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 You are here    Flowers by the Sea /

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 to Control Snails

Posted: Sunday, March 30, 2014
Synopsis:

Ask Mr. Sage is a Q&A feature from Flowers by the Sea. This one talks about how to ward off snails and slugs safely through simple organic methods, including barriers and handpicking, as well as through careful use of iron-phosphate pesticides. It also talks about how to nurse damaged Salvias back to health.



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Book Review: Nature-Friendly Garden by Marlene A. Condon

Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2014
Synopsis:

Reading Marlene A. Condon's Nature-Friendly Garden is like observing a game of toppling dominoes. All the pieces are lined up standing on end in a complex, maze-like pattern. Flick one domino and the whole structure tumbles. Similarly, the author shows how simple choices we make in our gardens have consequences that can build or destroy wildlife habitat.



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Salvia Small Talk: Flowers by the Sea Is Monarch Waystation 7671

Posted: Friday, March 7, 2014
Synopsis:

Flowers by the Sea recently received classification as a certified Monarch Waystation by Monarch Watch. When you purchase milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.) from FBTS or seed from Monarch Watch, you can grow your own waystation and help Monarchs start making a comeback from their precipitous decline of recent years.



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Our Paperless Catalog Is Wallet-Friendly and Ecofriendly

Posted: Sunday, March 2, 2014
Synopsis:

Customers often ask us how they can receive a print catalog of the hundreds of plants grown and sold by our nursery, Flowers by the Sea. The answer is that we have never printed a catalog and never will for financial, managerial and environmental reasons. We prefer our online-only garden catalog, because it is wallet-friendly, encourages diversity in the garden, offers efficiency and helps protect the environment. However, we now offer printable versions of our product pages. With the quick click of a button, this function allows you to print only what you need.



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Book Review: Lawn Gone! Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard

Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014
Synopsis:

Lawn Gone by Texas landscaper and garden writer Pam Penick concerns replacement or minimization of lawns through xeriscape, the art of planting attractive waterwise landscapes. Penick redefines suburban yards through designs including perennial groundcovers and small shrubs -- such as Autumn Sages (Salvia greggii spp.) -- as well as ornamental grasses, sedges and hardscape, including water features. Flowers by the Sea specializes in Salvias and other xeriscapic plants.



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Rapid Navigation of the FBTS Everything Salvias Blog

Posted: Monday, February 10, 2014
Synopsis:

To make it easier for you to access articles in our rapidly growing Everything Salvias blog, we have expanded our index of special topics. You'll discover choices including categories for butterfly and hummingbird gardening, how-to videos, shade gardening and xeriscape.



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20 Heavenly Sages and Companions for Hellstrips

Posted: Sunday, February 2, 2014
Synopsis:

Some gardeners call them parking strip or drive-strip gardens. Others bestow the more genteel names of tree-lawn or boulevard garden on these attempts to beautify the scraggly, grassy, weed-ridden verges between sidewalk and street. Then there is the most popular name of all, hellstrips, which garden writer and designer Lauren Springer Ogden coined. One colorful solution to the hell strip is to plant short, tough sages and equally drought-resistant companion plants.



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Upcoming at FBTS: Hummingbirds Love Cute Cupheas

Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2013
Synopsis:

Bright orange, tube-shaped blossoms cover Cuphea x 'David Verity' like tiny windsocks blowing in a breeze and beckoning hummingbirds. Similar to Salvias, Cupheas are rich sources of nectar that fuel hummingbird migration. At Flowers by the Sea, we are always interested in expanding choices for creating wildlife habitat. So we are growing a wide variety of Cupheas for sale this coming spring, including David Verity.



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Quick Digs: Prepping and Overwintering in Salvia Gardens

Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Synopsis:

In autumn, even while the days are bright and balmy, you may find yourself frozen with indecision about how to prepare your gardens for winter. Perhaps you are wondering how to protect favorite sages (Salvia spp.) that you know won't survive local winter temperatures and freeze-thaw cycles. Although we can't offer you foolproof solutions, we will provide ideas in this new Quick Digs series on winter mulching and overwintering Salvias both outside and indoors.



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Quick Digs: Overwintering Salvias in Containers Outdoors

Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Synopsis:

In chilly climates, such as USDA Cold Hardiness Zones with winter temperatures lower than those of Zone 8, it is difficult for potted plants to survive outdoors when the mercury dips. Soil in containers freezes harder and thaws more rapidly than the ground. So plants in containers are subjected to bigger changes in conditions on a winter patio or entryway. This is the third article in our current Quick Digs series on preparation for winter in the Salvia garden. This article discusses bottom-line rules for improving chances of survival when overwintering sages in containers and suggests a variety of ideas for overwintering outdoors.



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Sage Words About Wildlife: Threats to Monarch Butterfly Migration

Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Synopsis:

Worries about declining numbers of the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) emerged several times this past year in newspapers and on wildlife websites. Yet this isn't a new problem. Due to research by organizations such as Monarch Watch as well as tracking efforts by the Mexican government, we now know about the dramatic ups and downs the species has experienced in the past 20 years. We have a clearer picture of how Monarch migration is endangered. You can aid the miracle of migration by Monarchs and other butterflies by planting butterfly gardens containing both nectar and host plants. At Flowers by the Sea, we grow a wide range of butterfly favorites.



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Quick Digs: Treating Salvias as Bedding Plants

Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2013
Synopsis:

As autumn days become shorter, so does time for protecting all your tender perennial sages (Salvia spp.) that nature designed for warmer winter conditions. This is the fifth and final article in our current Quick Digs series on preparation for winter in the Salvia garden. This post acknowledges that it isn't always possible or even preferable to overwinter tender perennial sages. Sometimes it is better to replant favorites as annuals in spring.



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Ask Mr. Sage: How to Identify Fertilizer Burn

Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Synopsis:

Ask Mr. Sage is our blog's new question-and-answer feature, based on calls and emails received at Flowers by the Sea. This question concerns dark spotting on foliage that may be caused by fertilizer burn.



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Quick Digs: Putting Salvias to Bed with Winter Mulch

Posted: Monday, October 14, 2013
Synopsis:

During spring, a heavy coat of fall leaves or wood mulch isn't a good idea for sages (Salvia spp.), because it can cause fungal problems that attack crown and roots. But in winter, organic mulches are ideal for blanketing the foliage and root area of sages. Mulch is particularly useful in protecting protect plant roots against injury from freeze-and-thaw cycles, especially for new fall plantings.This is the second article in our current Quick Digs series on preparation for winter in the Salvia garden.



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Fall Planting: Commemorating the HMS Salvia

Posted: Sunday, October 6, 2013
Synopsis:

Not long ago, we stumbled on an article about a Second World War, British naval warship named the HMS Salvia. The name made strange sense to us due to the toughness of the genus. Many Salvias survive, and even thrive, in heat, cold, drought and other difficult conditions. This article ponders how the ship got its name. It is also a commemorative of sorts to those who lose their lives serving their countries.



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Sage Words About Wildlife: Climate Change Alters Hummingbird Migration

Posted: Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Synopsis:

Nature doesn't come to a sudden, overall halt, when the timing of its ecosystems slip, including ones involving hummingbirds. Instead, change occurs gradually. Plants and the animals that pollinate them have coevolved to meet each other's needs. An example is the long beaks of hummingbirds and deep, tubular flowers. Both sides of this survival equation suffer when the phenology -- or timing -- of hummingbird and plant connections is thrown off. Recent scientific studies explore these shifts and climate change. You can help by planting hummingbird habitat in your home garden. We detail ten nectar-rich Salvias and companion plants that are hummingbird favorites.



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Book Review: A Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Mexico's Copper Canyon Region

Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Synopsis:

Copper Canyon is one of four labyrinthine gorges in Northwest Mexico's state of Chihuahua. The canyon lands are home to the indigenous Tarahumara Indians, who are famous for their reclusive culture, herbal knowledge and habit of easily running ultra marathon distances. The gorges are also home to a fabulous array of wildflowers, including Salvias, that amateur botanist Linda J. Ford documents in " "font-style: italic;">A Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Mexico's Copper Canyon Region."



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Fall Planting: 8 Best-of-Class Sages that Are Easy to Grow

Posted: Monday, September 23, 2013
Synopsis:

"Best of Class" is the title that Flowers by the Sea bestows on plants we honor for being winners in many ways. They are lovely, abundant bloomers and reliable repeat performers that are useful in many landscapes, including low-water gardens designed to have a cottage, woodland or desert look. In the case of the sages (Salvia spp.) described here, all are easy to grow because they thrive with little fuss. Many are heat tolerant and drought resistant.



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Book Review: The New Sunset Western Garden Book

Posted: Friday, September 20, 2013
Synopsis:

On a day when it's too cold or hot to be outside, a gardening guide, such as The New Sunset Western Garden Book, is a useful and entertaining companion. At 768 pages long, it isn't lightweight reading. Be prepared to prop the book up on pillows in your lap as you page through it while kicking back on the couch.



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Fall Planting: Tips for Salvia Success

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Synopsis:

For people and for plants, cool fall weather is comfortable for working in the garden. As gardeners dig, amend soil, weed and water, newly planted perennials focus their efforts on growing strong root systems before the chill of winter. Most perennial sages (Salvia spp.) thrive if planted in fall. As temperatures decline, the soil remains warm. These conditions cause plants to decrease their growth above ground and focus on root expansion. Here are some tips about why and how you can succeed in the Salvia garden by planting during autumn.



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Quick Digs: Zone 7 to 9 Salvia Groundcovers Discourage Weeds

Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Synopsis:

This is the fifth article in our Quick Digs series on Salvia groundcovers for minimizing weeds in the garden. Here are four choices for Zones 7 to 9, including one that spreads up to 8 feet.



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Salvia Small Talk: Bug Song in the Bushes

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Synopsis: Katydids love Salvias. Here are some photos from the University of California at Davis as well as a recording of katydids from a West Virginia naturalist.

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Unpacking and Hardening Off Mail-Order Plants

Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Synopsis:

Flowers by the Sea offers videos about plant cultivation in its Northern California demonstration gardens. In this video, first-time FBTS customers see how the company ships live potted plants so they arrive moist and healthy. Longtime horticulturist and FBTS co-owner Kermit Carter demonstrates how to remove the paper-wrapped plants from their box when they arrive a few days after shipping. He suggests checking them against the packing list and examining the plants for damage, which should be as minimal as the yellowing of a few leaves. This yellowing is due to the brief onset of dormancy while the plants are boxed. Unpacking is followed by a few days of hardening off in partial shade before planting. Carter explains that although most FBTS Salvias benefit from gentle misting after unpacking, the ones with blue tags are exceptionally drought-resistant and need to be allowed to go almost dry before watering. This video is part of the FBTS Everything Salvias Blog series Views from the Garden.



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Ask Mr. Sage: How to Combat Whiteflies Safely

Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Synopsis: Ask Mr. Sage is our blog's new question-and-answer feature, based on calls and emails received at Flowers by the Sea. This question concerns how to safely rid Salvias of Whiteflies and their eggs.

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How to prune Salvia elegans 'Tangerine'

Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2013
Synopsis:

Pruning makes some people nervous. Am I doing too much or too little? Will I kill the plant? Is this the right time? Salvia specialist and longtime horticulturist Kermit Carter, co-owner of Flowers by the Sea Farm and Online Mail-Order Nursery, describes the pruning of Tangerine Scented Sage and answers all these questions. This video is part of the FBTS Everything Salvias Blog series Views from the Garden.



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