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 You are here    Flowers by the Sea / Categories / Salvias by Culture / Drought Tolerant
Drought Tolerant
Drought Tolerant

Drought tolerance is characterized by a plant's ability to get by on less water. Yet native climate often defines the boundaries of this trait. The plants in this list all share the ability to grow in arid conditions when water is scarce.

A plant that tolerates and perhaps thrives on less than 15 inches of annual rain may be overwhelmed by moisture in a state where drought lowers the annual average from 50 to 40 inches. But Flowers by the Sea also gladly provides information if you ask about Salvias and companion plants that are appropriate for drought in damper parts of the nation.

One definition of drought is a below-average amount of rain and snow over an extended period, such as during more than one growing season. Yet drought is caused by more than a shortfall of local precipitation.

Even if your area’s seasonal average of moisture is at a historically normal level, the level in another region may not be. If waterways and dams connect the two regions -- such as in the American West -- low river levels can mean decreased water storage and drought for both areas. Furthermore, if your region’s population is growing but its water supply isn’t, that can also lead to drought due to insufficiency.

This adds up to a web of trouble that can only be untangled through water conservation. One effective conservation measure is to design gardens with plants that are attractive yet need little water. These are called xeriscapes, waterwise landscapes and dry gardens.

Drought tolerance is closely connected to the term "xeric," a Greek word for "dry” and the root of xeriscape. Xeriscapic plants include species accustomed to arid climates or dry summer/wet winter growing conditions, such as along coastlines with Mediterranean climates.

The Salvias and companion plants in this list share the ability to grow when water is scarce. They are attractive even while surviving minimal summer water. Many are native to arid regions or are from Mediterranean climates.

Before ordering plants, please carefully consider your local growing conditions in order to select species that will be right for your climate and yard. We're happy to provide recommendations.

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(Brilliance Pink Mountain Sage) Long blooming Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Brilliance' produces prolific quantities of deep reddish-pink, or cerise, blossoms along with dense, mid-green foliage.

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(Glimmering White Mountain Sage) Heatwave Glimmer isn't a mirage. It is a Salvia microphylla that tolerates extremely hot climates as well as cooler regions. It doesn't just survive; it thrives in the heat of Southern California, the Southwest and Texas.

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(Scorching Pink Mountain Sage) Compact and small, this Mountain Sage is another fine groundcover for Southern California, the Southwest and Texas. Similar to Salvia microphylla 'Heatwave Glimmer', it not only survives but thrives in extreme heat.

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(Hot Lips Sage) What a winner for fascinating flowers! Hot Lips Sage has solid red, solid white and two-tone combinations all on the same plant and often at the same time.The variations are random. You might say that this shrubby sage is mixed-up, but its confused coloring makes it highly desirable.

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(Trinity Mountain Sage) Heat and drought tolerant, this Salvia microphylla is native to Northeastern Mexico where summers are dry and temperatures can rise to more than 100 degrees F. It can survive winter temperatures down to 0 degrees.

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(Azure Hybrid Sage) Despite its name, the flowers of this tiny hybrid aren't really blue. They are a light purple. Due to its size, long bloom time, heat tolerance and drought resistance, Salvia x 'Mesa Azure' is a fine groundcover for areas where summers are hot and dry.

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(Big Orange Mountain Sage) When temperatures are cooler in spring and fall, the persimmon-orange flowers of this large Mountain Sage darken. Gray-green foliage, bright green calyxes and reddish-green stems add to the plant's fascinating look, which mixes well with yellows and blues.

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(People's Park Mountain Sage) Sometimes nature can be rebellious. This is one the Mountain Sages known as the Turbulent Sixties Series developed from an outlaw cultivar of the Southwestern native Salvia microphylla. Monterey Bay Nursery (MBN) named their accidental hybrid ‘Berzerkeley.’

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(Red Velvet Mountain Sage) This is one of the most intense red-flowering variety of Mountain Sage we grow. Medium-sized flowers are profuse on this large, vigorous plant -- particularly in spring and fall. Dark stems and calyxes intensify the plant's drama along with glossy green foliage.

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(Royal Bumble Mountain Sage) Almost black, the stems and calyxes of this UK hybrid form a pleasing contrast with its medium-size scarlet flowers and glossy green leaves. Bloom time is spring to fall. This Mountain Sage suckers freely and forms a dense clump.

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(St. Charles Day Mountain Sage) Especially in spring and fall, masses of red-violet flowers bloom amid the silvery green foliage of Salvia microphylla 'San Carlos Festival'. Put this one into the "must have" column.

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(Telegraph Avenue Dwarf Mountain Sage) Here’s another member of the Turbulent Sixties Series of Southwestern Mountain Sages (Salvia microphylla), which developed from one of nature’s rebels – an accidental hybrid that Monterey Bay Nursery (MBN) named ‘Berzerkeley’ after finding it taking a stand in the nursery’s gravel paving.

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(Variegated Mirto de Montes Sage) Over the years, we have seen a number of variegated varieties of Mountain Sage. None have been as lovely and sturdy as this one, from botanist Brent Barnes of the University of California at Riverside.

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(Big Leaf Mountain Sage) Nothing is little about this plant even though "microphylla" means "little leaf." The rough, wrinkly leaves are often 3 inches long and almost 2 inches wide. The pinkish-orange flowers are also large and bloom spring to fall.
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(Mount Hermon Sage) This dry loving perennial features a tight rosette of furry white leaves, and tall branched inflorescence with white flowers and purple spots. It grows in rocky slopes on Mount Hermon in Lebanon.
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(Royal Purple Autumn Sage) Salvia muelleri is related both to Autumn Sage (S. greggii) and Mountain Sage (S. microphylla), which are closely related species.

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(Wildesalie) Dominant white beelines mark the violet-blue flowers of this heat- and drought-tolerant sage from South Africa. Dramatic burgundy bracts surround the flowers, which contrast handsomely with dense, fine leaved, olive green foliage of Salvia muirii.
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(Munz's Sage) Densely branched and extremely 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.
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(Elk Blue Little Sage) if it were up to us, we would never have named this plant Little Sage. Although it is dainty, it is also one of the most fascinating species we grow. We particularly love its pebbly, oval leaves that are a shiny purple/green on top and a furry white below.

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(Nodding Sage) "Dancing in the air" is how garden writer Joseph Tychonievich describes the tall, graceful flower spikes of Nodding Sage, which can tower up to 5 feet tall over the plant's 18-inch-tall foliage during the summer flowering season.

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(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.

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(Tamaulipas Sage) Deep purple flowers, strong stems and attractively textured, gray-green foliage make this sage useful in the drought-resistant Salvia garden. Rising up to 5 feet tall and spreading feet wide, it is a fine backdrop.
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(Rock Sage) The lavender-to- purple flowered Salvia pinguifolia thrives in full sun to partial shade. Rare in the horticultural trade, this Southwestern sage now is available through FBTS.
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(Big Pitcher Sage) As its scientific name indicates, this sage has very large flowers. They are almost two-tone, changing from deep violet to a light blue or white at their base where they are cupped by dusky purple calyxes.

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