Elk Rainbow Sages
Elk Rainbow Sages

Rainbow of Salvia x jamensis

Elk Rainbow Sages

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When most Salvia gardeners think about Salvia x jamensis, they visualize pastels. However, development of these Jame Sage hybrids is rapidly expanding to contain a broader range of flower colors from soft to intense and bright. An example is our new series of Jame Sages called Elk Rainbow Sages, which include bright solids, soft pastels and glowing bicolors in blues, pinks, purples, oranges, reds, yellows and whites depending on what Salvias crossed to create them.

However, one unerring distinction between Jame Sages and other hybrid Salvias is that, whatever plants are in the Jame Sage mix, both Autumn Sage ( Salvia greggii) and Mountain Sage (Salvia microphylla) parentage is always involved. These species are native to the drylands and mountains of the American Southwest and Mexico. The first ones collected were found as a genetic swarm near the tiny Mexican village of Jame (no s), located in Central Mexico where the eastern and western Sierra Madre mountains meet.

Although the unusual flower colors of Jame Sages are a major key to their identification, other aspects of appearance need to be considered, such as bloom shape, foliage and plant size. Similar to Autumn and Mountain Sage, a Jame Sage has flowers with a wide, skirt-like lower lip.

Although the foliage of Autumn and Mountain Sage vary somewhat in size and appearance, they are good clues when determining the parentage of many Jame Sages. However, some Jame Sages have foliage of different sizes, textures and colors (gray to deep green) than Autumn and Mountain Sage. The lineage of Jame Sages may include species such as Coahuila Sage ( S. coehuilensis), Mexican Sage (S. darcyi) and Canyon Sage (S. lycioides).

Height and spread also indicate differences in parental species. When looking at the entire Jame Sage group, its broad height range -- from 12 to 48 inches -- stands out from both Autumn and Mountain Sage and indicates additional botanical lineage. For example, unlike many plants in the S. greggii/S. microphylla group, some of our shorter Elk Rainbow Sages show promise as groundcovers due to matting growth.

A sage's habit of growth -- such as its cultivation needs and bloom season -- also help to identify it as a Jame Sage versus another kind of Salvia hybrid. For example, Jame Sage hybrids are heat and drought tolerant as are Autumn and Mountain Sage. Regarding sunlight requirements, Jame Sage loves full sun similar to Autumn Sage. But like Mountain Sage, it tolerates more shade and moisture than the other species. As with both key parents, Jame Sage blooms from spring into fall and may slow down in the deep heat of summer.

Finally, similar to both Autumn and Mountain Sage, Jame Sage hybrids are great at attracting tiny wildlife, including hummingbirds.

We developed the Elk Rainbow Series at our farm on the Northern California coast near the town of Elk. Jame Sages adapt well to a cooler, moister climate than that of their semi-arid homelands. Each Jame Sage hybrid that we select for development has Elk in its name. That way you know that it is an FBTS cultivar guaranteed to be a reliable repeat performer.

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