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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Florida is one of the wettest states in the nation, yet it is a fine place to grow Salvias if you select shade-tolerant, moisture-loving species and ones native to Florida. Gardeners who are accustomed to growing Salvias in a dry climate face a variety of surprises in Florida gardens. These include recurrent periods of drought, many cloudy days and soil that is so poor it has to be amended for Salvias.
Native plants are the best ones for local conditions. But sometimes boundaries designating what is native may be artificial. Here are five outstanding Xeric Salvias for Southern California, including one, not far over the Baja border, that offers intense drought resistance and violet-blue flowers.
To create a successful xeriscape garden, planning and design are essential. Planning helps you make better choices, which saves time, money and effort as well as water. A little bit of wisdom from ancient Native American practices doesn’t hurt either. While soil improvement is always helpful, it should be moderate for xeric Salvias, such as Autumn Sage and Mealy Cup Sage. Finally, pruning and thinning, strategic groupings of plants for frugal watering and mulching for protection against severe heat or winter chill all were key to ancient Southwestern agriculture as well as modern xeriscaping.
How Xeriscape Won the West: Feast or famine: thatâ€™s the water situation out West. Unexpected torrential rains, flash floods and long periods of drought are acts of God that people can partially control through water diversion and storage as well as strategic conservation. Low-water landscaping -- coined as "xeriscape" by a Denver environmental planner -- has become popular in the West in the last 30 years.
Lush but not lushes - that's one way you might sum up the majority of Salvias. Despite their long bloom times and bushy foliage, Salvias don't generally belly up to the water hose. Overall, they are perfect for xeriscape gardening -- the art of creating great beauty in the garden while conserving water.
Sometimes USDA plant hardiness zones are more flexible than they seem if local microclimates allow a broader range of cold tolerance.
Salvias are not a favorite food for deer. However, they will eat some when plants they consider tasty are in short supply. There is no such thing as deer-proof plants, but you can limit deer damage to your landscaping and vegetable garden by planting lots of sages and other plants that aren't among deer favorites.
Nothing says holidays like the fragrance of sage coming from the kitchen. It has even inspired writers, such as newspaper columnist and mystery novelist Denise Hamilton. Sage is the stuff of musky perfumes, fragrant Christmas candles and great homecooked meals cooking in the kitchen. It wraps us in the warmth as well as the chill of the season.
Sage-crusted tofu patties are a good vegetarian main course for the Holidays.
An Excel spreadsheet can be helpful in tracking Salvia plantings.
Flowers by the Sea grows a number of native California sages, including threatened species such as the woody perennial shrubs Santa Rosa Island Sage (Salvia brandegeei) and Island Pitcher Sage (Lepechinia fragrans). Elusive is one adjective to attach to both plants, because they are rare in their native Channel Islands homelands off the coast of Southern California where they are endangered.
The conclusion of this series on plant names.
Latin became the language of botanical plant names more than 250 years ago to clear confusion about scientific reports concerning plants. Theophrastus got this all started in the 4th Century B.C.
Blue Salvias bring peace to flower gardens. True blues, such as West Texas Grass Sage (Salvia reptans), are especially eye-catching. The same anthocyanins that make berries a healthy dietary choice also give them their colors. Similarly these chemicals create the wide variety of blues, purples and reds in the petals of flowers such as Salvias. Flowers by the Sea offers six varieties of tough Texas sages that can help you create a soulful garden bursting with blue. Drought-resistant and long-blooming, they grow happily in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 to 9, with some flourishing in areas as cool as Zone 4 and as hot as Zone 11.
Fresh Sage gives a simple pesto recipe new zing.
Wildscaping is a way to landscape to attract pollinators. Butterflies are one of the most important. In Texas there are 463 species. Steering some of this herd of Lepidoptera toward your yard is easier if you know what butterflies frequent your region and which plants they favor for nectar and for laying their eggs, including Salvias. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Flowers by the Sea all can help Southwestern butterfly gardeners.
If you want to invite butterflies to lodge in your backyard overnight or during winter, building pretty butterfly houses won't succeed. They need all kinds of messy hangouts to ride out a rain storm, sleep through the night safely and endure winter in your garden. You can build a butterfly hostel without hammer and nails.
Raised bed gardening can help Salvias winter over in cold climates.
Many kinds of Sage were considered sacred in ancient times due to their soothing, medicinal qualities. Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans), which is native to Mexico and Guatemala, is still a highly regarded folk remedy for relieving anxiety, depression and high blood pressure. It is also one of America's most popular culinary sages and is a highlight of the USDA's National Herb Garden.
Half-hardy or tender perennial Salvias are ones that must winter over indoors to avoid frost.
If grey, moldy Botrytis Blight attacks Salvia, whole plants may need to be discarded.
Well-drained soil for Salvias contains a loose mix of clay, coarse sand and organic matter.