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Ask Mr. Sage: How to Select Plants in Warm Zones

First posted on Nov 7, 2014

Ask Mr. Sage: How to Select Plants in Warm Zones

Dear Mr. Sage:
I recently moved to Los Angeles and live in Zone 10. This is a new gardening situation for me. I've noticed that some Zone 9 plants grow well in my yard, but I'm not certain how to use zone information to select Salvias and other perennials from your catalog.

Agapanthus is thriving a bit too much along a sunny wall in my yard. I want to remove some of it and replace it with Salvias. Do you have any suggestions about what I should do?
Lost in the Zones

Dear Lost in the Zones,
It's understandable to feel a bit lost when you are in a new gardening environment. However, remember that USDA Cold Hardiness Zones are only based on winter temperatures that plants can withstand. So if a plant can handle the winter in Zone 9 with average coldest temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees F, then it will be fine in Zones 10 or 11 where winters are warmer.

On the details and cultural icons pages of each plant description in our catalog, we note appropriate zones. In particular, if a plant is classified as hardy to Zone 9, then it will be right for the temperatures in your area. But there are other considerations that affect whether a plant is appropriate for your site. Our description details also contain information about soil and water needs. If a plant prefers damp soil and you have a dry garden, then you need to select a more drought tolerant Salvia or companion plant.

To make selection easier, we provide our Salvia Finder, which helps you sort hundreds of choices in our catalog by zone, whether perennial or annual, sun exposure, color, water needs, height, width, bloom season and appeal to pollinators. Let's assume that after opening the Salvia Finder, you choose Zone 10 and red, because it will look pretty with the purple of your Agapanthus. This opens a queue containing only red plants. (By the way, most of the plants we sell, even the ones that are extremely cold hardy, will grow in the warmest zones.) You may want to trim the list further, such as by size and water demand.

You'll also find helpful information in our Everything Salvias Blog. Here is one of our articles about native sages for Southern California and another about drought-tolerant dry shade plants.

If you're still feeling zoned out by USDA Zones or have other questions, please call or write. We'll help clear the confusion.

Thanks for Your Question,
Mr. Sage

Ask Mr. Sage is a question-and-answer feature based on topics raised in calls and emails that Flowers by the Sea receives. To send a query, just click on the Ask Mr. Sage button on this page.

Updated 2/23/2016

Edited Apr 24, 2018 05:00 PM


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