(How-Dry-I-Am Hell Strip Mix) We give this hell strip collection the blue ribbon for drought resistance and intense blueness. Its lavender, sky blue and purple flowers place the How-Dry-I-Am Hell Strip Mix solidly in the blue spectrum. Although cool looking, it's made for heat in USDA zones 9 and beyond.
Honeybees find plentiful nectar and pollen to buzz about amid this combo of Mexican and Middle Eastern sages that includes a total of seven plants. By purchasing these plants as a group, you receive discount pricing. The mix includes:
• Snowflake Sage (Salvia chionophylla) from Mexico
• Coahuila Sage (Salvia coahuilensis) from Mexico
• Two-lip Spotted Sage (Salvia indica) from Iran, Iraq, Palestine and Turkey and
• Hairy Sage (Salvia villosa) from Mexico.
Comparing these sages may cause you to silently sing, "One of these plants is not like the other" off and on. For example, all can be grown as groundcovers except for S. indica, and all are loved by pollinators, excluding S. chionophylla. Put them together, and you combine all their capabilities in one garden, including the fragrance that some bring to the mix.
Hell strips are sorry excuses for landscaping, such as dry, weedy patches of grass between sidewalk and roadway. They are parts of the landscape that often are difficult to reach with a garden hose.
We've adopted the term for combos featuring some of our prettiest yet toughest waterwise plants for dry, full-sun conditions. All FBTS hell strip gardens contain plants about 30 inches tall or less in order to meet municipal rules about good sightlines to the street.
The How-Dry-I-Am Hell Strip Mix covers an area roughly 4 feet wide by 8 feet long. It leaves sufficient space between plants for healthy aeration when mature and allows the addition of equally drought-resistant succulents, such as sedums, and other low growing, low water plants.
This is an excellent mix for dry gardens, where it contributes lush growth.
(Wooly Canary Island Sage) The pale magenta, parrot-beak flowers of this sage, supported by deeper magenta bracts, heat up the landscape. But when you get close, it may be the velvety texture of the foliage that makes you sigh.
This fragrant, heat-tolerant Canary Island Sage has dense white hairs covering the underside of its leaves. The hairs help the drought-resistant foliage to conserve moisture. However, Wooly Canary Island Sage appreciates average watering based on your local conditions.
Although a shrub at the warmer end of its USDA cold hardiness range, Wooly Canary Island Sage is an herbaceous perennial in its cooler zones. Either way, it is long blooming.
Due to its height and dramatic good looks, this sage can take center stage in a sunny Salvia garden or act as a tall screen. Honeybees love it.
(Candelabra Spanish Sage) Tall, well-branched spikes display large two-tone blue flowers above a compact shrubby mass of attractive, furry white leaves. When in bloom, this compact, drought-resistant native of Spain will awe every visitor to your garden.
Candelabra Spanish Sage is a rare beauty that does well in warm, dry locations and blooms abundantly from mid-summer through fall. It does well as a compact container plant or can grow up to 6 feet tall in the ground. We also highly recommend it as a border plant and for cut-flower gardens.
(Caucasus Sage) This hardy ground cover sage grows 4 to 12 inches tall and 12 inches wide. The velvety white fur of its foliage aids moisture retention. Its soft, royal purple flowers make it stand out. We think this Salvia deserves to spread far and wide.
A tough native of the Caucasus Mountains of central Asia, it survives the freezing temperatures of Zone 5, forming a tight mat that withstands light traffic. It blooms in early summer and again in fall. Plant this beauty in well-drained soil, but don't pamper it; Caucasus Sage grows well in harsh environments.
This is one of the shortest Salvias we grow and makes a fine border edging or rock garden plant. We highly recommend its use as a ground cover, so we offer a discount for larger orders.
Here is a great blog article about this plant.
(Cedros Island Sage) From the Island of Cedars off the coast of Baja California Sur comes this delightful xeric sage with deep violet-blue flowers and silvery foliage. The square-shaped, 1-inch-long leaves are densely covered with short white hairs providing moisture retention and a velvety texture.
This is a gem for xeric, full-sun gardens. It is easy to grow if you understand the conditions on Cedros Island, which are dry, hot and generally sunny. In their mountain-forest ecosystem, the minimal water that these plants receive is largely from occasional fog. So keep this plant mostly dry, give it perfect drainage and don't shade it if possible. Your reward will be a lovely edging plant, small-scale ground cover or a short but dramatic container plant.
This Salvia is rare to find in cultivation; we are very happy to be able to supply this lovely plant.
(Silver Germander Sage) With its compact habit, brilliant silver-white leaves and large, sky blue flowers, this is an outstanding heat-tolerant choice for dry, sunny gardens. We consider this to be one of the finest short ground covers for these conditions.
Grow Silver Germander Sage in full sun and well-drained, loamy soil where you can see it up close. Expect explosive blooming in the summer and fall when the weather warms and settles.
We highly recommend this rarely seen variety of the green-leafed Germander Sage.
(Marine Blue Sage) The name and origin of this fine cultivar has long been in dispute. It may be a clone or hybrid of the Mexican plant Salvia chamaedryoidesvar.isochroma. It is one of the prettiest, strongest sages we grow.
Our Marine Blue Sage blooms almost nonstop, producing long spikes of small dark blue flowers marked with bee lines that help lead pollinators into the blossoms. The leaves are small, wrinkled and wooly with silver-white tops and greenish undersides. In a sunny spot, the plant forms a tidy mat of ground cover 18 inches tall and 36 inches wide.
Grow Marine Blue Sage in hot, somewhat dry locations where you can see it up close. It's guaranteed to attract the eye. We predict that the popularity of this drought-resistant sage will increase as it becomes more widely known.
(Snowflake Sage) Wiry, trailing stems of small white leaves make this plant look like fresh snowfall. Numerous, small, sky blue flowers with prominent bee lines further add to the cooling look. This dry-garden plant is native to the mountains of the Chihuahuan desert of North Central Mexico.
Just 6 inches tall and spreading to 36 inches, this is a perfect ground cover. However, we like it best spilling over the edge of a mixed planter or in a hanging basket. It can take a bit of shade in hot areas, but is at its best in full sun. Plant it in rich, well drained soil.
We suspect that this species may be hardy in the warmest parts of Zone 6 when planted in very well-drained soil and winter mulched. We highly recommend it.
(Blue Turkish Sage) Large velvety gray-green to white leaves in loose rosettes give this sage a distinctive look as does the celestial violet-blue of its flowers. The blossoms seem much too large for this short sage and its thin, candelabra-branched flower spikes.
Native to Iran and Turkey, it is drought-resistant and a fine choice for warm, dry spots. It grows slowly but is long-lived and tough.
Blue Turkish Sage is perfect for use in a rock garden, on a slope, as part of a perennial border or in a dry garden. We highly recommend it as a container plant situated in a warm spot.
Important Tips: This species appreciates limey soil and tolerates the cooler temperatures of Zone 6.
(Jerusalem Sage) This lovely herbaceous perennial is native to Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank. Its clear pink flowers transition at times to a pink highlighted with violet lines and dots. Prominent glandular hairs on the buds, bracts and floral stems exude a fragrance that is delightful on a warm day.
"Hierosolymitana" is related to the Greek word "hieros," which means holy and the Latin name for Jerusalem, "Hierosolyma." Palestinian Arabs sometimes use its leaves as a food wrap, similar to grape leaves. Jerusalem Sage needs full sun. Heat and drought tolerant, it seems to prefer being a bit dry.
A short species that works well as a groundcover or border plant, Jerusalem Sage forms a basil rosette of mid-green leaves that gradually spread about 18 inches. It blooms on and off throughout the growing season and seems especially generous in spring and fall.
(Yugoslavian Cut Leaf Sage) This is a rare Baltic steppe plant that grows beautifully in sunny locations with little water and excellent drainage. It is endemic to a the Orlova Brdo region of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo and Serbia border the FYRM, which adopted its lengthy name to avoid confusion with the Macedonian states of Greece.
The fuzzy, pale blue-to-violet flowers of Yugoslavian Cut Leaf Sage hang upside down. In the right light, their fuzziness gives them a halo-like look. They are cupped by rosy green calyxes and accented by two kinds of mid-green foliage.
The basal leaves of Salvia jurisicii are ovate and scalloped. Whorls of deeply lobed, needle-shaped leaves punctuate the flower stems, giving the plant a feathery look from a distance.
This clump-forming, petite perennial tolerates heat, cold and drought while also discouraging hungry deer. It thrives in rock gardens as well as containers with gravelly soil.
(Wooly Arabian Sage) "Radiant" is the word that garden writer and Salvia specialist Betsy Clebsch uses to describe the halo of white hairs covering the foliage and calyxes of Salvia lanigera.
Tiny, deep purple flowers contrast dramatically with gray-green, deeply lobed leaves and the plant's overall silvery look. The fuzzy hairs help conserve moisture in low-water environments. The plant's essential oils, which make it pleasantly aromatic, are currently the focus of medical research on antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
Wooly Arabian Sage is native to desert and coastal areas throughout the Middle East including Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Israel and Turkey. French clergyman Jean-Louis Marie Poiret (1755-1834), a botanist and plant explorer for France's King Louis XVI, described the sage in 1817. However, this is a rare plant in commercial horticulture.
Wooly Arabian Sage is an herbaceous perennial in areas with warm winters. Yet it returns even when grown as an annual, because it reseeds freely. In its native lands, Wooly Arabian Sage can reach up to a foot tall with branches that curve upward like a candelabra. However, it's often more petite elsewhere and works well tucked between other, taller plants.
(Giant Purple Desert Sage) It’s best to plant this flamboyant native of the Southwest in spring or summer. However, once established, it tolerates winters from USDA Zones 5 to 9. Purple tubular flowers and burgundy bracts flare up its 10-inch flower spikes like flames on this softly rounded shrub.
Fragrant, drought resistant and heat tolerant, this is a sage that isn’t particular about soils as long as they drain well. Give this shrub lots of sunshine and little water for best performance. We have learned by experience that this species grows best where there are definite seasons, and where the winters are not particularly wet. They thrive in Denver, and languish in Los Angeles.
Blue Flame’s improbably lush flowers are offset by mid-green foliage. It does well in dry, gravelly gardens as a groundcover, border or pathway edging and is just right for a native garden focusing on the Southwest or a wide variety of American native species.
Expect Blue Flame to grow up to 36 inches tall and 24 inches wide and to flower from summer to fall. Expect to fall in love with it; certainly butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds do. Luckily, deer avoid it.
Thanks for the beautiful photo go to high-altitude plant expert Panayoti Kelaidis, senior curator and director of outreach at Denver Botanic Gardens.
If you live in suburbs or rural areas where deer plunder gardens, Salvias (sages) can be part of your plan for discouraging these hungry visitors. Here are some tips.
Xeric plants are excellent for water conservation. They grow well in dry gardens with little to no supplemental watering once established. In fact, overwatering can harm these plants, which are native to dry environments such as deserts and chaparral.
At Flowers by the Sea, we identify all xeric plants with a blue plant marker that warns against overwatering. Here are some tips for growing and understanding our xeric, or blue tag, plants:
1) In a humid region, you may find it difficult to grow plants native to semi-arid and arid environments. Yet xeric plants may succeed if you have a persistently dry area, such as under a roof overhang or in the shelter of a tree.
2) Xeric plants are excellent for locations far from garden hoses, such as along sidewalks -- areas often referred to as "hellstrips."
3) Shipping is hard on xeric plants, which suffer from confinement in small containers as well as boxes. You may see some mold, spots on leaves or withered foliage when they arrive. But xeric plants perk up with proper care while hardening off in partial shade before planting.
4) When amending soil before planting, remember that xeric plants not only need excellent drainage but also flower better in low fertility soil. Fertilize sparingly and use a mix with more phosphorous than nitrogen to encourage flowering and discourage lax overgrowth of foliage.
5) Organic matter, such as compost, is an excellent soil amendment for xeric plants, because it keeps their roots healthy by improving aeration and drainage.
6) When your xeric plants are established, water infrequently to encourage deep root growth and to avoid fungal problems. However, it's a good idea to gently spray dust off foliage about once a week.