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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:
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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Composing a Symphony of Pastel Salvias Including Elk Rainbow Sages

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Synopsis:

If you want to orchestrate a peaceful symphony in a flowerbed, planting a profusion of pastels is one way to do it. Pastels are lighter hues of bright primary and secondary colors. Although gardeners often visualize bright colors when thinking of Salvias, there are a number of pastels in the genus such as among the Jame Sage Hybrids (Salvia x jamensis spp.), including many in the new Flowers by the Sea Elk Rainbow Series.



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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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Buying Salvias Online from FBTS: How to Order & What to Expect - Updated

Posted: Sunday, September 1, 2013
Synopsis: When you purchase plants online, it's understandable to feel a bit nervous. After all, a tender green life is being sent to you in a box. Will it survive the journey in healthy condition? Also, how secure will your credit card information and other data be? Furthermore, how do you sort through all those plants in the online catalog? Flowers by the Sea provides answers.

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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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Salvia Small Talk: Deep Watering vs. Sprinkling

Posted: Sunday, June 23, 2013
Synopsis:

Sprinkling is the fine, misguided art of giving your landscape a quick spray of water that moistens foliage as well as soil. This can cause foliar diseases, such as mildew, while also depriving roots of sufficient water. What a perennial needs is a long gulp applied to the ground and at the edge of its canopy or drip line



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Blazing Red Sages for Sun and Partial Shade

Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2013
Synopsis:

Warm colors tend to take center stage in a landscape as well as brightening the shade. Yet warm colors generally aren't associated with shady sage (Salvia) gardens, because there are far more shade-tolerant sages in the blue to purple range. So we decided to poke around our catalog and pull together some hot choices that thrive in partial shade.
To make landscaping even easier, you may want to limit your choice of plants to one color. Massing is dramatic.



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Salvia Small Talk: A Sage-Seed Cafeteria for Birds

Posted: Monday, June 10, 2013
Synopsis:

"font-style: italic;"> Deadheading spent "font-style: italic;">Salvia flowers helps to prolong bloom time. However, if you enjoy the company of songbirds and game birds in your garden, let some of the flower spikes go to seed, especially at the end of the plants flowering season.



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Pantone Pageant Cheerful Lemon Zest and Nectarine Designer Salvias

Posted: Friday, June 7, 2013
Synopsis:

Let there be light; let there be brightness. Yellows and oranges are cheerful colors to combine in a grouping of perennials. Pantone's spring 2013 designer colors -- golden yellow Lemon Zest 13-0756 and its hot orange Nectarine 16-1360 -- are fun colors to match to sages (Salvia spp.) that can turn up the light in a garden whether sunny or shady. Two groupings for sunny or shady gardens are offered



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Book Review: Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens

Posted: Thursday, June 6, 2013
Synopsis:

"font-style: italic;"> Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden are garden designers and writers who split their time between Texas and Colorado, but their suggestions for low water, xeriscapic landscaping can benefit gardeners far from the American West, Southwest and Deep South. The authors agree with their Dutch contemporary, Piet Oudolf, that a naturalistic landscape design based on local climate -- including water limitations -- is the most sustainable choice.



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Salvia Small Talk: Why Birds Love Red Flowers

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Synopsis:

Color, shape and smell are characteristics that affect whether a bird or insect will dive into a flower in search of food. Whereas bees seem not to notice red at all, it is the go-to color that most birds look for at mealtime.



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Pantone Pageant: 15 Designer African Violet Salvias and Companions

Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2013
Synopsis:

Purples are cool yet quietly passionate. This includes African Violet 16-3520, a spring 2013 designer color created by the Pantone Corporation. Shades in the blue and purple color range are tranquil and soothing yet commanding, because they calm the garden. If you have a garden bed that is in your face with bright reds, oranges and yellows, one way to cool it down is to add Salvias and companion plants from the blue to purple palatte. Here are 15 choices from our catalog that fashionably match Pantone's African Violet.



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New at FBTS: Vermilion Bluffs ® Mexican Sage

Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2013
Synopsis:

A 'mass of scarlet awesomeness' is one way that Denver Botanic Gardens Senior Curator Panayoti Kelaidis describes Vermilion Bluffs® Mexican Sage (Salvia darcyi 'Pscarl') at his Prairie Break website. Unlike so many Southwestern sages, Vermilion Bluffs is surprisingly cold hardy as well as being drought tolerant. Its common name is taken from the spectacular red bluffs of the Vermillion Basin Wilderness in Northwestern Colorado, an area redolent with the scent of sage on hot days. But the plant is native to the Nuevo Leon area of Mexico's eastern Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. The story of how its parent plant arrived at Denver Botanic Gardens (DBG) and, eventually, at Flowers by the Sea is one of diaspora.



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