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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:
New at FBTS: Hummingbirds Thrive on Margie Griffith Sage

Posted: Saturday, January 21, 2017
Synopsis:

A love of birds can grow into a passion for gardening. The reverse is also true. Sometimes these passions result in the development of excellent plants, such as Salvia x 'Margie Griffith' -- one of our newest introductions at Flowers by the Sea, our family farm and online nursery. Margie Griffith Sage grows up to 96 inches tall and wide in bloom. In some parts of its USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 8 to 11 it feeds hummingbirds nearly year round.



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Salvia Small Talk: Measuring Soil Drainage

Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Synopsis:

Well-drained soil for Salvias contains a loose mix of clay, coarse sand and organic matter.



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Ask Mr. Sage: Best Time to Plant Drought Resistant CA Natives

Posted: Thursday, September 8, 2016
Synopsis: Drought resistant California native sages thrive when planted in fall. It's easier for roots to become established when soil is warm, air temperatures are cooler and precipitation is increasing. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the Everything Salvias Blog and is based on calls and emails from customers.

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Ask Mr. Sage: What Is Shipping in Boxes Like for Salvias?

Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Synopsis: It's understandable to worry about the condition of plants following shipment in a box. However, Flowers by the Sea Online Plant Nursery is exceedingly careful to make sure your plants arrive in healthy condition. A satisfied customer sent us the photos in this article. Step by step, they illustrate the process of unpacking and hardening off FBTS plants received by 3-day ground delivery more than 1200 miles away from our Northern California farm.

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FBTS Makes Small Increase in Minimum Order Charge

Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Synopsis:

Sometimes small changes help online plant nurseries to stay upbeat and, as the Bee Gees sang, to "keep staying alive." Flowers by the Sea, a specialty online Salvia nursery, has made a small increase in its minimum order fee from $20 to $25 to stay profitable and keep providing a wide variety of popular and rare Salvias and companion plants.



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Sage Experts: Nancy Newfield, Hummingbird Gardener, Part III

Posted: Thursday, July 7, 2016
Synopsis:

It is ironic that one of the least social types of birds inspires so much sociability in human beings. We refer to hummingbirds, which are the object of festivals and the communal effort of bird banding research nationwide. This is the third and final article in a series about renowned hummingbird expert Nancy L. Newfield, who grows many Salvias in her hummingbird gardens. We recount a visit to Louisiana to observe Newfield and her team banding hummingbirds in winter. You'll also find a rainbow of top hummingbird Salvias listed here.

(Photo credit: John Owens)



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Salvia Summit III Meets at Tilden Regional Park in October

Posted: Friday, May 13, 2016
Synopsis:

Botanists, horticulturists and gardening enthusiasts who love the Salvia genus are invited to Salvia Summit III – a global conference taking place from Friday, October 7, to Sunday October 9, 2016 in Berkeley, California. Lectures will be held at the Environmental Education Center of Tilden Regional Park, which is on the Berkeley boundary of the 2,079-acre park.



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Sage Experts: Nancy Newfield, Hummingbird Gardener, Part II

Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2016
Synopsis:

Salvias are among the best hummingbird flowers and red is tops. That's what hummingbird researcher, Nancy L. Newfield began discovering more than 40 years ago. She found that  flower nectar was more attractive than nectar feeders. This is the second article in a 3-part series on Newfield and hummingbird gardening. It includes an excerpt from her book Hummingbird Gardens and an FBTS list of red hummingbird favorites. Bud Hensley photographed the hummingbird pictured here enjoying Salvia subrotunda.



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Ask Mr. Sage: What Is Withering My Native Salvia?

Posted: Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Synopsis:

A California native sage that looks like it is suffering from drought may actually have root disease caused by a water mold called Phytophthora. Natives are affected by types of this pathogen that strike when soil is moist and temperatures are hot. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the Everything Salvias Blog and is based on calls and emails from customers.



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Sage Experts: Nancy Newfield's Hummingbird Journey

Posted: Monday, March 28, 2016
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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Container Gardening Basics: Watering Potted Plants

Posted: Thursday, March 10, 2016
Synopsis: Container plantings are welcome islands of color and fragrance whether in small or large yards. Their emergence signals the pleasures of summer, including icy glasses of lemonade. Potted plants have a mighty thirst, as well. Container garden plans for Salvias and companion plants need to factor in greater frequency of watering than the plants would receive in-ground.

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Getting Started: What Are Salvias?

Posted: Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Synopsis:

Salvias are a broad range of true sages in the mint family that grow worldwide. They include shrubs, perennials, annuals and subshrubs, which share both shrub and perennial characteristics. Flowers by the Sea, an online, mail-order Salvia nursery sells hundreds of Salvias.



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Salvias Down South: Southern California Butterfly Favorites

Posted: Friday, February 19, 2016
Synopsis:

Wildscaping a butterfly-friendly garden in Southern California is an act of kindness, especially toward imperiled species. Gardeners from Santa Barbara southward may want to group coastal sage and chaparral plants in their butterfly gardens, because those are among favorite sources of nectar for adult butterflies and host plants for caterpillars. Sages are popular nectar choices. Plants, such as Milkweeds and Impatiens, that work well both as nectar providers and caterpillar hosts are important additions.



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Getting Started: Salvias for the Midwest

Posted: Saturday, February 13, 2016
Synopsis:

Severe winter chill and summer heat coupled with extreme humidity are challenges that gardeners face in the Midwest. Many Salvias are excellent choices as long-blooming annuals in the region while others -- ones that can withstand cold winters -- are reliable perennials. Flowers by the Sea Online Plant Nursery explains the confusing Midwest boundaries from Ohio west to Kansas and North Dakota south to Missouri. It talks about the range of USDA Plant Hardiness Zones in the region and the kinds of sages that grow best there.



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Salvias Down South: Tough Texans that Look Hot

Posted: Thursday, February 4, 2016
Synopsis:

A little bit of a hot color warms the garden landscape; a lot sizzles. Salvias that are red, orange, salmon and intensely pink make eyes snap to attention when grown en masse or as highlights complementing cool-colored perennials. Texas is home to a number of tough, drought-resistant species that can make a garden look hot. In this article, Flowers by the Sea focuses on nine to light up southern landscapes.



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Sacred Sage: Menorah-Shaped Salvia hierosolymitana Bridges Cultures

Posted: Friday, December 18, 2015
Synopsis:

Heading into the season of long, dark nights and candlelit holiday dinners, it is pleasant to think of the candelabra-shaped Jerusalem Sage (Salvia hierosolymitana) lit up with raspberry and pale pink flowers in spring. It's structure was likely an inspiration during Biblical times for design of the Jewish menorah. Jerusalem Sage grows well in moderate climates and has tasty leaves used in cooking. Historically and in culinary use, it bridges the Arab and Israeli cultures.



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Salvias Down South 15 Sages to Pink Up Landscapes

Posted: Monday, December 14, 2015
Synopsis:

Winter is a good time for warm thoughts about rosy colors pinking up the landscape. Not only is pink pleasant, but it is soothing. As psychologists discovered in the late 20th century, it's also the color of calm. Researchers have identified at least one shade of pink -- a vivid color now known as drunk tank pink -- as lessening aggressive moods of people who are incarcerated. Pink is also a color used in serenity gardens. Flowers by the Sea details 15 pink sages here, some of which bloom in winter.



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Salvia Small Talk: Winter Watering

Posted: Monday, November 23, 2015
Synopsis:

Giving perennials, bushes and trees one or two heavy waterings during winter, on warmer days, prevents root damage



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Drought Praise: Around the World with Sunny Groundcovers

Posted: Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Synopsis: Bring on the sun. Bring on the heat. Bring on the drought-resistant Salvia groundcovers.Flowers by the Sea offers a short list of top groundcovers from around the world for fighting drought. They come from Asia, California, Mexico and Morocco in lavender, purple and pink to do battle against the boring brown caused by water shortage. Similar to gravel, bark chip or pine needle mulch, these groundcovers discourage weeds, cool soil, conserve moisture and add color to gardens. They are living mulch.

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New at FBTS: Butterflies Love Perennial Echeandia Texensis

Posted: Monday, September 7, 2015
Synopsis:

It isn't surprising that the golden flowers of the drought-resistant, perennial Texas Craglily (Echeandia texensis) are tops for attracting butterflies. The plant was first discovered on Green Island in Laguna Madre, which is at the southernmost tip of Texas. The area is part of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, which is home to 300 butterfly species. Texas Craglily is an adaptable plant that grows well both in dry and somewhat damp conditions and from California to the Southeast. But it is a rare species that may be threatened by land development and the U.S./Mexico border fence.



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Getting Started: Salvias for Zone 9

Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Synopsis:

California's small, Mohave Desert city of Barstow averages about 5 inches of rain annually. Across the continent, Pensacola, Florida, has more than double Barstow's population and more than 12 times its amount of rainfall. Yet both cities are part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Plant Hardiness Zone 9 where you can plant perennials and shrubs that survive winter lows ranging from 20 to 30 degrees F. Flowers by the Sea takes readers on a triple coast road trip of Zone 9 and suggests plantings for varied growing conditions along the way.



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Four Top Drought-Resistant Perennials for Dry Shade

Posted: Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Synopsis: Searching for shade-tolerant plants is difficult. Finding ones that grow well in dry conditions, especially as groundcovers, is even more challenging. Flowers by the Sea talks about different types of shade and four drought-resistant perennials for these varying levels of sun exposure. It also explains how to search the company's extensive product menu.

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Made for Shade: Japanese Woodland Salvias

Posted: Friday, August 21, 2015
Synopsis:

Sturdy, shade-loving Japanese Salvias are lovely additions to woodland gardens with their lush, large-leafed foliage and delicate-looking flowers in colors including pinks, purples and yellows. They're ideal for bordering shady paths where they invite visitors to pause for close-up views. Flowers by the Sea suggests Japanese species for woodland gardens and organizes them according to their cold hardiness.



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Ask Mr. Sage: What Salvias Grow Well in Containers?

Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Synopsis: What kinds of Salvias are good choices for potting? Ask Mr. Sage, a regular feature of our Everything Salvias Blog, says the answer is many. In this post, Mr. Sage suggests some surprising combinations for potting and explains how to navigate the Flowers by the Sea Online Nursery catalog to find Salvias and companion plants appropriate for container gardening.

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Drought Praise: Hot Pink and Purple Autumn Bloomers

Posted: Wednesday, August 12, 2015
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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