant explorers. Add to this list another rarity -- the availability online of high altitude, Himalayan plants grown from seed collected in the wild. Flowers by the Sea, our Northern California horticultural farm and online plant nursery, obtained seed for two new Salvias from British botanist and plant explorer Chris Chadwell. We're not certain that both plants are yellow-flowered Campanula Leaf Sage (Salvia campanulata), but FBTS is beginning sales now as we test these vigorous plants. Chadwell is an independent plantsman who supports his treks and research by selling shares in the results of his expeditions. FBTS is a subscriber. Himalayan Gloxinia (Incarvillea arguta) is another of our plants from Chadwell seed.

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Getting Started: Salvias for Zone 8

Posted: Thursday, May 14, 2015
Synopsis: Rainfall often is heavy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 8. It swings in a deep, broad arc from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast and back up the East Coast to the northeast edge of Virginia. What all its diverse areas have in common climatically is an average low winter temperature of 10 degrees F. Flowers by the Sea Online Nursery discusses growing conditions and how to select Salvias for your part of Zone 8 whether wet or dry.

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Getting Started: Salvias for the Coastal Southeast

Posted: Saturday, May 2, 2015
Synopsis: True sages are members of the Salvia genus and number in the hundreds. They are native to a wide variety of environments worldwide, which is why some are ideal for the dry gardens of California and others can handle the abundant moisture of the American Southeast. Flowers by the Sea raises many sages that grow well in the Southeast, including some that are either native to the region or have jumped fences from gardens into the wild.

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Getting Started: Salvias for New England

Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2015
Synopsis: Some people think you only find sage and coyotes out West. But Canis latrans, the Eastern Coyote, slipped into New England in the 1930s, and who knows when all the sages arrived? The New England Wild Flower Society notes that Lyreleaf Sage (Salvia lyrata) is the region's only native sage. It's one among many Salvia species grown in the Botanic Garden of Smith College in Massachusetts, which has one of the largest collections of sage in the region. Flowers by the Sea Online Plant Nursery raises hundreds of sages, including many northeastern favorites.

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Container Gardening: 32 Salvias and Companions for Hanging Baskets

Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Synopsis: As summer nears, it's time to prepare hanging baskets for patios, front entries and other locations that lend themselves to an aerial display of lush greenery and colorful blossoms. This year, don't just settle for what is familiar; make room for cascading Salvias and waterwise companion plants. Flowers by the Sea has selected 32 favorite plants that arch, tumble, form globes of bloom and otherwise perform beautifully aloft.

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Cultivating Color: New FBTS Tools Aid Garden Design

Posted: Saturday, April 25, 2015
Synopsis: Have we got tools for you! No, we aren't selling Ginzu clippers, rust-free shovels, a miraculous compost-in-minutes machine or anything requiring payments. We're talking about a set of color tools for accurately visualizing and comparing the floral and foliage colors of Salvias. As you wander through the riot of hues in our online catalog at Flowers by the Sea, these tools aid plant selection and landscape planning. Beginning in fall 2014, we began identifying the colors of all FBTS plants based on the internationally standardized color system published by the U.K.'s Royal Horticultural Society. This improves descriptions of plant colors and makes color comparisons of plants easier for garden design.

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Sacred Sage: Healing and Educating with Clary Sage

Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Synopsis: For American colonists, the home medicine cabinet was the kitchen garden just beyond the entry to their homes. Many of the plants in these 'dooryard gardens' were herbs used for multiple purposes, including serving as medicines. The New England Unit of the Herb Society of America notes that perennial Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) was common in these gardens. Clary Sage can also be found in the colonial garden of Johnson Elementary in Natick, Massachusetts. The garden is located in the Johnson Outdoor Classroom, which is part of a nationwide movement -- No Child Left Inside -- to mandate outdoor education. June is national 'Leave No Child Inside Month' -- a time for learning through relaxing outdoor activities. But the entire growing season is a ripe opportunity for field trips to the garden.

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Salvia Companions: Kentish Hero Pouch Flowers

Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Synopsis: An ancient Welsh chieftain was the inspiration for the common name of Kentish Hero Pouch Flower (Calceolaria integrifolia 'Kentish Hero'). Bright orange as a pumpkin, its plump, prolific blossoms bloom from spring into summer lighting up perennial gardens. This is a water-loving member of the snapdragon family (Scrophulariaceae) that grows well in sun and partial shade.

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A Gardeners Guide to Hummingbird Sage

Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2015
Synopsis: Among the hummers' favorites: Salvia spathacea, commonly known as Hummingbird Sage. As it name suggests, this California native produces the hummingbirds' flower of choice, blooming from late winter through summer -- and sometimes again in Fall -- with rose-pink to magenta blossoms. Available in six varieties, this robust perennial not only attracts hummers with its abundant nectar, it's easy to grow and enhances any landscape with its aromatic blooms and fragrant evergreen foliage.

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New at FBTS: Elegant Salvia valentina

Posted: Friday, April 10, 2015
Synopsis: Flowers by the Sea Online Salvia Nursery has fallen hard for the delicate look but rugged constitution of wildflower sages from Valencia on Spain's Mediterranean coast, especially Strong Spanish Sage (Salvia valentina). S. valentina has upright form and looks elegant dressed up in tall spikes of deep lavender, double-lipped flowers from spring into summer. It's a meadow sage with fuzzy bracts and stems that mature from green to rich Pantone Marsala.

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True Blue Salvias You Can Rely On for Garden Serenity

Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2015
Synopsis: Forget all the mournful music telling you that blue is the color of sadness. In a Salvia garden filled with hot colors, true blue is a peacemaker -- a reliable harmonizer that commands peace in the garden. This article talks a tiny bit about football, Madonna and the chemistry of true blue flowers. Then it offers a lot of true blue sages for gardens coast to coast from our Flowers by the Sea Online Nursery catalog.

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New at FBTS: Going Loco for Poco Kniphofias

Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Synopsis: Poco means "little" in Spanish. However, perennial Poco Kniphofias pack plenty of punch in the garden, because they tolerate summer heat, survive winter chill, are long blooming and have foliage that stays attractive despite wind. Flowers by the Sea is one of the first nurseries to grow both these short and tidy yet powerfully hot-colored Kniphofias -- solid-colored red and orange hybrids -- from the dwarf Poco Series developed by Terra Nova Nurseries of Canby, Oregon.

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Getting Started: Salvias for the Mid-Atlantic

Posted: Friday, March 20, 2015
Synopsis: Outside of its cities, the Mid-Atlantic can be described as an overwhelmingly green place. If you love the Mid-Atlantic, you revel in its verdant landscape. However, if you aren't reveling in the predictable planting choices you see in neighbor's yards, it may be time to expand your horizons by exploring the Salvia genus. Flowers by the Sea discusses the boundaries, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones and Salvia choices for the region.

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Sacred Sage: Relaxing, Beautifying and Cooking with Clary Sage

Posted: Monday, March 16, 2015
Synopsis: Today, Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) is best known for its essential oil, which is used mainly in aromatherapy and is extracted from the plant’s aromatic foliage and flowers. Yet Clary, which was a favorite of the ancient Greeks and Romans, also has a long history in beauty care, cooking and healing. This article talks about all but its healing qualities, which will be covered in the second part of this series.

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Annual Salvias that Hummingbirds Adore

Posted: Sunday, March 15, 2015
Synopsis: If a hummingbird could talk, he or she would tell you it's hard work packing for a long journey. Consuming mightily from dawn to dusk, day after day, hummingbirds double their weight before migration. They can't afford to run out of fuel before their next meal. To help hummingbirds, particularly on their northward journey, home gardeners can celebrate the arrival of spring by planting gardens filled with early blooming Salvias and companion plants that are excellent annuals in areas where winters are too chilly for survival as perennials.

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Big Orange Bedding Plant Beauties for Hummingbirds

Posted: Saturday, March 14, 2015
Synopsis: You'll hear a lot about red when planting annuals for wildlife gardens, because hummingbirds garden love red, tubular, nectar-rich flowers. But orange is another hummingbird favorite not to be neglected. Flowers by the Sea suggests five long blooming species for your landscape that begin shouting "Orange, orange, orange" in spring when hummingbirds are big-time hungry now, now, now as they head north for the nesting season.

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Getting Started: Types of Salvias for Zone 7

Posted: Friday, March 6, 2015
Synopsis: Winter temperatures can seem moderate, then dip to freezing in USDA Hardiness Zone 7, which covers a broad range of locations from Washington State to Washington, D.C. To succeed, Salvia perennials and shrubs need to tolerate temperature shifts and local growing conditions. Learn more at Flowers by the Sea, an online, mail-order Salvia nursery.

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Getting Started: Types of Salvias for Zone 6

Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Synopsis: To bloom yearly, Salvia perennials and shrubs in USDA Hardiness Zone 6 need to tolerate chilly winters with average low temperatures of -10 degrees F. The success of Zone 6 sages also depends on local growing conditions. Learn more at Flowers by the Sea, an online, mail-order Salvia nursery.

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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.