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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.

Explore the Categories:

Here are all of our articles:
Ask Mr. Sage: How FBTS Chooses New Salvias

Posted: Saturday, August 8, 2015
Synopsis: Some Salvia collectors want to obtain a broad range of sages including all the new introductions on the market. But Flowers by the Sea can't and doesn't want to grow all the new cultivars available, partly because there is a growing abundance of Salvia introductions. Instead, FBTS focuses on selecting the most superior new plants even when introducing its own hybrids in its series of Rainbow Jame Sages. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature based on calls and emails received by FBTS.

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Ask Mr. Sage: What Is Average Watering?

Posted: Thursday, August 6, 2015
Synopsis: Confusion about watering of plants is understandable, because moisture needs vary so much from one species to another. It also varies based on your local growing conditions. Ask Mr. Sage, a regular feature of the Everything Salvias blog at Flowers by the Sea Online Plant Nursery, explains the differences between the labels drought resistant, average water and water loving classifications for estimating water needs. Some FBTS average water plants also grow well in dry or damp settings.

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Drought Praise: 5 Hot Red Salvias for Hummingbirds

Posted: Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Synopsis: Hummingbirds love the nectar of Salvias, particularly red ones, which they can see but bees can't. Also, unlike most birds, hummingbirds can taste sweets and seek out flowers that produce lots of sugary nectar. However, nectar can be difficult to come by during drought. The Salvia genus is well known for its bright flowers, rich nectar and many drought-tolerant plants. We suggest five bright red, drought-tolerant Salvias that hummingbirds love.

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Drought Praise: 3 Low-Water Plants for a Fragrant Walkway

Posted: Monday, July 27, 2015
Synopsis: Fragrant Salvias and companion plants are excellent choices for entryways. Drought-tolerant plants from naturally dry climates, such as the three featured here, often have a pleasant, resinous fragrance that lingers in memory. Flowers by the Sea promotes water conservation by posting "drought praise" for favorite xeric (low water) plants. Here we suggest three pleasingly fragrant choices for a border making the entry to your home soothing and welcoming.

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Battles in the Salvia Garden: Controlling Spider Mites - Part II

Posted: Monday, July 27, 2015
Synopsis: Pollinators lose important food sources when Salvias and other nectar-rich flowers are destroyed by spider mites. This is Part 2 of a two-part series about understanding and overcoming these dangerous pests. Along with the non-chemical interventions described in Part 1 of this series, gardeners sometimes need the help of predatory insects and mites, insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils. Pesticides called miticides may also eventually be necessary, but should be the last resort.

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Drought Praise: 5 Blue-Tag Beauties for Dry Gardens

Posted: Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Synopsis: If you live in a semi-arid climate where rain is a vague memory and the soil is crunchy with gravel, you may find yourself praising the color and resilience of blue-tag plants from Flowers by the Sea. Not all of our drought tolerant plants fall into the blue-tag category. Yet ones that do are extremely capable at surviving with little water. FBTS explains plant care and offers five favorite drought-resistant species.

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Battles in the Salvia Garden: Controlling Spider Mites - Part I

Posted: Sunday, July 19, 2015
Synopsis: Salvias often suffer when spider mites become legion in gardens. This is Part 1 of a two-part series about understanding and overcoming these dangerous pests. As summer temperatures rise, so do the numbers of the family Tetranychidae -- spider mites -- especially if conditions are dry. Controlling spider mites in your Salvia garden may be as simple as keeping plants hydrated and regularly spraying the little nippers off foliage. Or it may take a number of interventions, including biological controls, such as predatory mites, as well as the use of insecticidal soaps, oils and pesticides

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Container Gardening Basics: Selecting and Arranging Pots

Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2015
Synopsis: Assembling a new planter with fresh potting soil and young plants is a feel-good activity similar to moving into a new home. Each pot and property is full of promise. Placing a single plant or a grouping in the right size of pot is like selecting a starter home for it that will encourage healthy growth. The type of material a pot is made from also affects development. Flowers by the Sea Online Salvia Nursery explains how to choose correct pot sizes as well as pot styles, sizes, colors and arrangements. Don't miss The Flowerpot Men music video!

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Praise for Top 10 Lesser-Known Drought-Resistant Salvias

Posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Synopsis: Eco-vigilantes. That's what some newspapers call smartphone users who post photos and videos tagged droughtshaming on Twitter and other social media documenting careless water use by celebrities, everyday homeowners and businesses, especially in Southern California.

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Container Gardening Basics: Selecting a Good Potting Mix

Posted: Saturday, July 11, 2015
Synopsis: Why is regular garden soil a poor choice for container gardening, and why is sterilized, soilless potting mix better. The term "sterilized" indicates that a potting medium is free of pathogens, weed seed and toxins. "Soilless" means that although it contains organic and inorganic matter, it isn't a garden soil. One of the main reasons to use a soilless mix is that it allows water to drain better in a confined space. Flowers by the Sea explains the basics of potting mixes and why no one recipe fits all needs.

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Getting Started: What Is Drought and Xeriscaping

Posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Synopsis: Drought is a shortage of precipitation over a season or more as in California where four years of drastic declines in rainfall and snowpack have created severe watering cutbacks. Drought is also defined by what and whom it affects from agriculture to homeowners. Flowers by the Sea Farm and Online Nursery explains drought and xeriscape, a water-conserving form of landscaping that is effective for gardening during drought and in dry climates. This article is part of the FBTS Getting Started series for gardeners becoming acquainted with Salvias (true sages). It includes a brief list of drought-resistant sages.

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Creating Oases in Dry Yards With FBTS Container Gardens​

Posted: Monday, July 6, 2015

Container gardening likely began in ancient Egypt with Pharaoh Ramesses III who created garden cities lined with potted trees and papyrus plants. Ramesses didn't have a mail-order plant nursery like Flowers by the Sea to help him determine what to grow and how to do it. He also didn't have three-day mail delivery. But you don't have minions to help you plan and plant your landscape. So FBTS has designed discounted container kits for a variety of growing conditions, including drought.

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White Sage

Posted: Friday, July 3, 2015
Synopsis: Bees and hummingbirds love the perennial subshrub Sacred White Sage (Salvia apiana) with its soaring spikes of white-to-lavender flowers that visually cool the landscape along with its large rosettes of lance-shaped, greenish-white foliage. Sacred White Sage is far more than a pretty native plant of California. Historically, it provided food and medicine for a number of Native American tribes along the Pacific Coast. Today, bundles of Sacred White Sage leaves are still tied together to create torch-like wands called smudge sticks for fragrant purification ceremonies far beyond the Native American community.

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The Roseleaf Sage Group: Who's Who & What's What

Posted: Sunday, June 28, 2015

Differentiating between the plants in a closely related group can feel similar to being an outsider attending a large family reunion. Identifying who's who and how they are connected is a challenge. That's the way it is with Mexico's Roseleaf Sage (Salvia involucrata) Group, which is well loved by hummingbirds. One thing that may be confusing about the various cultivars and hybrids in the group is their abundance of puffy, tubular, magenta flowers. FBTS Online Plant Nursery grows a number of species from the group. Read more to learn about the randy Roseleaf Sage Group that hybridizes freely and includes many species that bloom in in winter.

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Growing Habitat: Three Tough Milkweeds to Help Monarchs

Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2015
Synopsis: Flowers by the Sea Farm and Online Plant Nursery is serious about wildlife gardening and grows a number of milkweed species considered among the best for supporting Monarch butterflies. Three of the nursery's toughest, loveliest milkweeds are Indian Milkweed (Asclepias eriocarpa), Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) and Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Read about the history of milkweeds and the reasons why Monarch butterflies are threatened due to a shortage of these tough yet lovely plants caused by herbicides.  Learn how herbicides and pesticides harm Monarchs and other milkweed-loving pollinators.

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Getting Started: Salvias for the Southwest

Posted: Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Synopsis: Ask anyone to describe the American Southwest, and they're likely to sum it up in three letters : "D-R-Y." Yet precipitation can vary a lot here state by state and even within different parts of the individual states. One thing that is consistent about the story of water throughout the Southwest, is that rain and snow can rapidly swing from famine to feast to misfortune.

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New at FBTS: Two New Himalayan Salvias from Chris Chadwell

Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2015
Synopsis: Yellow Salvias are rare, and so are professional plant explorers. Add to this list another rarity -- the availability online of high altitude, Himalayan plants grown from seed collected in the wild. Flowers by the Sea, our Northern California horticultural farm and online plant nursery, obtained seed for two new Salvias from British botanist and plant explorer Chris Chadwell. We're not certain that both plants are yellow-flowered Campanula Leaf Sage (Salvia campanulata), but FBTS is beginning sales now as we test these vigorous plants. Chadwell is an independent plantsman who supports his treks and research by selling shares in the results of his expeditions. FBTS is a subscriber. Himalayan Gloxinia (Incarvillea arguta) is another of our plants from Chadwell seed.

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Getting Started: Salvias for Zone 8

Posted: Thursday, May 14, 2015
Synopsis: Rainfall often is heavy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 8. It swings in a deep, broad arc from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast and back up the East Coast to the northeast edge of Virginia. What all its diverse areas have in common climatically is an average low winter temperature of 10 degrees F. Flowers by the Sea Online Nursery discusses growing conditions and how to select Salvias for your part of Zone 8 whether wet or dry.

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Getting Started: Salvias for the Coastal Southeast

Posted: Saturday, May 2, 2015
Synopsis: True sages are members of the Salvia genus and number in the hundreds. They are native to a wide variety of environments worldwide, which is why some are ideal for the dry gardens of California and others can handle the abundant moisture of the American Southeast. Flowers by the Sea raises many sages that grow well in the Southeast, including some that are either native to the region or have jumped fences from gardens into the wild.

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Getting Started: Salvias for New England

Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2015
Synopsis: Some people think you only find sage and coyotes out West. But Canis latrans, the Eastern Coyote, slipped into New England in the 1930s, and who knows when all the sages arrived? The New England Wild Flower Society notes that Lyreleaf Sage (Salvia lyrata) is the region's only native sage. It's one among many Salvia species grown in the Botanic Garden of Smith College in Massachusetts, which has one of the largest collections of sage in the region. Flowers by the Sea Online Plant Nursery raises hundreds of sages, including many northeastern favorites.

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Container Gardening: 32 Salvias and Companions for Hanging Baskets

Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Synopsis: As summer nears, it's time to prepare hanging baskets for patios, front entries and other locations that lend themselves to an aerial display of lush greenery and colorful blossoms. This year, don't just settle for what is familiar; make room for cascading Salvias and waterwise companion plants. Flowers by the Sea has selected 32 favorite plants that arch, tumble, form globes of bloom and otherwise perform beautifully aloft.

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Cultivating Color: New FBTS Tools Aid Garden Design

Posted: Saturday, April 25, 2015
Synopsis: Have we got tools for you! No, we aren't selling Ginzu clippers, rust-free shovels, a miraculous compost-in-minutes machine or anything requiring payments. We're talking about a set of color tools for accurately visualizing and comparing the floral and foliage colors of Salvias. As you wander through the riot of hues in our online catalog at Flowers by the Sea, these tools aid plant selection and landscape planning. Beginning in fall 2014, we began identifying the colors of all FBTS plants based on the internationally standardized color system published by the U.K.'s Royal Horticultural Society. This improves descriptions of plant colors and makes color comparisons of plants easier for garden design.

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Sacred Sage: Healing and Educating with Clary Sage

Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Synopsis: For American colonists, the home medicine cabinet was the kitchen garden just beyond the entry to their homes. Many of the plants in these 'dooryard gardens' were herbs used for multiple purposes, including serving as medicines. The New England Unit of the Herb Society of America notes that perennial Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) was common in these gardens. Clary Sage can also be found in the colonial garden of Johnson Elementary in Natick, Massachusetts. The garden is located in the Johnson Outdoor Classroom, which is part of a nationwide movement -- No Child Left Inside -- to mandate outdoor education. June is national 'Leave No Child Inside Month' -- a time for learning through relaxing outdoor activities. But the entire growing season is a ripe opportunity for field trips to the garden.

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Salvia Companions: Kentish Hero Pouch Flowers

Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Synopsis: An ancient Welsh chieftain was the inspiration for the common name of Kentish Hero Pouch Flower (Calceolaria integrifolia 'Kentish Hero'). Bright orange as a pumpkin, its plump, prolific blossoms bloom from spring into summer lighting up perennial gardens. This is a water-loving member of the snapdragon family (Scrophulariaceae) that grows well in sun and partial shade.

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A Gardeners Guide to Hummingbird Sage

Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2015
Synopsis: Among the hummers' favorites: Salvia spathacea, commonly known as Hummingbird Sage. As it name suggests, this California native produces the hummingbirds' flower of choice, blooming from late winter through summer -- and sometimes again in Fall -- with rose-pink to magenta blossoms. Available in six varieties, this robust perennial not only attracts hummers with its abundant nectar, it's easy to grow and enhances any landscape with its aromatic blooms and fragrant evergreen foliage.

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