Hybridization often occurs naturally between different Salvia species, especially when they are closely related and share similar needs for sun, soil, and water. Interspecific hybridization is the term used when different species cross. For instance, White Sage (Salvia apiana) is well known for crossing in the wild of California’s chaparral lands with Cleveland Sage (S. clevelandii) and Black Sage (S. mellifera). Well-known examples of these drought-resistant crosses include S. x clevelandii ‘Vicki Romo’ and S. x ‘Starlight’ (a cross with Black Sage). When used in the manner exemplified by these botanical names, the letter “x” indicates an interspecific cross.
Plant breeding programs also produce interspecific hybrids. Whenever you see the “x” plus “Elk” in one of our plant names, you know that we developed the plant at Flowers by the Sea. Sometimes we get lucky and discover a natural hybrid in our greenhouses or test fields. More often, the “Elk” tag indicates a plant we produced through endless hours and many seasons of experimentation. Some Salvias, such as the Southwestern species Autumn Sage (S. greggii) and Mountain Sage (S. microphylla) are so closely related that they cross frequently. The botanical name for their main type of interspecific cross is S. x jamensis (Jame Sage). We grow so many Jame Sages, including our Elk Rainbow Series, that they form a subcategory of their own in the Special Salvia Groups category of our catalog.
It’s common for interspecific hybrids to be infertile plants that require propagation by cuttings taken from parent plants. Also, not all crosses are equally strong or attractive. At FBTS we only offer you ones we consider to be beautiful, unique, and vigorous.
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(Variegated Anise-Scented Sage) Rumpled and lance-shaped, the spectacular leaves of this sage are yellowish-lime with splotches of emerald. Rub them and you smell anise, a licorice-like scent. The bountiful, cobalt blue flowers cover the plant from summer into fall.
(Hybrid Bolivian Sage) This hybrid between Salvia orbignaei and Salvia haenkei occurs in the low-to-mid elevations of the Bolivian Andes. Recreated in the greenhouse from superior patents, this is a select variety with stunning beauty.