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 You are here    Flowers by the Sea / Everything Salvias

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.

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Here are all of our articles:
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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Getting Started: Salvias for Zone 5

Posted: Saturday, February 28, 2015
Synopsis:

To bloom yearly, Salvia perennials and shrubs in USDA Hardiness Zone 5 need to tolerate deep freeze winters with average low temperatures of -20 degrees F. The success of Zone 5 sages also depends on local growing conditions. Learn more at Flowers by the Sea, an online, mail-order Salvia nursery.



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Salvia Softwood Tip Cuttings

Posted: Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Synopsis:

Growing Salvias from plant cuttings is simple with a bit of expert advice from Flowers by the Sea horticulturist Kermit Carter. Although many Salvias are woody, the tips of their stems are soft and green. They're called softwood tips. In this video, Carter talks about how to select the best tips for propagation. He shows how long plant cuttings need to be and explains plant nodes -- the points from which cuttings can produce roots. Sometimes the leaves of a cutting require more moisture than a stem can absorb. Carter trims portions of leaves to reduce wilt and improve rooting. Demonstrating a standard FBTS procedure, he accelerates rooting by dipping the stems of cuttings in powdered rooting hormone and inserting them in tiny foam blocks for easy growth. Carter also suggests heating mats to encourage growth. He shows what the foliage and root balls will look like a few weeks later when ready for transplanting.

Salvia Softwood Tip Cuttings is part of the Views from the Garden video series published in the FBTS Everything Salvias blog. Flowers by the Sea is a horticultural farm and an online, mail order Salvia nursery.



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Getting Started: How Much Water Salvias Need

Posted: Friday, February 20, 2015
Synopsis:

Salvias may need little or lots of water depending on species and local growing conditions. Many are drought resistant, getting by on less than an inch a week. Learn about the many kinds of Salvias, also called sages, at Flowers by the Sea. We're an online, mail-order nursery specializing in sages.



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Celebrity Salvias: 10 Hot Heatwave Hybrids from Australia

Posted: Friday, February 13, 2015
Synopsis: Waterwise landscapes don't have to be cactus gardens if you grow leafy, colorful drought-resistant Salvias, such as Australian Heatwave™ Mountain Sages, which are crosses of Salvia microphylla and S. greggii. Hybridizers Howard Bentley and Steve Eggleton of Plant Growers Australia used these tough American and Mexican native plants to create their series. One goal was to aid water conservation during their nation's hot, dry summers. All 10 varieties are available from the FBTS online Salvia nursery.

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Dividing Herbaceous Perennial Salvias

Posted: Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Synopsis:

Overgrown herbaceous perennial Salvias need to be divided into multiple smaller plantings. In this video, Flowers by the Sea horticulturist and co-owner Kermit Carter demonstrates how to split perennials, which are plants that die to ground in cold weather but return annually. Many perennial Salvias with basal, rosette foliage have roots that spread to form clumps of multiple plants. Carter says that breaking a clump into smaller pieces is similar to working a jigsaw puzzle; find the clump's crowns and you find the division points. Carter demonstrates how to complete the task quickly using simple tools, such as your fingers and a serrated bread knife. He removes dead foliage and spent soil to ready the plants for replanting in quality potting mix. Then he explains how to encourage root growth by placing the pots in partial sun so soil doesn't get too dry.

Dividing Herbaceous Perennial Salvias is part of the Views from the Garden video series published in the FBTS Everything Salvias blog. Flowers by the Sea is a horticultural farm and an online, mail order Salvia nursery.



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Getting Started: How Much Sun Salvias Need

Posted: Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Synopsis: Answering the question of how much sunlight Salvias need is dependent on the lands and conditions in which they originated. Also called true sages, Salvias may range from full sun to full shade species. But many prefer a combination of sun and shade. Flowers by the Sea is an online, mail-order nursery where you can buy hundreds of different sages.

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Getting Started: Annual, Perennial and Shrub Sages

Posted: Thursday, February 5, 2015
Synopsis: For beautiful floral display and refreshing greenery, every yard needs a combination of annual bedding plants, perennials and shrubs. Salvias provide a feast of landscaping possibilities. Flowers by the Sea explains all the different types of Salvias, including subshrubs, biennials and tree-like Salvias

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Getting Started: USDA Plant Hardiness Zones

Posted: Monday, February 2, 2015
Synopsis: USDA Plant Hardiness Zones aid in selecting Salvia perennials and shrubs that save gardeners money by re-emerging each spring to bloom again. Flowers by the Sea, an online, mail-order nursery specializing in Salvias can help you select the best ones for your USDA zone.

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Growing Salvia from Seed at FBTS

Posted: Friday, January 30, 2015
Synopsis:

In this video, Flowers by the Sea horticulturist and co-owner Kermit Carter explains a simple method for starting Salvias from seed. First, he mixes a pinch each of two powdered inoculants into enough potting soil for a plant. Carter explains that the inoculants combat bacterial diseases, strengthen roots and aid transfer of nutrients from the potting soil, which is a soilless mix containing peat, perlite and biofungicides. He places the soil in a short, 3 1/2-inch container and tamps it down gently so the pot is about half full. Next, he adds an inch of lava gravel mixed with perlite to improve drainage so seedlings won't rot. The final steps include scattering seeds on the lava mix, then applying an ultra-thin layer of horticultural grit, such as crushed granite, on top before watering. The grit keeps the seeds in place but allows sunlight to penetrate so they germinate.

FBTS Growing Salvia from Seed is part of the Views from the Garden video series published in the Everything Salvias blog of Flowers by the Sea, a horticultural farm and an online, mail order plant nursery.



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Types of Bees Working in Your Garden

Posted: Thursday, January 29, 2015
Synopsis: America buzzes with bee diversity, including 4,000 native species and many types of nonnative honeybees. Flowers by the Sea details the variety and value of our imperiled bees. This is the second article in a two-part series focused on identifying and understanding bees, becoming aware of threats to their survival and noting ways gardeners can protect these tiny wildlife. It includes tips on how to avoid bee stings.

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Sage Experts: Richard & Bracey Tiede Nurture Salvias & Community

Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2015
Synopsis: Love of gardening is partly about love of nurturance. Some gardeners nurture far more than their home landscapes; that's the case with Silicon Valley retirees Richard and Bracey Tiede. Through avid volunteerism in organizations such as the Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County, Western Horticultural Society and Pacific Horticulture Society, they are helping to popularize drought-tolerant Salvias and shape sustainable gardening practices in the West -- a part of the country constantly facing drought.

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The Not-So-Secret Lives of Honeybees

Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2015
Synopsis: It's no secret that Honeybees are American immigrants. Yet along with native bees, they descended from meat-eating wasps. All bees make food and flowers possible through pollination. This is the first article in a four-part Bees in the Garden series in the Everything Salvias blog of Flowers by the Sea. The series focuses on identifying and understanding bees, becoming aware of threats to their survival and noting ways gardeners can protect these tiny wildlife.

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Cultivating Color: 15 Plants in Pantone Combos for 2015

Posted: Sunday, January 4, 2015
Synopsis: Pantone color corporation's 2015 spring designer colors can inspire garden design, including the company's color of the year -- a red-brown shade of the wine called Marsala. FBTS suggests 15 plants in seven combinations of Salvias and companion species, based on the 2015 Pantone Fashion Color Report, to help you shake up color in your landscape. We include water-loving choices as well as drought-resistant plants.

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Cultivating Color: Tracking the Elusive History of Autumn & Mountain Sage Warm Pastel Hybrids -- Part I

Posted: Saturday, January 3, 2015
Synopsis: Whether planned or accidental, hybrids happen. This is especially true among the closely related Southwestern and Mexican species of Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) and Mountain Sage (S. microphylla). They are native to different areas of the Southwest and Mexico, but cross freely when they meet. This story is the first installment in a two-part series initiating our Cultivating Color series. It involves North Carolina Salvia specialist Dr. Richard F. Dufresne, who has helped us track the history of warm-colored S. x jamensis hybrids in the Autumn/Mountain Sage group.

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Sassy Sage Holiday Cooking

Posted: Thursday, December 25, 2014
Synopsis: Nothing says holidays like the fragrance of sage coming from the kitchen. It has even inspired writers, such as newspaper columnist and mystery novelist Denise Hamilton. Sage is the stuff of musky perfumes, fragrant Christmas candles and great homecooked meals cooking in the kitchen. It wraps us in the warmth as well as the chill of the season.

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Ask Mr. Sage: How to Choose Plants for Microclimates

Posted: Friday, November 28, 2014
Synopsis: Even in a small yard, you can have more than one climate. These variations are called microclimates. This article talks about how airflow may create microclimates in the yard, such as chilly areas near fences. It suggests ways to troubleshoot these problem areas and to make the best planting choices for them. Ask Mr. Sage answers questions based on calls and emails that Flowers by the Sea receives from customers.

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Portraits in Gardening: Michael and Kathi Rock's Hummingbird Journey

Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Synopsis: A wedding gift led to Kathi Johnson Rock and Michael Rock's passion for hummingbirds. These Wisconsin birders offer tips and plant suggestions for hummingbird gardeners at FBTS. Although now known as Madison's "Hummingbird People," the Rocks aren't ornithologists or biologists. They are home gardeners and customers of Flowers by the Sea who discovered the power of nectar-rich Salvias and companion plants to fuel hummingbird migration. This article includes a list favorite hummingbird plants found in the Rocks' gardens.

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Ask Mr. Sage: First-Aid for Salvia Frost Damage

Posted: Thursday, November 20, 2014
Synopsis: Harsh winter weather in areas that normally have mild conditions can bring unwelcome surprises, including the death of favorite plants. This article talks about how and when to remediate frost damage to favorite Salvias in warmer USDA Cold Hardiness Zones. It concludes with a sidebar about a harmful cold snap in California's Bay Area that killed plants as well as birds in 1972 and which changed planting choices at the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature that is based on topics raised in calls and emails we receive at Flowers by the Sea.

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

Posted: Friday, November 7, 2014
Synopsis: Ask Mr. Sage answers questions based on calls and emails that Flowers by the Sea receives. This one concerns how to select plants when you move to a different USDA cold hardiness zone, such as in a warmer climate.

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Ask Mr. Sage: How Should I Space Salvias When Planting

Posted: Monday, October 27, 2014
Synopsis: By spacing Salvias properly when planting, you avoid problems caused either by overcrowding or leaving too much space around individual plants. Most Salvias are healthier with good air circulation. Crowding leads to the spread of fungal diseases and pests, such as spider mites. Too wide of spacing may cause branches to break in high winds. By paying attention to plant measurements before planting, you can create a good spacing plan. Ask Mr. Sage is a Q&A feature based on topics raised in calls and emails to FBTS.

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Ask Mr. Sage: How to Prevent Root Disease in Plants for Dry Gardens

Posted: Sunday, October 19, 2014
Synopsis: Learn how to prevent root rot and keep dry-garden Salvias healthy by providing optimum growing conditions and avoiding overwatering. Ask Mr. Sage is a Q&A feature based on topics raised in calls and emails to Flowers by the Sea. This one, which concerns a Salvia species that is drought resistant and native to a dry climate, considers how to identify and prevent rot caused by a complex of soil pathogens that attack when roots.

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Beneficial Insects at Flowers by the Sea

Posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Synopsis: Beneficial insects help control destructive insects in greenhouses and gardens. Flowers by the Sea uses beneficials to keep plants free of pests and to avoid use of harmful pesticides. FBTS is a horticultural farm in Northern California specializing in hundreds of ornamental Salvia species. In this video, FBTS horticulturist and co-owner Kermit Carter talks about the use of predatory mites called Persimilis and Fallacis to attack plant-eating spider mites and Encarsia wasps to control whiteflies. Carter shows how a tiny box from an insectary contains thousands of helpful insects, including ladybugs, which keep his farm free of pests. The microscopically small predatory mites come packaged with bean leaves that make it easy to distribute them in the garden. Paper strips for overhead hanging contain the wasp eggs. This video is part of the FBTS blog series Views from the Garden.

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Sage Experts: How Dr. Dufresne Became the Sultan of Salvia

Posted: Thursday, October 9, 2014
Synopsis: A chance encounter with Pineapple Sage led organic chemist Dr. Richard F. Dufresne to become one of America's leading Salvia researchers. Sage Experts focuses on specialists -- both professionals and amateurs -- who have helped popularize the Salvia genus. Dufresne's life course changed the day he visited Rhode Island's Biodynamic Meadowbrook Herb Farm. The study of chemistry had already helped him to emerge from childhood confusion caused by ADHD. Discovering the heady pineapple fragrance of Salvia elegans at Meadowbrook gave him a cause.

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