These are species that grow as woody shrubs and keep their foliage year round.
Pruning is both an art and a science. It takes practice, experience and learning from your mistakes to become a proficient pruner. The pruning information about this plant should be considered as a guideline for getting started. Your particular climate, soils, watering and fertility schedules, sun exposure, space requirements and weather are all factors that influence how and when you choose to prune. We’re providing a starting place for you, and over time you will learn the particularities of this plant in your garden. Don’t be afraid to get started – Salvias, in general, are quick to rebound if inappropriately pruned.
Deadheading – the removal of spent flowers, is a practice that will always benefit the plant’s health and appearance. This can be done at any time. Pruning involves removal of entire stems of spent growth. Becoming "spent" means that flowering stems stop blooming and begin going to seed.
(Wild Cotton) From the winter rainfall area of southern Africa, this shrubby and unusual Milkweed is especially common in the Western Cape region. An especially tough plant, we have noted that the Monarch larvae that migrate through our area seem to prefer this over all other species.
The endangered Monarch butterfly is particularly drawn to the milkweed family ( Asclepiadaceae), which includes this plant.
Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweeds, because those are the only plants their caterpillars will eat. The roughness of fuzzy milkweed foliage makes it easier for eggs and chrysalises to cling to the plants. Monarch caterpillars consume powerful chemicals in the leaves protecting them as babies and adults against predators for whom the chemicals are toxic. Perhaps it is these chemicals that make deer avoid the plant.
This particular milkweed is a shrubby perennial in USDA zones where winter temperatures are warmer. In zones with colder winters, it works well as a bedding plant. When grown as an annual, Wild Cotton can be cut back in late autumn and moved indoors to overwinter. But don't forget to reduce watering and place it in a cool, but sunny location.
Unlike Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), this species doesn't have a taproot. This means that it is easier to control the plant's spread.
In the past few years, much has been written about the problems as well as the benefits that Tropical Milkweed species present for Monarch butterflies. Butterflies adore these lush bloomers, which offer plentiful nectar and provide what is becoming scarce -- lodging for Monarch larvae.
However, where these plants persist outdoors during winter, Monarchs may not complete their migration to Mexico. This creates a number of difficulties, including illness for the butterflies. The best way to avoid this problem in warm regions is to cut all species of Tropical Milkweeds to the ground during autumn.
(California Drought Action Pack) The drought in California is a real challenge to gardeners and to the wildlife that depends increasingly on us for survival. We want to help.
This package consists of Salvias, Agastache, Kniphofia, Asclepias and other wildlife-friendly & drought resistant plants that will grow, bloom and be happy in dry gardens. We will personally select three each of four different plants, taking into account your particular climate and location. These are some of our top sellers, offered as a discounted group. We can't promise any specific plant, but you'll be excited when you unpack your box!
We're all concerned about the declining habitats and food sources for hummingbirds, butterflies and bees - and by planting these in your garden you will be doing a great service to our animal friends that being stressed by the lack of flowers. Because of the large number of suitable varieties we grow, we'll plan to send along a balanced, long blooming mix. You can plant now and enjoy these beauties for years to come, even if the drought continues.
Some of the plants
We also include a detailed Planting Guide, to insure your success.
We offer this for the Fall planting season only with free shipping anywhere in California. You can choose your desired shipping date during checkout.
Please let us know in the "Customer Notes" section of the shopping cart if you have any color preferences or blooming season restrictions. We guarantee to pick out some of the very best drought tolerant varieties we grow for you. Please, this is for California residents only.
(Velvet Centaurea) Lacy, velvety foliage gives this tough shrub its common name. The globular, thistle-like flowers are lavender to fuchsia pink and contrast elegantly with the silvery green of the leaves.
Centaurea gymnocarpa thrives with little water. It tolerates heat and drought, is long blooming and attracts honeybees and butterflies but not deer. This shrub can grow tall. It is a treasure for the dry garden or wildlife friendly landscape as well as container planting.
The Centaurea genus is also known as (Centaurium . Some of its species are used in folk remedies, including Centaury (Centaurium erythraea. The genus name comes from Greek mythology, which says that a centaur discovered the medicinal uses of Centaury. Gymnocarpa is Latin for "naked fruit" and concerns the plant's seed.
Velvet Centaurea is native to Italy and requires full sun. Sometimes it's called "Dusty Miller" due to its dusty look. However, that name is more frequently applied to Jacobia maritima, a much shorter bedding plant with heavily lobed, but less lacy foliage and tiny, yellow flowers.
Please note that this is the garden variety of Centaurea gymnocarpa and not the wild species.
(Texas Craglily) Echeandia texensis shines in many ways. First, the delicate looking yet tough flowers are a rich shade of gold. Other stellar traits include its ability to tolerate clay soils, heat, a moderate amount of winter cold and drought.
This perennial's common name might mislead you into thinking it is a canyon plant. However, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, it's native to clay soils in the dunes and arroyos of the Rio Grande River Valley of southern Texas. This includes locations on the Gulf Coast.
Sometimes it is called Mexican Hat Lily due to the flowers looking a bit like upside down, floppy sombreros with tall crowns.
The scientific name is also a bit confusing. Although some sources refer to Texas Craglily as belonging to the lily family (Liliaceae), others say it belongs in the asparagus family (Asparagaceae). Instead of bulbs, it grows from corms.
Despite its drought resistance, E. texensis thrives with average watering based on local conditions and is known to adapt well to the moister climate of the Southeast.
Finally, it's worth knowing that this is an excellent butterfly plant that does its best to discourage deer.
Although used in cooking, this mild tasting oregano is particularly ornamental. Its gold-green leaves turn bright gold in autumn adding a glow to herb gardens, borders and container plantings. In summer, it shoots up 20-inch-tall spikes of pink flowers.
Norton’s Gold is a hybrid, but the species is native to Greece and Turkey. This short variety rises up 3 to 6 inches and spreads 24 inches or more. So it works well as a fragrant, drought-resistant groundcover. It's also cold tolerant and grows well in USDA Zones 6 to 9.
Give this perennial partial to full shade or a combination of morning sun and afternoon shade. Any soil will do as long as it is well drained. Regular watering is fine, but as with so many herbs, Norton’s Gold Oregano thrives in dry conditions.
Historically, oreganos have been used as in herbal remedies for problems including respiratory difficulties, heartburn and urinary tract afflictions. Oregano oil also is used in insect repellant; in the garden, oregano plants deter many garden pests while attracting honeybees and butterflies. You might say they are golden.
(Prairie Sage) Native to a large part of the central United States, this perennial Salvia is a beloved wildflower, delighting us with large cerulean blue flowers. Hummingbirds and butterflies love it as well.
In full sun with good soil, this sage provides a spectacular floral display from late summer through fall. We like to plant it among other perennials and shrubs, where it can poke its head out here and there. It's a reliable addition to any garden designed to attract pollinators and the human eye.
(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.
(Greek Sage) Most of the dried culinary sage sold in the United States is Greek Sage. Frescoes on the island of Crete, dating to 1400 BC, depict this plant used by the Phoenicians and Greeks for cooking and medicine. It is an ancient and beloved friend of mankind.
In the garden, Greek Sage provides a pleasant lavender fragrance, especially on warm days, and has spikes of pink-to-lavender flowers. Similar to most culinary sages, it loves full sun and well-drained soil. However, it tolerates moist ground. This compact plant, which grows 24 inches tall and 18 inches wide, is a good choice for fragrant borders and patio containers as well as kitchen gardens.
Grow this drought-resistant, heat-tolerant plant in well-drained soil that is on the dry side. Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds will thank you with frequent visits.
Although some cooks find Salvia oficinalis culinary sages tastier, Salvia fruticosa is easier to grow. It comprises 50 to 95% of the commercial market. We think it offers an interesting change of taste.
(Big Grape Sage) This lavender-flowered native of Northern Mexico resembles Salvia melissodora (Grape Scented Sage), but is bigger and also has larger leaves and flowers. It's a great companion plant for its little brother, which shares the same cultural needs and affinity for Zones 8 to 10. Both bloom from summer into fall.
Similar to Salvia melissodora, this sage is used by the indigenous Tarahumara people of Chihuahua, Mexico, as a medicinal herb. Another commonality is that the flowers smell like ripe grapes, a fact that young children enjoy confirming. In addition to the fragrance of its flowers, Big Grape Sage has appealing leaves with furry, white undersides.
Give this heat-tolerant Salvia a sunny, warm spot in well-drained soil. Then watch it grow without fuss. Although drought tolerant, it enjoys regular watering. Big Grape Sage is a good choice as a mid-height groundcover or in shrubby and herbaceous perennial borders.
Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds highly recommend this sage, but deer avoid it.
(Fruit Sage) Also known as Apple Sage, this is an extremely drought-resistant plant. Its common names come from the small round fruit-like galls that an insect creates on its branches on the island of Crete where it is native to dry slopes.
The galls develop when a small gallfly, also called a gall wasp, invades the sage's branches -- something that also happens to Salvia fruticosa in its Grecian homeland. Some people eat these tart-flavored galls raw and others use them to create a sweet conserve. Herbalists also use the leaves as a folk remedy, such as in tea.
However, in USDA Zones 8 to 10, this fragrant, heat-tolerant sage is simply an elegant shrub that must be grown in dry soil. Excess water during the growing season leads to a rapid demise. Salvia pomifera thrives in full sun, even in dry clay soils. Yet it prefers ground that drains well.
From summer into fall, its pale white-to-lavender flowers attract honeybees and butterflies to dry gardens. Use it as a groundcover on a slope, as part of a shrub border or an edging for sunny pathways.
This sage is not common in the United States. We are very happy to be able to recommend it to gardeners in hot, arid regions.
(Mauretania Tingitana Sage) Native to Northern Africa and Saudi Arabia, this sage has a long history of cultivation going back 400 years and weaving throughout various countries in the Middle East and North Africa before arriving in Europe in the 1700s. It was first described scientifically in 1777.
Before the discovery of its Saudi Arabian connection in 1989, the origin of this heat- and drought-tolerant perennial was a hotly debated mystery. Was it native to Egypt, Syria, Aleppo, Tunis or Tangier?
Tingitana grows in a wide range of conditions and is particularly useful as a border or cut-flower plant in dry gardens. It branches freely and features flower spikes with large numbers of 1-inch-long, bicolor, yellow and lavender blossoms. The roseleaf-type foliage is lime green, heavily textured and fragrant.
Given full sun and well drained soil, this lovely sage forms a compact mound that also looks pretty in patio containers. This plant deserves to find a home in more gardens.
(Purple Stem Sage) Deep purple stems and cobalt blue flowers with pronounced white beelines and dusky gray calyxes cause this sage to command attention.
Aside from knowing that Purple Stem Sage was collected in the Northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, little can be said with certainty about the taxonomy of this mystery hybrid Salvia. What we can say definitively is that it is easy to grow, flowers abundantly and does well in heat with limited water.
Purple Stem Sage is a waist-high, upright subshrub that combines tender herbaceous stems with woody growth. It looks particularly pretty planted in front of silvery leafed sages.
This drought-resistant sage does well in full sun to partial shade. It needs soil with good drainage and fits in nicely with California native sages.
(Sardinian Sage) This is another must-have Salvia for mild, Mediterraneon climate gardens. It has elegant foliage and lovely, rosy lavender flowers. Sardinian Sage spreads non-invasively as an herbaceous perennial and almost never stops blooming for us on the coast of Northern California.
When in bloom, this full sun plant is a magnet for honeybees. Historically, it has also attracted followers of folk remedies and has been used in Europe to ease fevers.
Similar to but denser than Salvia sclarea (Clary Sage), Sardinian Sage is native to the island of Sardinia and was one of our top 10 new plants for 2010. Although our photo doesn't do it justice, this is a lovely plant that looks great in perennial borders, dry gardens and containers.
(Mid-East Sage) Native to the mountains shared by Israel and Lebanon, this fragrant sage is drought resistant, heat tolerant and long blooming. Its tidy, basal foliage rises up and spreads only about 18 inches, but it has tall flower spikes.
Sometimes called Sticky Sage, its scientific name refers to the stickiness of the plant's calyxes, which cup small, dusky pink flowers that bloom spring into summer. Its strap-shaped leaves form a dense rosette.
Salvia viscosa is easy to grow. It is an efficient, heat-tolerant groundcover and is perfect for dry gardens in USDA Zones 8 to 10. Combine it in a mixed border with the deep purple flowers of Salvia coahuilensis, which is similarly short and has the same cultural needs of full sun and well-drained soil. Although Salvia viscosa can get by with little watering, it appreciates average moisture based on local conditions.
(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.
Fragrance as well as color attracts butterflies. However, they don't have noses. Instead, butterflies smell and taste with their antennas and feet. Here are some ways to attract them:
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.