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 You are here    Flowers by the Sea / Everything Salvias

We began publishing our Everything Salvias blog in 2010 for your enjoyment and to help you "get it right" when growing sages that are often unavailable at local garden centers.

It seems like there is an endless bounty of stories to be told. But that's to be expected when covering a genus containing an estimated 900 species -- the largest group within the mint family (Lamiaceae). In addition to Salvias, we write about other species that are either mint family members or low-water companions for our many drought-tolerant Salvias. We welcome comments as well as suggestions for future blog posts.

To access articles rapidly based on your interests, please click on the categories below, which include do-it-yourself videos (Views from the Garden). But please note: This is a dangerous place for a sage lover.

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Here are all of our articles:
Sage Experts: Nancy Newfield's Hummingbird Journey

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2019
Synopsis:

Renowned hummingbird bander Nancy Newfield of southern Louisiana shares her journey from 1970s stay-at-home mom to citizen scientist and one of the nation's leading hummingbird researchers. This is the first article in a three-part series about Newfield's work and gardens, which abound with Salvias to feed hungry hummingbirds that overwinter in her suburban yard near New Orleans. It includes plant lists and the Louisiana Winter Hummingbird Project tally of banded hummingbirds from 1979 to 2015.



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Celebrity Salvias: Mexican Bush Sage Beauties

Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2019
Synopsis:

Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) is a garden star, but not a demanding diva. That is why Texas A&M University selected Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) as one of its 50 “Texas Superstar” plants, all of which are highly recommended for flourishing in unpredictable weather and drought. The many varieties of Mexican Bush Sage are garden beauties that need little pampering. Native to hot, dry areas of Mexico and Central America, they are accustomed to tough conditions. Flowers by the Sea carries a number of striking varieties.

 



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Sacred Sage: Salvia coccinea -- An American Subtropical Treasure

Posted: Monday, September 2, 2019
Synopsis:

Although it probably originated somewhere in Mexico, Tropical Sage (Salvia coccinea) existed in the American Southeast prior to European exploration of the New World, so it is considered an American native. It's also native to Central and South America and has naturalized in parts of Europe and Africa. Medical researchers think its phytochemicals may fight illnesses caused by inflammation and oxidative stress from free radicals.



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Sacred Sage: Giant Bolivian Sage

Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2019
Synopsis:

Of all the mint family's more than 6,500 species worldwide, Giant Bolivian Sage (Salvia dombeyi) has the longest blossoms and tallest growth. Each tubular crimson flower grows up to 5 inches long and has a burgundy calyx at its base.The plant's bright green, heart-shaped leaves are equally long. In South America, the flowers are pollinated by hummingbirds with extremely long beaks. However, Giant Bolivian Sage don't need pollination to flower beautifully for many seasons if growing conditions are right.



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Drought Praise: Hot Pink and Purple Autumn Bloomers

Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2019
Synopsis:

Late summer is a good time to plant at the coolest times of day. Settling in Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) and Mountain Sage (S. microphylla) before Indian summer will give their roots a chance for strong growth so they can withstand winter's chill and leaf out again next spring. These drought-resistant species are closely related and hybridize freely when they meet. They also cross with other sages they encounter. FBTS details seven pink and purple varieties that bloom off and on spring to fall.



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Summer & Early Fall Pruning of Autumn and Mountain Sage

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019
Synopsis:

Summer and fall pruning of Salvias requires only light trimming of spent blossoms, which is known as deadheading. It increases bloom for Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) and Mountain Sage (Salvia microphylla), which are particularly abundant bloomers in autumn. In this video from Northern California's Flowers by the Sea farm, FBTS horticulturist and co-owner Kermit Carter shows how to use sharp hand pruners to quickly remove flower spikes that have gone to seed. Carter explains how flowering plants have less energy to put into blossoming if they are setting seed. Removal of spent blossoms improves a plant's appearance and makes continuous bloom possible. FBTS specializes in the Salvia genus, which contains about 1,000 species. This video is part of FBTS Everything Salvias Blog series Views from the Garden.



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July in the Salvia Garden

Posted: Thursday, July 4, 2019
Synopsis:

July is a time of lush plant growth and pollinator activity in Salvia gardens. Aside from weeding and taking breaks to watch bees, hummingbirds and other small wildlife, there are many tasks to attend to in the sage garden during July. Flowers by the Sea Farm and Online Nursery offers a list of midsummer tasks to keep your garden buzzing and blooming.



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Book Review: Stop. . .and Smell the Mints

Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2019
Synopsis:

Randy Collins was surprised when he got hooked on horticulture following retirement. But after a move to South Carolina, he was even more surprised at how deer destroyed his gardens until he began growing lots of mint family (Lamiaceae) plants like Salvias. It inspired him to write Stop...and Smell the Mints.



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Getting Started: How Much Water Salvias Need

Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2019
Synopsis:

Salvias may need little or lots of water depending on species and local growing conditions. Many are drought resistant, getting by on less than an inch a week. Learn about the many kinds of Salvias, also called sages, at Flowers by the Sea. We're an online, mail-order nursery specializing in sages.



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6 Salvias for Shade

Posted: Sunday, June 23, 2019
Synopsis:

Most gardeners associate plants in the genus Salvia with full sun, rocky soil, drought and semi-arid native lands. Although a number of sages fit this picture, far more appreciate loamy, fertile garden soil. Some require lots of water. Also, a large number of sages thrive in partial shade, and some tolerate full shade. Here are six of the many shade lovers that Flowers by the Sea grows.



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Ask Mr. Sage: Why Do Back-in-Stock Plants Disappear?

Posted: Sunday, June 23, 2019
Synopsis:

When FBTS plants are out of stock, customers have the option of receiving email notification when they are available again. But a back-in-stock alert doesn't indicate the quantity available. Sometimes there are few and sometimes many. Getting what you want requires quick response. Ask Mr. Sage, a regular feature of the FBTS Everything Salvias Blog, responds to customer questions.



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New at FBTS: Suncrest Salvias

Posted: Sunday, June 23, 2019
Synopsis:

Drought-resistant, heat-tolerant, vibrantly colored Suncrest Salvias (sages) have arrived at Flowers by the Sea and will be available for shipping in April. Suncrest Salvias are floriferous hybrids of species native to the American Southwest and Mexico, including Mountain Sage (Salvia microphylla), Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii), Jame Sage (Salvia x jamensis) and Royal Purple Autumn Sage (Salvia muelleri).



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Portraits in Gardening: Michael and Kathi Rock's Hummingbird Journey

Posted: Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Synopsis:

A wedding gift led to Kathi Johnson Rock and Michael Rock's passion for hummingbirds. These Wisconsin birders offer tips and plant suggestions for hummingbird gardeners at FBTS. Although now known as Madison's "Hummingbird People," the Rocks aren't ornithologists or biologists. They are home gardeners and customers of Flowers by the Sea who discovered the power of nectar-rich Salvias and companion plants to fuel hummingbird migration. This article includes a list favorite hummingbird plants found in the Rocks' gardens.



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How David Verity Cuphea Became a Famous Hummingbird Flower

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2019
Synopsis:

When massed in borders or standing out as a main attraction in a container planting, Cuphea x ‘David Verity’ is a visual feast for people as well as an actual feast for small wildlife. Rich in nectar, the plant’s dainty, cigar-shaped, orange-red flowers nestle amid a cloud of mid-green leaves shaped like tiny garden trowels.



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Ask Mr Sage: What Kind of Plant Is a Clone?

Posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Synopsis:

It's helpful to understand botanical terminology such as clone, variety, and cultivar. Mr. Sage explains what the three words mean and how the processes of cloning and plant development work. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the FBTS Everything Salvias Blog and is based on questions from customers.



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New at FBTS: Ember's Wish & Love and Wishes Salvias

Posted: Friday, June 7, 2019
Synopsis:

Plants contribute to our lives in many ways -- as sources of beauty, building materials, clothing, food, fragrance, medicine and oxygen. Add hope and fulfillment to the list, because that is what three abundantly blooming Salvias from Australia add to the lives of seriously ill children. These plants form the Wish Collection -- Wendy's Wish Sage, Ember's Wish Sage, and Love and Wishes Sage. Flowers by the Sea is one of the first online nurseries in America to sell all three. Although we have grown and sold Wendy's Wish for a number of years, Ember's Wish and Love and Wishes are new at FBTS.



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Book Reviews: Three Top Reads for Dry Gardening

Posted: Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Synopsis:

Don’t think “drab” when you hear the phrase “dry garden.” With guidance from good books and a willingness to experiment, you can create colorful flowerbeds and landscapes that require little to no supplemental watering. Here is a quick overview of three books that are excellent resources about sustainable dry gardening.



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Colorful Salvias Break Myth of Dry Garden Drabness

Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Synopsis:

Dry gardens are flowerbeds or entire landscapes based on ornamental perennials that require little to no watering once well rooted. Many Salvias are excellent, drought-resistant choices for these gardens. Flowers by the Sea Farm and Online Nursery talks about dry garden myths as well as low-water plants. 



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Himalayan Sage Is the Salvia Collector's Holy Grail: Part 2

Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2019
Synopsis:

Plants don’t have voices but they have stories to tell, including tales of discovery. It’s easy to see why the early 18th century plant explorer Victor Jacquemont would have paused to collect the rare Salvia hians while traversing broad expanses of northwestern India. This second half of our article about the alluring species digs into its history.  



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Himalayan Sage Is the Salvia Collector’s Holy Grail: Part 1

Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2019
Synopsis:

For plant collectors, a mystique surrounds rare species like Salvia hians (Himalayan or Kashmir Sage). This is especially true when there is uncertainty about what the plant should look like. Perhaps the most famous image of S. hians is a 2012 photograph of UK plant collector Chris Chadwell next to an abundantly blooming stand of large violet-blue flowers with white lower lips. Why doesn’t the Flowers by the See variety of this rare species look exactly like the plant Chadwell found — a plant that seems to be the Holy Grail of Salvia collectors? We’ll do our best to explain.



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Ten Favorite Flowers for Butterflies and Hummingbirds

Posted: Monday, March 25, 2019
Synopsis:

Flowers that butterflies and hummingbirds favor are rich sources of nectar. But not all nectar-rich butterfly favorites are easy to access with long hummingbird beaks. Conversely, many flowers designed by nature to attract hummingbirds don't have the structure necessary for feeding butterflies or providing a perch. Here are ten Salvias and companion plants for backyard wildlife habitat that both butterflies and hummingbirds will enjoy.

 



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Ask Mr. Sage: What Tropical Sage Should I Select?

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2019
Synopsis:

Selecting the right types of Tropical Sage (Salvia coccinea) can be confusing when viewing them in a catalog and seeing similar flower colors. Yet they may differ in cultivation needs, foliage, heat tolerance, and size. Mr. Sage offers ideas for comparing differences and similarities. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the FBTS Everything Salvias Blog, which responds to questions from customers.



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6 Indispensable Hummingbird Flowers for Long, Easy Bloom

Posted: Monday, March 18, 2019
Synopsis:

Hummingbirds are like tiny combat jets dive bombing each other when staking claim to the nectar-rich flowers they need for survival. Fights over nectar habitat can reduce hummingbird gardens to single occupancy. FBTS Farm and Online Nursery details and tells stories about its top six hummingbird flowers. Plant lots of them to accommodate a village of hungry hummers.

 



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Quick Digs: Inventorying Salvias and Tools for Spring Gardening

Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2019
Synopsis:

This is the first article in our new Quick Digs series about preparing for spring in Salvia gardens. As spring approaches and daylight grows longer, first steps for preparing Salvia gardening include recording sages already planted before planning new purchases, repotting cuttings and seedlings, inventorying garden tools and turning the compost heap. When the first new growth arrives, you'll be prepared to remove weeds before they choke sages and other perennials that are re-emerging.



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