Salvia Small Talk: A Sage-Seed Cafeteria for Birds
Deadheading spent 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 Blazing Red Sages for Sun and Partial Shade flower spikes go to seed, especially at the end of the plant's flowering season. The seeds -- also called nutlets -- that result will attract a variety of winged visitors.
California's East Bay Regional Park District notes that seed from the following sages attracts wren-tits, bushtits and sparrows:
- Black Sage (Salvia mellifera);
- Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii);
- Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla); and
- White Sage (Salvia apiana).
The Orange County Chapter of the National Audubon Society adds Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) seed to the list that birds favor. According to the U.S. Forest Service, Black Sage seed is a staple food for quail.
In her book, Garden Secrets for Attracting Birds, Rachel Lanicci says that Salvia azurea -- commonly known as Azure, Blue or Prairie Sage -- is popular with seedeaters. Goldfinches are fond of many kinds of Salvia seed, according to a number of organizations including the Theodore Payne Foundation.
A bit of benign neglect in the flower garden can transform a yard into a food pantry for birds and a place to enjoy birdsong. For more information about Salvias that provide a feast and habitat for small wildlife, please call or write us at Flowers by the Sea.