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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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(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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(Fruit Sage) Also known as Apple Sage or Cretean 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.
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(Scrappy African Sage) Although not well known in U.S. nurseries, this fragrant sage with luminous white flowers is highly desirable for hot, sunny areas in USDA Zones 8 to 10. Native to the botanically rich mountains of South Africa, it grows at elevations up to 6,200 feet.
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(Raspberry Delight Sage) Dark raspberry-red flowers, burgundy stems and calyxes and deep green foliage make this one of our most attention-grabbing varieties.

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(Orange Mountain Sage) This is the reddest of the Salvia regla species and the most floriferous. Side by side with the other varieties, this one is a bit taller and has darker flowers.

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(Jame Orange Mountain Sage) North Carolina plantsman Richard Dufresne collected this fine variety of Salvia regla near the village of Jame, in central Mexico where the western and eastern Sierra Madre mountains meet.

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(Orange Mountain Sage) Coahuila, Mexico, is home to many fine Salvias, including the smallest variety of Salvia regla that we grow. This one averages about 3 feet tall and wide.

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(Great Orange Mountain Sage) Densely branched with small, dark green leaves, this variety of Salvia regla also features creamy orange flowers with white markings.

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(West Texas Grass Sage) Small clusters of true blue flowers are spaced widely along the grass-like stems of this airy West Texas mountain sage. Like so many American native plants, it is a key food source for honeybees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
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(Autumn Sapphire West Texas Grass Sage) Butterflies and honeybees particularly favor this West Texas mountain native. In contrast to the true blue flowers of regular Salvia reptans, this cultivar has deep blue blossoms and is remarkably compact.

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(Summer Skies West Texas Grass Sage) Butterflies and honeybees particularly favor this West Texas mountain native. In contrast to the true blue flowers of regular Salvia reptans, this cultivar has purple blossoms with cloud-like, lavender-to-white throats.

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(Bolivian Lace Leaf Sage)  A large decidious woody shrub, this is a distinctive and somewhat unique Salvia species.  The large clusters of deep blue flowers appear in the spring and again in the fall. A native from a tropical savanna climate in Bolivia, this species grows best in climates with year-round warmth.

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(Mount Olympus Sage) The deep violet and white flowers of Salvia ringens are eyecatching. Their wiry, branched spikes rise up to 5 feet tall from a dark green basal rosette.

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(Cedar Sage) Scarlet flowers abound on this small, mounding, woodland sage that is native to Texas, Arizona and Northern Mexico. Grow it as a small scale groundcover or mix it with other shade-loving sages in a perennial border or along a path.

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(Bohemian Rosemary Sage) The origin of this clone is shrouded with age. It has been in my family since at least the 1930s. One of the largest and most durable varieties of this species, it is ideal for hedges and large spaces.
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(Little Hill Sage) This most unusual variety heralds from the northeastern Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. Large growing and rambling, it is at it's best when given room to spread.
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(Coastal Blue Sage) Native from the sandy shores to brushy slopes of South Africa's East Cape, this sub-shrub sage is noted for growing easily in gardens elsewhere. Its lovely purplish-pink flowers have a subtle blue sparkle in bright sun and bloom spring to fall.
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(Xobo Valley Sage) Although petite, the rare Xobo Valley Sage is eyecatching due to its lacy, bright green foliage and powder blue flowers. It's even possible that this long-blooming sage may have caught Nelson Mandela's eye as he grew up in the Wild Coast area of South Africa's Eastern Cape.

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(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.

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(Pine Mountain Sage) Small but numerous, violet and deep purple flowers surrounded by pink bracts are sprinkled throughout this well-branched,shrubby sage like confections. This is one of the showiest Salvias we grow.

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(Sinaloan Blue Sage) It's difficult to say which trait is more attractive about this sage -- the airy spikes of deep, true blue flowers or the fascinating spear-shaped foliage that varies from deep green to purple, forming a tidy mat.

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(Somalian Mountain Sage) Large, powder-blue flowers combine with 4-inch-long, furry, lime-green leaves -- a winning combination at bloom time from summer into fall. The flowers are unusual, because they generally grow on the branchlets and the terminal end of each stem.
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(Hummingbird Sage or Pitcher Sage) No sage we grow is more attractive to hummingbirds than this one. Spectacular in all ways, it is one of our favorite Salvias with its fragrant, evergreen foliage and jewel-like flowers and bracts.

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(Topanga Hummingbird Sage or Pitcher Sage) Rich pink flowers surrounded by fuzzy, burgundy and green bracts are two of the reasons why this is one of our favorite kinds of Hummingbird Sage. We also love its vigorous, wide-spreading growth.
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