Cloud forests form on mountaintops worldwide. Some of the best-known ones in the Western Hemisphere are found in Canada, Mexico, Central America and South America. They are troves of plant diversity and major sources of oxygen production.
Plants from these misty, montane forests love humidity and partial shade. Many are well adapted to life in temperate climates, especially in areas with moderate year-round temperatures and plentiful fog, such as along our Mendocino coastline.
Due to their elevation, cloud forests are cooler than tropical rainforests. Instead of gaining their moisture from rain, plants in these areas absorb moisture from the clouds surrounding them similar to Northern California plants that quench themselves on fog drip.
Despite major differences in altitude, the growing conditions in Mediterranean coastal climates approximate the growing conditions in cloud forests. This is especially true where temperatures are cool-to-moderate, fog is plentiful and low evaporation occurs, such as in San Francisco.
Aside from loving moisture, cloud forest plants often prefer rich soil. Flowers by the Sea raises a variety of cloud-forest species, including Salvias and orchids. Cloud forests worldwide are suffering from deforestation and global warming. By growing their plants, you help preserve biodiversity.
(Tubular Chilean Sage) Foggy days and moderate temperatures are the norm for this low-altitude, coastal mountain sage from northern Chile and Peru. It is grown as much for its handsome foliage as for the deep cranberry of its tiny, tubular flowers.
(Blue Bush Sage) Furry, large and heavily textured, the mid-green leaves of Salvia urica contrast attractively with its violet-blue flowers that bloom spring into summer.
(Grape Leaf Sage) Tall spikes of intensely blue flowers bloom summer to fall and emerge in profusion from handsome, furry foliage. The leaves are grape green on top and purplish on the bottom. This water-loving sage grows rapidly into a spreading mound.
(Pink & White Wagner's Sage) Instead of pink, leaf-life bracts, this variety of Wagner's Sage has white bracts surrounding the hot pink flowers. It blooms from November to March on our coastal Northern California farm where it feeds Anna's hummingbirds all winter long.