(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.
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.
(Sonoran Sunset® Anise Hyssop) An abundance of lavender-rose flowers mark Agastache cana 'Sinning' as being unique from the typical purple-flowered plants of its species. Colorado plantsman Duane Sinning discovered this lovely hybrid.
Sonoran Sunset® Anise Hyssop was developed by Plant Select, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Colorado State University. Plant Select promotes production of and education about xeriscapic, drought-resistant plants.
Agastache is Greek for "many flower spikes." Cana describes the plant's gray foliage, which has a pleasant anise or licorice-like fragrance. Common names for this species include Mosquito Plant, Texas Hummingbird Mint and Double Bubble Mint.
The trademarked name refers to the Sonoran Desert and the lovely sunset purples at end of day in the plant's native American Southwest. Aside from resisting drought, Sonoran Sunset® tolerates heat and cold. Put all these characteristics together and you have an intoxicating species that excels in semi-arid climates.
Sonoran Sunset is a full sun plant that is easy to grow but requires excellent drainage. Get its conditions right and you will be rewarded with the happy buzz of butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds.
Don't expect deer to bother this mint family (Lamiaceae) plant. Similar to Salvias and other minty relatives, Agastaches contain chemicals that don't appeal to hooved wildlife.
Photo courtesy of Plant Select®.
(Showy Milkweed) Milkweeds (Asclepias spp. ) are must-have, nectar-rich plants in the butterfly garden. They're the only genus on which the endangered Monarch butterfly lays eggs. It is urgent that we offer this pretty, fragrant wildflower.
In spring 2013, The New York Times reported a precipitous decline in the Monarch butterfly migration due to various causes, including North America’s plummeting supply of Milkweed. The species normally grows wild in agricultural fields. However, the increasing use of seed genetically modified to withstand herbicides has eliminated at least 120 million acres of Monarch habitat, according to The New York Times.
Backyard gardeners can help reverse this trend by growing plants, such as Showy Milkweed, which keep the Monarch migration alive and feed other species of butterflies as well.
Butterflies need flowers on which they can easily perch while sipping nectar. Plants with globe-shaped flower heads, such as those of Milkweeds, meet this need. The roughness of Showy Milkweed's long, fuzzy, gray-green leaves make it easy for eggs and chrysalises to connect. Powerful chemicals in the foliage are consumed by Monarch caterpillars and make them off limits -- as babies and adult butterflies -- to predators that can’t consume those substances.
Showy Milkweed features globes of tiny, star-shaped flowers that are pale, creamy pink. It isn’t very big for such a powerful plant, growing only 24 to 36 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Although it can tolerate a bit of partial shade, this plant prefers full sun. It likes droughty conditions as well as gravelly ground. Any kind of soil will do as long as it drains well.
This cold-tolerant species grows well in USDA Zones 4 to 9 where it looks pretty in perennial borders or massed with other Lepidoptera favorites in butterfly gardens. It is particularly well adapted to dry gardens. Milkweeds are native to a large swath of North America, so they are also good choices for native gardens.
To control the plant’s tendency to naturalize in parts of the yard where you don’t want to grow it, simply snip off the seedpods before they ripen and pop open.
IMPORTANT NOTE: What you will recieve is a very well established root system. The foliege will not be cosmetically perfect, and it is only in the second year, once planted out in the ground, that this species will attain its full potential. In the wild this species often exhibits summer dormancy. There is generally very little above ground activity in the year in which this is planted.
(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.
(Uruguayan Firecracker Plant) Mint-green foliage felted with a covering of fine hairs provides a cooling backdrop to the hot orange tubular flowers of this long-blooming member of the acanthus family (Acanthaceae).
Honeybees and hummingbirds love this ideal companion plant for Salvia gardens, but deer resist it. As indicated by its common name, Uruguayan Firecracker Plant adds bright bursts of color to gardens whether in patio pots, as a groundcover or mixed in a border.
In areas with mild winter climates, Uruguayan Firecracker Plant sometimes remains evergreen. However, it is a perennial in the cooler part of its USDA cold hardiness range.
Acanthus species (many are referred to as "Bears Breeches" due to furriness) are well known for their ease of growth, attractive texture and usefulness in low-water gardens. Uruguayan Firecracker Plant thrives on average watering based on local rainfall, but tolerates drought. It can also handle heat and loves a full-sun location.
As to soil type or quality, this isn't a picky plant but it does require good drainage.
Botanical artist Matilda Smith (1854-1926) illustrated this wooly beauty for Curtis's Botanical Magazine of London in 1910. At that time, it was known as Jacobian suberecta.
(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.
(Scallop Shell Horehound) The mint family (Lamiaceae) is well known for fragrant, medicinal plants, including Marrubium supinum, which means "bitter" and "prostrate."
Whorls of lavender blossoms create a cool look in combination with this Spanish native's foliage, which has a felted texture and looks silvery whitish green due to lots of tiny, moisture-conserving hairs.
It's the shape of the groundcover's leaves and their softly rounded serrations that inspired the perennial's common name Scallop Shell Horehound.
Hummingbirds enjoy the nectar of this full sun plant that tolerates heat, cold and drought. It's an effective, creeping groundcover for dry gardens and an excellent companion for waterwise Salvias. Once established, Scallop Shell Horehound needs little supplemental watering.
Marrubium is said to derive from the Hebrew word expressing bitter flavor. It's also the ancient Roman name for cough syrup. Another form of the herb -- common or white Horehound Marrubium vulgare -- is used in making old fashioned hard candy known for its bittersweet taste.
Before consuming any herbal product for medicinal purposes, be sure to consult your physician.
(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.
(Saint Isidro's Sage) This hardy, lavender-blue-flowered Salvia comes from Southern Texas and has the same breeding as the famous Ultra Violet Autumn Sage. Although it needs warmer winter temperatures and has smaller foliage, it also does well in stressful conditions, including drought.
Saint Isidro's Sage is a dwarf plant with tall flower spikes. This hybrid of Autumn Sage Salvia greggii and Canyon Sage (Salvia lycioides) will keep your garden buzzing with honeybees, hummingbirds and butterflies from spring until frost. Similar to many sages, it is deer resistant.
This is a fine perennial border, groundcover, dry garden or container plant. Just give it full sun, good air circulation and well-drained soil.
(Ultra Violet Hybrid Sage) Hardy is a word bandied about by gardeners and nurserymen. Its use is often exaggerated. But this fine hybrid deserves to be called "the hardiest Autumn Sage." It's Zone-5 hardy, drought resistant and has lovely, soft purple flowers. Ultra Violet is a winner.
Scott and Lauren Springer Ogden, landscape designers and writers, in 2002 discovered Ultra Violet -- an unexpected dwarf hybrid -- in their high plains garden in Fort Collins, Colorado. Salvia greggii are renowned for accidentally hybridizing.
Ultra Violet is one of the best Salvias for tough conditions, such as the hot, dry summers and freezing winters of the American West's high-altitude, semi-arid lands. In fact, it is one of the few Salvia greggii that thrive in these conditions.
Blooming from spring into fall, Ultra Violet will keep your garden buzzing with honeybees, hummingbirds and butterflies until frost. This deer-resistant sage makes a fine perennial border, groundcover, dry garden or container plant. Just give it full sun, good air circulation and well-drained soil.
(Himalayan Cloud Sage) Nepal's Muktinath Valley -- a sacred site for Hindus and Buddhists -- is the place to go to see this majestically tall shade perennial in the wild. It grows at altitudes up to 14,000 feet and often emerges while the ground is still snowy.
The creamy yellow flowers have thin purple markings and bloom throughout summer. They grow about 1 to 1 1/2 inches long on flower spikes that rise up 4 feet or taller by late summer.
In America, this fragrant, cold-hardy sage is adaptable from USDA Zone 5 to 10. In cooler climates, it grows well in full sun whereas a bit of shade is best In warmer zones. We find that it thrives in rich, well-drained garden soil with ample water. However, it is resilient and survives in less than ideal conditions.
Use this sage in mixed perennial borders and moist woodland gardens. It is also eye-catching as an accent plant and sensual due to its fragrance. You might want to try it in locations where you are likely to brush against it, such as an entryway.
We love and highly recommend this one. Demand often exceeds supply; deer resist it, but customers can't.
(Raspberry Delight Sage) Dark raspberry-red flowers, burgundy stems and calyxes and deep green foliage make this one of our most attention-grabbing varieties.
We also appreciate Raspberry Delight for its superior cold hardiness, heat tolerance, drought resistance, tightly branched form and pleasant fragrance. Hummingbirds love its long-blooming flowers.
Raspberry Delight is spectacular when massed in a large group, so it is a dramatic as well as effective groundcover. Salvias with deep purple flowers harmonize well with this perennial sage that looks equally pretty in patio containers.
Autumn Sages are native to the American Southwest and Mexico. They do well in full sun, but can handle some partial shade. They appreciate average watering based on local conditions, but can get by on much less. This makes them good choices for dry gardens.
Raspberry Delight® is a registered trademark of Plants for the Western Garden, Inc.
(Siberian Sage) Deep violet flowers surrounded by burgundy bracts form a handsome contrast with the pebbly, mint green foliage of this drought-resistant sage. It comes from the Central Asian steppe, which is similar in climate and geography to America’s high plains.
Cold and heat tolerant, this is an ideal plant for semi-arid, high-altitude areas such as the Rocky Mountain West. It is native to lands stretching from Eastern Europe into Central Asia. You can find Salvia stepposa in countries such as Afghanistan, China’s Xinjiang province, Iran and Kyrgyzstan.
Garden writer and researcher Noel Kingsbury describes Kyrgyzstan’s steppe country as being an ocean of Salvia, containing violet waves of Salvia stepposa. Kingsbury says it’s “like a vast garden border on a kind of overdrive.”
Also known as Salvia dumetorum and Siberian Sage, this summer bloomer is adaptable to both full sun and partial shade. It grows in almost any kind of soil that drains well and reaches sizes up to 48 inches tall and 24 inches wide, which makes it just right for butterfly-attracting borders on overdrive in your garden.
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.
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.