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Salvia leucophylla


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Salvia leucophylla

Limited Availability Plant
Limited Availability

Available April to August only.

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Description

(California Purple Sage or California Gray Sage) This California native is commonly known as Purple Sage for its flowers or Gray Sage for its silvery, velvety, foliage. Due also to its hardiness, drought tolerance and ability to attract small wildlife, it is a joy in the dry garden.

Salvia leucophylla is highly aromatic and grows gradually into a dense, silver mound. Its fragrant flowers last from late winter to spring, welcoming honeybees and hummingbirds with nectar. Songbirds are drawn to the tasty seed it produces and the insects it attracts. 

All this sage requires to thrive in Zones 8 and 9 is well-drained soil and full sun. Salvia leucophylla likes ocean breezes as well as the heat of inland canyons. Being hardy to at least 15 degrees F, it is worth a try in some Zone 7 areas.

We would use this heat-tolerant 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 handsome screen or border plant in the dry garden, it makes a great large-scale ground cover that takes minimal care.

Our stock was originally raised from seed collected at the far northern end of its range.

Details

Product rating
 
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In stock
Limited Availability

Common name
California Purple Sage or Califronia Gray Sage
USDA Zones
8 - 9
Size (h/w/fh)
48"/60"/60"
Exposure
Full sun
Soil type
Well drained
Water needs
Drought resistant
Pot size
3 1/2 inch deep pot
Container plant?
Yes
Our price
$8.50

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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
Heat tolerant
Heat tolerant

Garden Uses

Fragrant
Fragrant

Growing Habit

8 - 9
8 - 9
48 inches tall
48 inches tall
60 inches wide
60 inches wide
Ground cover
Ground cover
Shrub
Shrub

Water Needs

Drought resistant
Drought resistant

Blooming Season

Spring blooming
Spring blooming
Winter blooming
Winter blooming

Wildlife

Honeybees
Honeybees
Butterflies
Butterflies
Deer resistant
Deer resistant
Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds
  • Heuchera 'Canyon Melody'

    (Canyon Melody Dwarf Coral Bells) Heuchera is commonly called Alum Root or Coral Bells. Canyon Melody has medium pink flowers with a touch of white and glossy green, scalloped foliage.

    Although Heucheras are known for their extravagantly colorful, foliage, this species is from the Heuchera Canyon Quartet Series, which was bred for its vivid yet airy flowers and compact size.

    Heucheras are easy-to-grow woodland plants that are native to North America from California east to Florida and north to Canada. In the wild, they grow in canyons and desert seeps as well as on hillsides and rock croppings. The late botanist Dara Emery of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden developed the Quartet Series.

    The astringent alum in Heuchera roots is sometimes used in pickling foods and in folk remedies for problems such as sore throats.

    Long blooming, Canyon Melody grows up to 1 foot tall and wide in well-drained soil. It does well in partial shade to full sun; locations with morning sun and afternoon shade are particularly good choices. Although it thrives on average watering, Canyon Melody is drought resistant. It also tolerates hot summers, cold winters and salt spray.

    Try this clumping, quick-growing Heuchera as a border, container or edging plant. It also forms a lovely groundcover in dry shade. Honeybees love it, and so do we.

    Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, known as the father of taxonomy, named plants for friends. He honored German botanist Johann Heinrich von Heucher (pronounced "Hoyker") by naming Heuchera ("Hoy-ker-uh") for him. Collection of the genus in America dates back to 1601.
    $8.00
  • 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.

    $8.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia brandegeei

    (Santa Rosa Island Sage) This is a hardy, California native sage although it is only found in the wild on one of Southern California's Channel Islands. It is drought resistant and forms dense mounds of fragrant, deep green, wrinkly foliage with heavenly clouds of lavender-tinged blue flowers in spring.

    Despite doing a good job of tolerating clay soils, Santa Rosa Island Sage prefers well-drained soil in full sun. Water it regularly to see fast growth or don't water it at all once established. This is a tough, drought-tolerant plant. Either way, it is a charming border shrub, and we highly recommend it.

    Cold weather note: This plant can tolerate a few hours at 0 degrees F, but cannot endure the longer cold spells of Zone 7a winters.

    $8.50
  • 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.

    $8.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia clevelandii 'Winnifred Gilman'

    (Cleveland Sage or California Blue Sage) This drought-tolerant, evergreen, California native is a compact, aromatic shrub with electric blue-purple flowers that bloom in summer. Discovered in a Berkeley, California, garden, Winnifred Gilman is a fine variety of the species.

    We have grown it successfully without watering during the summer. The strongly scented flowers attract honeybees and hummingbirds in abundance.

    As far as we know -- and there is a great deal of anecdotal information about this variety -- this is a true S. clevlelandii, unlike the popular Alan Chickering' or Whirly Blue varieties. Winnifred Gilman is denser in it's growth than either of these cultivars and has darker flowers. A mid-height Salvia, it is attractive as a screen or border shrub and also is a good addition to a cut-flower garden.
    $8.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia kellermanii

    (Kellerman's Sage) Rare in the United States, this wooly leafed, upright shrub comes from Southern Mexico and Guatemala. Mid-size, powder-blue flowers bloom on its long, airy stems from summer through winter in mild climates. It's lovely in mixed, drought-resistant plantings.

    Named for American botanist William A. Kellerman, who began exploring Guatemala in 1904, this shrubby, medium-height sage stands up well to heat and may be more cold hardy than Zone 9. It has been confused with Salvia collinsii, which is much taller, less airy and has white/lavender blossoms.

    Butterflies and hummingbirds enjoy Kellerman's Sage, which is adaptable to either full sun or partial shade. It isn't picky about type of soil, but does need good drainage. Plant it in a container or as a shrubby border.
    $8.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia lavanduloides

    (Lavender Leaf Sage) It's easy to confuse this sage from Southern Mexico with a Lavender bush. The bluish-lavender flower spikes make it look like a Lavandula species as does the foliage, which is similar in size, shape and color.

    However, unlike Lavender, which blooms from spring into fall, this gray herbaceous perennial sage follows an opposite pattern. It begins blooming in fall and continues into spring if not deterred by frost.

    Although it doesn't grow quickly, heat-tolerant Salvia lavanduloides is tough when given full sun, good air circulation and well-drained soil. It is a fragrant groundcover, border or container plant and is highly recommended by honeybees and butterflies. Humans like it too, which explains why it is often in short supply.

    $8.50
  • 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.

    $8.50
  • Salvia leucophylla 'Point Sal'

    (Spreading California Purple Sage or Spreading California Gray Sage) Songbirds love this California native as do honeybees and hummingbirds. This Salvia leucophylla clone was collected in the wild and close to the ocean at Point Sal near Santa Barbara. Heat and drought tolerant, it also withstands direct ocean spray.  This plant has no rival as a large scale ground cover or bank cover for areas that are dry in summer.

    Commonly known as Purple Sage for its flowers or Gray Sage for its silvery, velvety, foliage, this hardy salvia is highly regarded for attracting small wildlife including songbirds, which love its tasty seed and the insects it attracts. The Point Sal variety is shorter and spreads further than the species.

    However, similar to the species, the Point Sal plant is well known for being highly aromatic and growing into a dense, silvery mound with fragrant flowers that last from late winter to spring. It loves full sun and well-drained soil.

    This variety has a broader range than the species, because it grows well in Zone 10 along with Zones 8 and 9. Being cold hardy to at least 15 degrees F, it is worth trying in some Zone 7 areas. All this 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 groundcover that takes minimal care, it is also a handsome screen or border plant for dry gardens.

    $8.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia mellifera

    (Black Sage or Honey Sage) One of the most common and fragrant native shrubs in Central California's Coast Ranges, Black Sage is ideal for dry gardens. Admirably adaptable, it tolerates soils ranging from the most marginal to ones that are loamy and provide excellent drainage. It is a survivor.

    The elegant long wrinkled leaves are powerfully aromatic. Its small white-to-lavender whorls of flowers, which bloom from summer into fall, are vital sources of nectar and pollen for honeybees and hummingbirds.

    Use this garden workhorse for a large scale groundcover, as a background planting for other more dramatic Salvias or as a vital plant in a wildlife garden. It likes full sun and is heat tolerant.

    Our strain is originally from seed collected at the far northern edge of its range, and is hardy to at least 20 degrees F.
    $8.50
  • Salvia munzii

    (Munz's Sage) Densely branched and fragrant, this drought-resistant shrub is named for botanist Philip Munz (1892-1974) of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and Pomona College. It is native to northern Baja California and the coastal mountains of San Diego.

    Large, lavender-to-violet flowers bloom from June through August amid the extremely aromatic, bright green foliage. Munz's Sage is widely adaptable, but excels in warm, semi-arid places that emulate its homelands. It is an attractive plant for native gardens or dry areas in USDA Zones 8 to 11.

    At 48 inches tall and wide, it is much larger than its relative Black Sage (Salvia mellifera), another powerfully aromatic plant of the coastal shrublands. Grow this heat-tolerant summer bloomer as a groundcover, screen or background planting. It also works well in a shrub border.

    We highly recommend Munz's Sage as do honeybees and hummingbirds.
    $8.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia sonomensis 'Mrs Beard'

    (Mrs. Beard Creeping Sage) In 1963, Dr. Helen-Mar Wheeler Beard, a botanist from the University of California at Berkeley, found an accidental hybrid in her private garden. It developed into a mid-height, wide-spreading groundcover with gray-green foliage and tiny, lavender flowers.

    The UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley has grown Dr. Beard’s surprise Salvia since 1965. It is a hybrid of Salvia sonomensis – known commonly as Creeping Sage or Sonoma Sage – and Salvia mellifera (Black Sage). As to why the cultivar name uses the honorific “Mrs.” Instead of “Dr.”, that remains a mystery.

    Although Mrs. Beard Creeping Sage can tolerate some shade, it prefers full sun. This durable plant is drought resistant and ideal for dry gardens where it is idea for preventing erosion on slopes and for planting in a mixed shrub border with other native sages. However, it looks best when it receives occasional summer watering. It does well in the winter conditions of USDA Zones 7 to 9, growing up to 3 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Although not picky about soil type, it needs good drainage.

    This fragrant sage blooms from spring into summer, attracting honeybees and hummingbirds. It is a close cousin of Salvia Bee’s Bliss (Bee’s Bliss Sage), which is always humming with honeybees when flowering.

    $8.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia spathacea 'Avis Keedy'

    (Yellow Hummingbird Sage or Yellow Pitcher Sage) The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden introduced this rare yellow variety of fragrant Hummingbird Sage. Similar to other varieties of this species, Avis Keedy is alluring to butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds.

    In addition to large clusters of canary yellow blossoms that light up the shade, Avis Keedy has bright green bracts and basal foliage. The flowers age to white, making for a soft blend of colors. The leaves are less lobed than those of the rose-colored species, but are still sticky and richly scented.

    This drought-tolerant, heat-resistant sage is adaptable to light conditions ranging from full sun to partial shade and grows particularly well in morning sun and afternoon shade. It blooms from winter into spring. As with other types of Salvia spathacea it likes the temperatures of USDA Zones 8 to 11.

    Avis Keedy can spread up to 3 feet across by underground runners in favorable conditions. It makes a fine groundcover in woodland, native and dry gardens where it also works well in perennial borders. Plant it in rich, well-drained soil and provide average watering based on local conditions.

    We sell out of this Hummingbird Sage in a heartbeat when we offer them in bloom at our local farmers' markets.
    $8.50

    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.

    $8.50

    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.

    $8.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia x 'Pozo Blue'

    (Grey Musk Sage) Lavender flowered, this is a fast-growing, chance hybrid of California Blue Sage (Salvia clevelandii) and California Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla).

    Found at Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery in Southern California, Pozo Blue is tolerant of almost any soil and tolerates both heat and drought. It usually begins its long bloomtime by showing off for a full month in spring.

    If you are looking for a tough, fragrant California native shrub, you've found it. Pozo Blue loves full sun and dry conditions.  Its well-branched stems are covered with richly scented leaves that are so fuzzy with hairs they look white. The hairs help the plant conserve moisture.

    Tolerant of everything but wet feet in the summer, this sage withstands temperatures as low as 5 degrees F for a short time and lows in the 20s for days. 

    Use Pozo Blue in tough soils, on banks and in areas where watering is difficult or undesirable. It is a tall, effective groundcover that also doubles as an excellent cut-flower garden choice. We display the flowers in our kitchen whenever Blue Pozo is in bloom.
    $8.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia spathacea

    (Hummingbird Sage or Pitcher Sage) No sage we grow is more attractive to hummingbirds than this one. Spectacular in all ways, it is one of our favorite Salvias with its fruity smelling, evergreen foliage and jewel-like flowers and bracts.

    Salvia spathacea is easy to grow, drought tolerant, heat resistant and adaptable to a broad range of light conditions from full sun to full shade. It blooms reliably from late winter into spring, sometimes stretching into summer and blooming again in fall.

    Our strain is a rich rose red and doesn't go dormant in summer. It comes from the northern end of a native range stretching from the Santa Cruz Mountains in California's Central Coast south to Orange County. The flowers of all varieties of this species grow in large clusters on tall spikes that rise up from sticky, basal foliage.

    Hummingbird Sage develops into a mound that spreads gently with underground runners. It's hardy to USDA Zones 8 to 11 and, in favorable conditions, can spread 4 feet. However, average growth is 24 inches tall and wide. 

    We sell out in a heartbeat when we offer these sages in bloom at our local Markets.

    $8.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Sideritis oroteneriffae

    (Canary Island White Sage) Thick, almost succulent leaves are so furry and white that everyone that sees this Canary Island native reaches out to stroke it. A true standout in a hot dry garden, this tough plant is the perfect background to show off the brightly colored flowers of many Salvias.

    Tiny yellow flowers in whorls are not showy, but clearly identify this plant as a close relative to Salvias.  Rare in cultivation, this is a fine garden plant for harsh conditions - and even grows well for us on the Northern California Coast.

    Grow in dryish, well drained soil in full sun and enjoy this unique Salvia companion,
    $7.00
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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 11:22 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 26 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.
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 04:43 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.
Sage Words About Wildlife: Do Deer Devour Salvia?

Sage Words About Wildlife: Do Deer Devour Salvia?


Category: Sage Words About Wildlife
Posted: Dec 4, 2012 09:46 PM
Synopsis:

Salvias are not a favorite food for deer. However, they will eat some when plants they consider tasty are in short supply. There is no such thing as deer-proof plants, but you can limit deer damage to your landscaping and vegetable garden by planting lots of sages and other plants that aren't among deer favorites.

Salvias Down South: Southern California Butterfly Favorites

Salvias Down South: Southern California Butterfly Favorites


Category: Butterflies in the Garden
Posted: Nov 5, 2012 07:36 PM
Synopsis: Wildscaping a butterfly-friendly garden in Southern California is an act of kindness, especially toward imperiled species. Gardeners from Santa Barbara southward may want to group coastal sage and chaparral plants in their butterfly gardens, because those are among favorite sources of nectar for adult butterflies and host plants for caterpillars. Sages are popular nectar choices. Plants, such as Milkweeds and Impatiens, that work well both as nectar providers and caterpillar hosts are important additions.
Winter Blooming Salvias (Part II)

Winter Blooming Salvias (Part II)


Category: Everything Salvias Blog
Posted: Dec 10, 2011 04:55 PM
Synopsis:

The Blue Species


When I think of Winter blooming "font-style: italic;">Salvias, the warm colors – red, orange and pink – come to mind first. Possibly because THE most spectacular Sage of all, "font-style: italic;">Salvia gesneriifolia 'Tequila', is a presence to contend with, growing for us over 16 feet tall and 30 feet across! But looking around our gardens this cool day, there are a number of very fine blue and purple Sages in bloom now. So in Part 2 of the Winter "font-style: italic;">Salvia series, we’ll discuss these fine plants.
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.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

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:


  1. Plant sages with platform-type blossoms. Unlike hummingbirds, butterflies can't hover while feeding. Sages with large lower lips and short nectar tubes, such as those in the Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) and Mountain Sage (S. microphylla) group, give butterflies a place to stand while gathering nectar and pollen.
  2. Provide lots of color and sunlight. Butterflies need to stay warm and are attracted to a broad range of flower colors.
  3. Include native species. Insects and plants have co-evolved to meet each other's needs within their native regions. Butterflies prefer feeding on their local, native perennials and shrubs.
  4. Grow Caterpillar Host Plants. Butterflies need baby nurseries. Some are extremely picky about the plants on which they lay eggs, such as Monarchs, which need milkweeds (Asclepias spp.). The North American Butterfly Association is a good source of information about host plants.
  5. Don't use pesticides. They kill many beneficial insects, including butterflies.
  6. Keep your garden blooming. Plant a variety of Salvias based on bloom times as well as color and shape. Many flower from spring into fall. Others are prolific fountains of nectar for shorter seasons.
  7. Provide puddles. Butterflies stay hydrated by splashing in puddles located in sunny spots on the ground or raised up in shallow birdbaths. Include rocks for basking; butterflies need to dry and warm their wings.
  8. Plant butterfly gardens near shelter. Butterflies need to be able to flee into trees, shrubbery and woodpiles when predators appear and when windy or rainy weather occurs.
  9. Supplement plantings with rotten fruit. Some butterflies love the juice of rotting fruit even more than nectar.
  10. Read more. Our Everything Salvias Blog offers a number of articles about butterflies.

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.