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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.

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Here are all of our articles:
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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Salvia Small Talk: Infusing Your Car with Sage

Posted: Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Synopsis:

Make your own deodorizer for your car with a tea infuser and herbs, such as salvia.



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Quick Digs: Zone 5-9 Groundcover Gardens for Damp Conditions

Posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Synopsis:

Quick Digs is a serial containing short posts focused on a central issue about Salvia gardening. The topic for the first series is Salvia groundcovers for weed control, and this is the third article.

If you are a Salvia lover facing the difficult scenario of cold winters and damp soil, the sages listed here are right for winter conditions from USDA Zone 5 to 9. All are water-loving, shade-tolerant species and have handsome foliage that adds to landscaping even when the plants aren't blooming. By massing these plants, you gain coverage more rapidly and increase weed deterrence.



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Quick Digs: Zone 5 - 9 Weedbuster Gardens for Average Moisture

Posted: Monday, July 29, 2013
Synopsis:

Quick Digs is a serial containing short posts focused on a central issue of Salvia gardening. The topic for the first series is Salvia groundcovers for weed control, and this is the second article. Baby, it can be cold outside in Zone 5 during the winter! But the roots of all of the tough Salvias listed here survive sustained frost and snow, then rise up again in spring. To minimize weed growth, the best defense is the good offense of dominating a flowerbed with sages, especially mat-forming groundcovers. 



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Quick Digs: Salvia Groundcovers Suppress Weeds

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013
Synopsis:

Quick Digs is a serial containing short posts focused on a central issue about Salvia gardening. The topic for the first series is Salvia groundcovers for weed control, and this is the first article.

Great groundcovers help conserve soil moisture and leave little room for weeds to grow. This is true of many colorful, fragrant Salvias that spread freely, including Meadow Sages. However, it may be that the essential oils creating the pleasant aromas of many Salvias are also helpful in suppressing weeds. Many researchers refer to this apparent trait as the “Salvia phenomenon.”



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Salvia Small Talk: Growing a Native Sage Garden

Posted: Sunday, July 14, 2013
Synopsis:

Most native plant gardens encompass species native to the region or state in which a gardener lives. However, some native gardens -- such as the New England Wild Flower Society's famous Garden in the Woods -- are based on a broad variety of plants native across America.



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Creating a Butterfly Garden with Delectable Salvias and Milkweeds

Posted: Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Synopsis:

Creating a butterfly garden is like creating a teen-friendly home. You need to offer tasty snacks, healthy beverages, and comfortable accommodations that aren't too tidy. Like the teens that fill your basement and backyard, butterflies will keep coming back if you give them what they need. The variety of plants in your yard is the main reason why butterflies do or don’t visit. Salvias are among the popular plants for adult butterflies that love nectar.

 



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Salvia Small Talk: What Is an Inch of Water?

Posted: Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Synopsis:

Instuctions for waterwise gardening often suggest deep watering once a week and applying no more than 1 inch of water, including rainfall. For Salvia, this amounts to what we would call regular or average watering for in-ground plants. But what constitutes an inch of water?



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Salvia Small Talk: How to Determine Soil Moisture Level

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Synopsis:

Basic tools for estimating soil moisture include your hands and simple tools, such as a trowel, screwdriver and long metal rod, according to Colorado State University. The first method, which uses the metal tools, might be called the 'poke technique.' The second is the 'feel method.'



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