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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not everyone who lives in a dry climate wants a cactus garden. And not all cottage gardens are filled with pansies and peonies. Flowers by the Sea highlights ten tough perennial Salvias in pastels for low-water cottage gardens. The palette of drought-resistant choices includes sages with blue, lavender, peach, pink and yellow flowers for a soothing touch in your landscape.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. FBTS Online Plant Nursery grows a number of species from this winter-blooming group.
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.
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.
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.