Xeriscaping is the art of landscaping with plants that are well adapted to dry growing conditions. Global warming and drought are increasingly affecting home and public landscapes throughout the nation. Consequently, many gardeners are focusing on plants that are attractive yet survive or even thrive when water is limited. The Salvia (true sage) genus is huge and includes many choices for waterwise gardening. Our Xeric Choices articles include historical perspectives on this late 20th century gardening technique as well as suggestions for drought-tolerant Salvias and companions. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to share your experiences with xeriscape.
Dry gardens are flowerbeds or entire landscapes based on ornamental perennials that require little to no watering once well rooted. Many Salvias are excellent, drought-resistant choices for these gardens. Flowers by the Sea Farm and Online Nursery talks about dry garden myths as well as low-water plants.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Native plants are the best ones for local conditions. But sometimes boundaries designating what is native may be artificial. Here are five outstanding Xeric Salvias for Southern California, including one, not far over the Baja border, that offers intense drought resistance and violet-blue flowers.
To create a successful xeriscape garden, planning and design are essential. Planning helps you make better choices, which saves time, money and effort as well as water. A little bit of wisdom from ancient Native American practices doesn’t hurt either. While soil improvement is always helpful, it should be moderate for xeric Salvias, such as Autumn Sage and Mealy Cup Sage. Finally, pruning and thinning, strategic groupings of plants for frugal watering and mulching for protection against severe heat or winter chill all were key to ancient Southwestern agriculture as well as modern xeriscaping.
How Xeriscape Won the West: Feast or famine: thatâ€™s the water situation out West. Unexpected torrential rains, flash floods and long periods of drought are acts of God that people can partially control through water diversion and storage as well as strategic conservation. Low-water landscaping -- coined as "xeriscape" by a Denver environmental planner -- has become popular in the West in the last 30 years.
Lush but not lushes - that's one way you might sum up the majority of Salvias. Despite their long bloom times and bushy foliage, Salvias don't generally belly up to the water hose. Overall, they are perfect for xeriscape gardening -- the art of creating great beauty in the garden while conserving water.