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Salvia cedrosensis


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Salvia cedrosensis

  • White leaves love the heat



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Time to think about Fall Planting
This plant is
Ideal for Fall Planting
Degree of Difficulty
Challenging
Degree of Difficulty
This plant is can be challenging to grow in conditions outside those in which it is found in the wild.
Blue Tag Xeric
Blue Tag Plant
This plant is sensitive to overwatering.

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Description

(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.

Details

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Common name  
Cedros Island Sage
USDA Zones  
9 - 11
Size (h/w/fh)  
24"/36"/36"
Exposure  
Full sun
Soil type  
Well drained
Water needs  
Drought resistant
Pot size  
3 1/2 inch deep pot
Container plant?  
Yes
Our price
10.50

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Here are some guidelines for success with this plant in your garden.
Click on an individual icon for more detailed information.

Exposure

Full sun
Full sun

Garden Uses

Container plant
Container plant

Growing Habit

9 - 11
9 - 11
24 inches tall
24 inches tall
36 inches wide
36 inches wide
Ground cover
Ground cover

Water Needs

Drought resistant
Drought resistant

Blooming Season

Fall blooming
Fall blooming
Summer blooming
Summer blooming

Wildlife

Deer resistant
Deer resistant

Colors

Salvias and their companion plants pop with color. Sweep your eyes from top to the bottom here for an impression of this plant's color combinations. The first row displays blossoms from primary to less dominant shades and includes any contrasting throat color. The second tier is the main hue of leaf-like bracts or calyxes supporting the flowers. Foliage (one or two colors) leafs out in the bottom row.
Primary color - Strong Purplish Blue
RHS# 96C






Throat color - Yellowish white - RHS# 155D




Secondary color - Brilliant Purplish Blue
RHS# 97A



Bract color - Light Greenish Gray
RHS# 188C

Leaf color - Grayish Yellowish Green
RHS# 194B


Second leaf color - Pale Yellowish Green
RHS# 194D



Learn more about how we analyze plant colors
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See other plants with triadic colors
Ready for some pruning?

Evergreen, woody Salvias

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.

Growing Season Pruning

At any time, you can perform cosmetic pruning -- shaping, controlling height and width and removing the oldest wood. Some gardeners periodically remove the oldest stems to encourage fresh new growth.


Dormant Season Pruning

Same as Growing Season.


Check the Views from the Garden section of our Everything Salvias Blog for videos that apply to this plant.

  • Salvia africana-lutea 'Kirstenbosch'

    (Kirstenbosch Golden Sage) This clone of the durable and tough Golden Sage was selected at Kirstenbosch, the famous South African Botanic Garden. It is more vigorous than Golden Sage and often grows larger.

    Young plants are dense with elliptical, woolly gray-green leaves. The 2-to-4-inch floral stems carry whorls of 1-to-2-inch-long bright yellow flowers that age to rusty orange. The flowers look somewhat withered when mature, making them both an attraction and an oddity. This culinary and medicinal plant blooms from early spring sporadically through fall.

    Shear back by 1/3 in late spring to encourage new basal growth. When established, it needs deep watering at least once a month in soil that is, preferably, sandy and loose.

    This is a tough, fragrant, resilient beauty. Similar to many plants from the Cape region, it needs fertilizer applied sparingly and acid-to-neutral, well-drained soil.
    10.50
  • Salvia apiana

    (Sacred White Sage) Bees, hummingbirds and spiritual blessings are all connected to this elegant shrubby sage, which is an important herb to indigenous Californians and deserves a place in every salvia garden. Stiff and almost fleshy, its leaves are tight rosettes of brilliant, silvery white. The flower spikes soar above the foliage, with hundreds of small white-to-lavender flowers that are one of the most important sources of pollen and nectar for pollinators. This Salvia is also the source of leaves for Native American smudge sticks used in purification rituals.

    Slow growing but not difficult, this California native requires good drainage and full sun. In its dry-summer/wet-winter range, it often grows on rocky, south slopes.  Very little water is needed once the plant becomes established.

    Our strain is well adapted to the moist environment of coastal Northern California, and performs well in a wide variety of climates.  We select only the whitest and most compact plants for vegetative propagation, insuring a tidy shrub that will not overgrow its space.

    Historically, Sacred White Sage has been used in medicinal teas and ground into flour for cooking.  We burn the leaves in our home to sweeten and purify the air.  This is a beautiful and powerful plant.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia candelabrum

    (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.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia chamaedryoides var. isochroma

    (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.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia chamaedryoides x ‘Marine Blue’

    (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.

    10.50
  • Salvia clevelandii 'Whirly Blue'

    (Cleveland Sage or California Blue Sage) A California native plant garden is not complete without a Cleveland Sage. This particular cultivar has deeper blue flowers with a purple overlay as well as deep purple calyxes. Due to its height and drought resistance, it is ideal for back of border in a dry garden.

    At 5 feet tall and wide, this plant is also a good xeric screen for fences, boundary lines and separations in your yard. Its tidy dome of fragrant leaves and flowers is rarely without honeybees, butterflies or hummingbirds.

    There is much confusion in the naming and identification of Salvias native to California, especially Cleveland Sage. However, we have done our due diligence and believe that the plant we offer under this name is the one first grown by the Saratoga Horticultural Research Foundation in 1990.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia dominica

    (Dominican Sage) Native to Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, this candelabra-shaped, perennial sage may have inspired the design of the menorah, (Exodus 37:17). It is a tough, drought-resistant plant with silver-haired foliage and bright white flowers that seem to blaze.

    The specific epitaph dominica means "belonging to the Lord."  This medicinal sage has a heavenly fragrance and is used in perfumery, cosmetics and the production of a rare essential oil. Plant it in full sun as a compact border or in a dry garden. It makes a fine groundcover.

    Dominican Sage thrives in poor yet well-drained soil and doesn't require much water.  We have found it to be durable, but it does not tolerate wet, cold winters.  However, the fragrance of this plant on a warm day makes it worth growing as an annual.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia fruticosa

    (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.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia hierosolymitana

    (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.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia lanceolata

    (Rusty Sage)  Named for its leaves shaped like the tips of lances, this nearly care-free, evergreen sage from South Africa has enchanting rusty rose flowers that bloom from fall (spring in its native land) into winter.

    This handsome little bush is found from sea level up to 1,000 feet in the coastal areas of the Cape of Good Hope. its tidy, compact look and ability to withstand drought and heat make this woody sub-shrub a must-have Salvia for any garden with full sun.

    Rusty Sage also needs well-drained soil that is low in organic matter. Grow it as a groundcover, in sunny borders or as part of your kitchen garden. In South Africa, it is used to season fish.

    Occasional, light pruning helps to shape the plant, but isn't necessary. Deep watering once a week during the summer is desirable. However, this sage survives on much less moisture when well established.

    10.50
  • Salvia leucophylla 'Amethyst Bluffs'

    (Giant Spreading California Purple Sage or Giant Spreading California Gray Sage) Looking for a large scale ground cover? One for poor soil, little to no water, howling winds or seriously hot sun? This Salvia leucophylla variety, collected in the wild and close to the ocean at Point Sal near Santa Barbara, may just be the plant for you.

    Commonly known as Purple Sage for its flowers or Gray Sage for its silvery, velvety, foliage, Salvia leucophylla is a hardy Salvia species that is highly regarded for attracting small wildlife including songbirds, which love its tasty seed and the insects it attracts.

    Amethyst Bluffs, which can grow up to 10 feet tall and 15 feet wide, is the largest clone of this species in cultivation. In most gardens it can be counted on being 6 feet tall and wide. It has dark pinkish-purple flowers that bloom in spring.

    Amethyst Bluffs was collected in the wild, close to the ocean at Point Sal near Santa Barbara. It has a wider gardening range than the species, being cold hardy to at least 15 degrees F, it is worth trying in some Zone 7 areas. All this tough & hardy sage requires is well-drained soil and full sun.

    We would use this shrub in the landscape even if it didn't flower, because its long, fuzzy, gray-green leaves with serrated edges are so appealing. Aside from being a great large-scale ground cover that takes minimal care, it is a handsome screen or border plant for dry gardens.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia melissodora

    (Grape Scented Sage) With the grape scent of its pale lavender blossoms and its long history of medicinal use, it is no surprise that this sage is so widely distributed.

    The indigenous Tarahumara people of Northern Mexico have used this sage for centuries to treat a variety of infirmities. For the gardener today, it offers drought resistance and heat tolerance along with fragrance and color.

    Although it can grow up to 6 feet tall in its native habitat, Grape Scented Sage generally averages growth of 3 feet tall and wide in home gardens. Nevertheless, it is mighty in its ability to ensure pollination in your garden because...
     

    Warning!  This is a powerful hummingbird, honeybee and butterfly magnet!


    Another benefit is that although humans and small wildlife find it intoxicating, deer don't.

    For a lovely combination, group the lavender and green of Grape Scented Sage with other plants that have strong blue or yellow flowers and which bloom from summer into fall. Give it full sun and well drained soil.

    In the home garden, it makes a fine screen, border or background planting. It also does well in containers and cut-flower gardens. Despite its ability to get by on little water, it is adaptable to average water areas of the yard in very well drained soil. It's a winner.

     

    10.50
  • Salvia pomifera

    (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.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia scordifolia

    (Scordy Sage) Little is known about this shrubby Ecuadorian native. We're not even sure it is from Ecuador! However, this is another sage that sells itself instantly when seen in bloom. The large clusters of rich, deep violet flowers bloom summer to fall, attracting honeybees and hummingbirds.

    Its dainty, velvety, gray-green foliage makes it look similar to its Southern California relative Grape Scented Sage (Salvia melissodora), but Scordy Sage is easier to grow and, to us, seems stronger in a home garden. All it needs is full sun, good drainage and average watering. It grows well in USDA Zone 7 to 9 gardens.

    This drought-resistant sage is also related to Big Grape Sage (Salvia keerli). At 36 inches tall and wide, Scordy Sage is a ideal for the middle of a border, the edge of a path or any kind of sunny, dry garden.

    Highly recommended.

    11.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia somalensis

    (Somalian Mountain Sage) Large, powder-blue flowers combine with 4-inch-long, furry, lime-green leaves -- a winning combination at bloom time from summer into fall. The flowers are unusual, because they generally grow on the branchlets and the terminal end of each stem.

    This sage from the high-elevation forest lands of Somalia grows well in full sun to partial shade. Although drought tolerant and a good choice for dry gardens, it thrives in normal garden conditions of average, well-drained soil and average watering based on local conditions.

    Somalian Mountain Sage looks pretty in perennial borders and cut-flower gardens where it can grow up to 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Container planting also works well and limits growth.

    Uncommon in US gardens, Salvia somalensis is the subject of research for medical and cosmetic use. However, this is a lovely, long-blooming sage and deserves to be planted more widely in the landscapes of USDA Zones 8 to 11.
    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia villosa

    (Hairy Sage) In 1877, J.G. Schaffner of Germany -- also known as Johann Wilhelm Schaffner -- collected the small, airy looking Salvia villosa while working as a pharmacist in the town of San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

    Perhaps it was the cool powder blue and softly blended white beelines of the half-inch-long flowers that caught his eye. They bloom from summer into fall. Or maybe it was the contrast of the plants fuzzy, silvery gray foliage that made him take a specimen. In time, American botanist Merritt Lyndon Fernald would give the plant its scientific name using the term villosa to indicate its hairy quality.

    Hairy foliage conserves moisture. Salvia villosa is ideal for dry gardens, such as rockeries, due to its excellent drought resistance. It is heat tolerant and grows best in dry climates where it doesn't have to deal with much winter moisture.

    When these conditions are met, this pretty, little sage is a pleasing plant. To help it succeed outside the Southwest, we recommend growing it in a container where it can be sheltered from heavy winter moisture. Give this plant full sun, great drainage and limited water in USDA Zones 8 to 11. That's all it needs.

    Very limited.
    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia x 'Bee's Bliss'

    (Bee's Bliss Sage) If you are looking for a California native sage to use as a groundcover, Bee's Bliss is a fine choice. Low-growing, widespreading and colorful, it is ideal for choking weeds.

    Long-blooming spikes of lavender-colored flowers rise a foot above the mat of fine, fragrant, gray-green foliage that is perennial in warm-winter areas.

    Honeybees and hummingbirds love this hybrid, which was selected in 1989 at the University of California Botanic Garden by California native plant specialist Roger Raiche. Berkeley artist and gardener Marcia Donahue named it.

    Bee's Bliss is likely a cross of California Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla), which is also called California Gray Sage, with either Creeping Sage (Salvia sonomensis ) or Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii).

    This is a superior, drought-resistant groundcover requiring full sun, good drainage and little-to-no water other than what it receives from nature. It's ideal for slopes and native-plant gardens. Claims of cold hardiness vary, but 18 degrees F is a safe bet even though lower temperatures have been reported.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia x 'Celestial Blue'

    (Celestial Blue Sage) Fast growing and adaptable, this sage is a chance hybrid between Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii) -- also called California Blue Sage -- and California Rose Sage (Salvia pachyphylla). It may also be related to California Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla).

    Celestial Blue has lovely royal blue flowers and purple bracts. Sun-loving, heat tolerant and drought resistant, it was discovered at Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery in Southern California.

    This fragrant sage blooms and blooms throughout the heat of summer. Tolerant of everything but wet feet during summer, it withstands winter temperatures as low as 10 degrees F for a short time as well as lows in the 20-degree range for days. 

    Use this pretty plant in tough soils, on banks and in areas where watering is difficult or undesirable.  Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds love it, but deer leave it alone. This cultivar is one of the best Salvias for cut-flower arrangements.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

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Cultivating Color: Pastel Perennial Sages for Xeriscape

Cultivating Color: Pastel Perennial Sages for Xeriscape


Category: Cultivating Color
Posted: Aug 11, 2015 09:52 AM
Synopsis: Not everyone who lives in a dry climate wants a cactus garden. And not all cottage gardens are filled with pansies and peonies. Flowers by the Sea highlights ten tough perennial Salvias in pastels for low-water cottage gardens. The palette of drought-resistant choices includes sages with blue, lavender, peach, pink and yellow flowers for a soothing touch in your landscape.
Getting Started: Salvias for the Southwest

Getting Started: Salvias for the Southwest


Category: Getting Started with Salvias
Posted: Jun 3, 2015 07:31 PM
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.
Cultivating Color: 15 Plants in Pantone Combos for 2015

Cultivating Color: 15 Plants in Pantone Combos for 2015


Category: Cultivating Color
Posted: Jan 4, 2015 04:27 PM
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.
Ask Mr. Sage: How to Water Desert Plants

Ask Mr. Sage: How to Water Desert Plants


Category: Ask Mr. Sage
Posted: Oct 5, 2014 05:25 PM
Synopsis: Overwatering harms desert plants more than underwatering. When growing them, you need to consider the quantity, duration and timing of watering. Excellent soil drainage is also essential. This article talks about how to identify overwatering and establish an effective watering schedule. Ask Mr. Sage is a Q&A feature based on topics raised in calls and emails to FBTS.
Gray and Silver Foliage Lights Up the Landscape Day and Night

Gray and Silver Foliage Lights Up the Landscape Day and Night


Category: Cultivating Color
Posted: Sep 23, 2014 05:49 PM
Synopsis: It isn't easy describing green in the garden. Foliage can span greens so pale they are almost white to blue-greens so deep they murmur the forest primeval. Amid this range, you'll find shimmering silver- and gray-leaf species. To locate these types of Salvias and companion plants in the Flowers by the Sea catalog, please visit our new Gray and Silver Leaf Plants category in our catalog menu at the top of every page on our website. This article includes a small sampler of our selection.
In the Native Garden: 25 Colorful California Salvias Plus a Cousin

In the Native Garden: 25 Colorful California Salvias Plus a Cousin


Category: Everything Salvias Blog
Posted: Jun 17, 2014 08:22 PM
Synopsis: Native plants, including California's many indigenous sages, are like the boys or girls next door who were overlooked until outsiders discovered their good looks and other fine attributes. For the longest time, native species didn’t get respect in home gardening – a sizeable oversight considering that California alone has more than 5,500 native plants. Natives are roughly defined as species that were growing in America before European colonization. Flowers by the Sea cultivates hardy, drought-resistant California Salvias that are native to a broad swath of the West Coast ranging from Northern Baja to Southern Oregon. The California natives detailed here are all drought resistant and many tolerate heat. They are well suited to waterwise, xeriscapic landscapes, including dry gardens in which plants must survive despite almost no supplemental watering.
20 Heavenly Sages and Companions for Hell Strips

20 Heavenly Sages and Companions for Hell Strips


Category: Everything Salvias Blog
Posted: Feb 2, 2014 12:36 PM
Synopsis: Some gardeners call them parking strip or drive-strip gardens. Others bestow the more genteel names of tree-lawn or boulevard garden on these attempts to beautify the scraggly, grassy, weed-ridden verges between sidewalk and street. Then there is the most popular name of all, hell strips, which garden writer and designer Lauren Springer Ogden coined. One colorful solution to the hell strip is to plant short, tough sages (Salvia spp.) and equally drought-resistant companion plants.
Salvia Small Talk: Growing a Native Sage Garden

Salvia Small Talk: Growing a Native Sage Garden


Category: Salvia Small Talk
Posted: Jul 14, 2013 07:19 AM
Synopsis: Most native plant gardens encompass species native to the region or state in which a gardener lives. However, some native gardens -- such as the New England Wild Flower Society's famous Garden in the Woods -- are based on a broad variety of plants native across America.
Xeric Choices: 5 Must-Have Native Salvias for Southern California

Xeric Choices: 5 Must-Have Native Salvias for Southern California


Category: Xeric Choices
Posted: Dec 23, 2012 01:43 PM
Synopsis: Native plants are the best ones for local conditions. But sometimes boundaries designating what is native may be artificial. Here are five outstanding Xeric Salvias for Southern California, including one, not far over the Baja border, that offers intense drought resistance and violet-blue flowers.
I like Amstiad

Hummingbirds love Salvia (sage) nectar and are attracted to it by the bright colors of tubular sage blossoms. In particular, these little whirlybirds can easily spot flowers in the red spectrum, which is prevalent among sages. Here are some hummingbird gardening tips.


  1. Go tubular. Hummingbirds need tubular flowers that are easy for long, thin beaks to access.
  2. Provide lots of color. Think of yourself as a cafeteria manager who needs to provide many tempting choices in order to attract business. Red, pink, orange and purple sages are particularly powerful hummingbird magnets.
  3. Keep your garden blooming. Plant a variety of Salvias based not only on color but also a broad span of bloom times. Many flower from spring into fall. Others are prolific fountains of nectar for shorter seasons. Numerous winter-blooming species are available for areas that are home to hummingbirds year round.
  4. Grow sages native to the Western Hemisphere. Although hummingbirds will take advantage of many kinds of tubular flowering plants, these tiny birds are native to the Western Hemisphere and prefer flowering plants native to their half of the world.
  5. Select Salvia companion plants. Hummingbirds appreciate a variety of favorite tubular-flowered plants.
  6. Plant hummingbird gardens near cover. Trees and bushes surrounding feeding areas provide protection from predators and chilly, rainy weather.
  7. Don't use pesticides. Insects provide protein for hummingbirds, so don't kill these food sources.
  8. Provide water. Hummingbirds frolic in misters and shallow birdbaths.
  9. Supplement plantings with feeder tubes. Change the sugar water every few days and don't add food coloring. Keep the feeders clean, but don't scrub them with soaps or detergents. Here is more feeder care information.
  10. Read more. Our Everything Salvias Blog offers a number of articles about hummingbirds.
Hey, got any greens?

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.


  1. Mask smells that deer like with aromatic sages. Deer and other members of the Cervidae family, such as elk, mostly leave Salvias alone. One theory is that they don't like the fragrance or taste of sage chemicals. Strategically planting sages near vegetable gardens or fruit trees -- elixir to deer -- may prevent consumption.
  2. Grow hedges including Salvias. Prickly hedges, including hairy-leafed Salvias and exceptionally thorny roses, can discourage deer from entering your yard. They don't like the mouth-feel of those textures. Tall hedges also hide strawberry beds and other yummy plantings from view.
  3. Don't overplant one species. Grow a variety of Salvias in case local deer take an unexpected liking to one species of sage.
  4. Fence deer out. Install electric fences or 8-foot wood or metal fences around particularly vulnerable areas. Make sure electric fencing is turned on during the peak feeding seasons of early spring and late fall.
  5. Use motion-detection tools. Install outdoor lighting that is activated by movement.
  6. Let the dogs out. Deer are especially wary of large dogs.
  7. Surround and cover. Wrap tough plastic around the trunks of trees that have tasty bark and cover foliage with bird netting when trees and bushes are fruiting.
  8. Change yard ornaments periodically. Objects such as scarecrows, statuary and cordons of monofilament string with strips of shiny foil attached cause deer to shy away.
  9. Make safe choices. Research repellants you plan to use to make sure they aren't poisonous.
  10. Be flexible and ready to share a bit. There is no such thing as a completely deer-resistant garden.
It's dry out there

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.