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Drought Praise: 5 Hot Red Salvias for Hummingbirds

Aug 4, 2015

Drought Praise: 5 Hot Red Salvias for Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds love the nectar of Salvias, particularly varieties in red, which they can see but bees can't. Also, unlike most birds, hummingbirds can taste sweets and seek out flowers that produce lots of sugary nectar.

However, nectar can be difficult to come by during drought. Flowers that withstand dry conditions and produce plentiful sweet stuff are important. The Salvia genus is well known for its bright flowers, rich nectar and many drought-tolerant plants.

We grow lots of hummingbird Salvias at Flowers by the Sea. Here are some hot red favorites for xeric -- low water -- gardens. All are subshrubs, which means they combine some woodiness with soft herbaceous perennial growth. 

Xeric Salvias for Hummingbird Gardens
All of these Salvias are great choices for container planting. Three tolerate winter chill (Zones 5 and 6), and all thrive in summer heat. Similar to most sages, none tempt deer.

Vermilion Bluffs® Mexican Sage (Salvia darcyi 'Pscarl') Zones 5 to 9

  • Blooms summer to fall
  • 48 inches tall and 36 inches wide in bloom
  • Wrinkly, mid-green foliage
  • Full sun
  • Hummingbirds

Windwalker® Royal Red Salvia (Salvia darcyi x microphylla 'Windwalker') Zones 5 to 9

  • Blooms summer to fall
  • 48 inches tall and 60 inches wide in bloom
  • Mid-green, veined foliage
  • Full sun
  • Honeybees and hummingbirds

Radio Red Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii 'Radio Red') Zones 6 to 9

  • Blooms spring to fall
  • Fine, fragrant, mint-green foliage
  • 18 inches tall and wide in bloom
  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Honeybees and hummingbirds

Honey Rose Mountain Sage (Salvia microphylla 'Honey Rose') Zones 7 to 9

  • Blooms spring to fall
  • Small, veined, mid-green foliage
  • 48 inches tall and 24 inches wide in bloom
  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Honeybees and hummingbirds

Scarlet Spires Sage (Salvia x 'Scarlet Spires') Zones 7 to 9

  • Blooms summer to fall
  • Gray-green foliage
  • 48 inches tall and wide in bloom
  • Full sun 
  • Butterflies, honeybees, hummingbirds

FBTS Catalog Search for Drought Plants
Click this way; click that way. There are many ways to find the information you need about drought-resistant plants in the FBTS online catalog. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Click on the Salvias A to Z category in the thick green menu bar at the top of each page on our website. When the new page opens, access the "water needs" section of our product filters in the left margin. Click on "drought resistant" to open a queue of plants requiring the least water. Then try the "average" filter and search for plants that prefer some supplemental watering but may do well during drought.
  2. Click on the Salvias by Culture category in the menu bar, then open the "drought tolerant" icon. This will show you the broad range of drought-resistant species. 
  3. To find our most drought-tolerant species, click on the Blue Tag Xeric Plants category. Be careful not to overwater them.

More Information 
If you have more questions about any of our plants or about gardening during drought and in dry climates, please contact us. We're glad to help you add color, nectar and hummingbirds to your yard.

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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.