(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.
These are species that produce woody stems, but die back to the ground in the winter in all but the warmest climates. In warm winter areas these can become woody shrubs, but they generally benefit from the following pruning methods.
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.
(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.
(Cedros Island Sage) From the Island of Cedars off the coast of Baja California Sur comes this delightful xeric sage with deep violet-blue flowers and silvery foliage. The square-shaped, 1-inch-long leaves are densely covered with short white hairs providing moisture retention and a velvety texture.
This is a gem for xeric, full-sun gardens. It is easy to grow if you understand the conditions on Cedros Island, which are dry, hot and generally sunny. In their mountain-forest ecosystem, the minimal water that these plants receive is largely from occasional fog. So keep this plant mostly dry, give it perfect drainage and don't shade it if possible. Your reward will be a lovely edging plant, small-scale ground cover or a short but dramatic container plant.
This Salvia is rare to find in cultivation; we are very happy to be able to supply this lovely plant.
(Silver Germander Sage) With its compact habit, brilliant silver-white leaves and large, sky blue flowers, this is an outstanding heat-tolerant choice for dry, sunny gardens. We consider this to be one of the finest short ground covers for these conditions.
Grow Silver Germander Sage in full sun and well-drained, loamy soil where you can see it up close. Expect explosive blooming in the summer and fall when the weather warms and settles.
We highly recommend this rarely seen variety of the green-leafed Germander Sage.
(Royal Purple Autumn Sage) Salvia muelleri is related both to Autumn Sage (S. greggii) and Mountain Sage (S. microphylla), which are closely related species.
This tough plant is a hybrid that occurred in the wild. Similar to both parent species, it is at its best in fall when it bursts with intensely purple flowers.
Royal Purple Autumn Sage is small leafed and densely branched. It is a small shrub in USDA Zones 8 and 9, but an herbaceous perennial in Zone 7. The soft look of this sage's foliage looks pretty at the edge of pathways, in mixed borders or in containers where it can be enjoyed close up.
Native to the mountains of Monterrey, Mexico, this sage is well adapted to dry conditions. However, it also responds well to regular watering. While not picky about type of soil, it needs good drainage.
Full sun or partial shade both work for Royal Purple, but remember to restrict watering in shady locations. Otherwise lots of growth and few flowers will be the rule. Peak bloom is in the fall, but flowering occurs on and off beginning in spring.
Try this plant with Salvia x jamensis 'Golden Elk' for an amazing color combo.
(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.
(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.
(Wooly Multicolor Sage) In Greek, "lasiantha" means "wooly flower." The flowers of Salvia lasiantha are surrounded by wooly bracts, but are even more notable for transforming from apricot-orange in the morning to reddish-purple later in the day.
The bracts are also dramatic -- a fuzzy white overlaid with pink, orange, violet and cream. The large flower clusters bloom from mid-summer until the onset of cold weather. Large wrinkled foliage and white wooly stems are other distinctive features of this large, shrubby sage. All that wooliness helps this native of Mexico and Costa Rica to conserve moisture during drought and extreme heat.
At 5 feet tall and wide, this fragrant butterfly magnet makes a good screen, background planting or addition to a shrubby border. It can even be grown in a large patio container.
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.
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.