This is our best Hummingbird Sage for groundcover use. Originally collected in Los Angeles County's Topanga Canyon, it grows well in locations with partial to full shade. The flower spikes are tall with thick, jewel-colored clusters of blossoms. The foliage is sticky and delightfully fragrant.
Characterized by mounding growth that spreads gently by underground runners, a single plant of Topanga Hummingbird Sage can grow up to 12 feet across. Similar to other varieties of the species, it is heat tolerant and drought resistant. Add up all Topanga's qualities and you have an excellent plant for weed control in dry shade.
This shade-loving variety works well in woodland, native plant and dry gardens. Heat tolerant and drought resistant, it is also invaluable for attracting and feeding hummingbirds. During bloom time, which is winter to spring, Topanga and all our Salvia spathacea sell out in a heartbeat.
(Hummingbird Sage or Pitcher Sage) No sage we grow is more attractive to hummingbirds than this one. Spectacular in all ways, it is one of our favorite Salvias with its fragrant, evergreen foliage and jewel-like flowers and bracts.
(Arizona Blue Sage) We are so impressed with this top-performing, drought-resistant ground cover that we have rated it best of class. Arizona Blue Sage is adaptable to a variety of shady conditions and blossoms so abundantly that it seems to have as many rich blue flowers as it has leaves. It is native to dry, shaded areas in mountain canyons in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
(Snowflake Sage) Wiry, trailing stems of small white leaves make this plant look like fresh snowfall. Numerous, small, sky blue flowers with prominent bee lines further add to the cooling look. This dry-garden plant is native to the mountains of the Chihuahuan desert of North Central Mexico.
(Turkish Mountain Sage) Part of the Salvia canescens group of Mediterranean sages, this dwarf species features lavender parrot-type flowers with whitish lower lips (or should we say beaks!).
(Sinaloan Blue Sage) It's difficult to say which trait is more attractive about this sage -- the airy spikes of deep, true blue flowers or the fascinating spear-shaped foliage that varies from deep green to purple, forming a tidy mat.
(Sacred White Sage) Bees, hummingbirds and spiritual blessings are all connected to Salvia apiana, an elegant shrubby sage that is an important herb to indigenous Californians. It deserves a place in salvia gardens that can meet its demands. Stiff and almost fleshy, its leaves are tight rosettes of brilliant, silvery green that is almost white.
(Compact Sacred White Sage) Bees, hummingbirds and spiritual blessings are all connected to Salvia apiana, an elegant shrubby sage that is an important herb to indigenous Californians. It deserves a place in sage gardens that can meet its demands. This compact variety is smaller than the common species, and somewhat more cold tolerant.
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Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2012
While it's true that not all Salvias smell, well, pleasant, many varieties are grown specifically for the pungent or even sweet aromas that they release into the air. These ten Salvias are our top picks for the best-smelling varieties in the garden.
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Posted: Friday, February 7, 2020
White Sage (Salvia apiana) is a sacred plant for Native Americans, especially tribes in its Southern California native lands. It's a challenging plant to grow. Flowers by the Sea Farm and Nursery talks about the history and religious use of Salvia apiana as well as providing a guide to growing it.
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Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020
Regional differences in seasonal temperature and humidity affect the choice of Salvias to plant in hummingbird gardens. The varying seasons in which particular sages bloom and the part of the world where they originated also determine whether they attract hummingbirds. Flowers by the Sea offers suggestions based on regions and seasons.
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Posted: Monday, March 4, 2019
Among the hummers' favorites: Salvia spathacea, commonly known as Hummingbird Sage. As it name suggests, this California native produces the hummingbirds' flower of choice, blooming from late winter through summer -- and sometimes again in Fall -- with rose-pink to magenta blossoms. Available in six varieties, this robust perennial not only attracts hummers with its abundant nectar, it's easy to grow and enhances any landscape with its aromatic blooms and fragrant evergreen foliage.
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Posted: Friday, February 19, 2016
Wildscaping a butterfly-friendly garden in Southern California is an act of kindness, especially toward imperiled species. Gardeners from Santa Barbara southward may want to group coastal sage and chaparral plants in their butterfly gardens, because those are among favorite sources of nectar for adult butterflies and host plants for caterpillars. Sages are popular nectar choices. Plants, such as Milkweeds and Impatiens, that work well both as nectar providers and caterpillar hosts are important additions.
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Posted: Sunday, May 10, 2020
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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Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Native plants, including California's many indigenous sages, are like the boys or girls next door who were overlooked until outsiders discovered their good looks and other fine attributes. For the longest time, native species didn’t get respect in home gardening – a sizeable oversight considering that California alone has more than 5,500 native plants. Natives are roughly defined as species that were growing in America before European colonization. Flowers by the Sea cultivates hardy, drought-resistant California Salvias that are native to a broad swath of the West Coast ranging from Northern Baja to Southern Oregon. The California natives detailed here are all drought resistant and many tolerate heat. They are well suited to waterwise, xeriscapic landscapes, including dry gardens in which plants must survive despite almost no supplemental watering.
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Learn more about how we analyze plant colors
We based our analysis of this plant’s floral and foliar color on the internationally standardized color system published by the U.K.’s Royal Horticultural Society. Called the RHS Large Colour Charts, this publication is a boxed set of color swatches arranged in fans and containing all the colors that RHS has identified in horticulture. RHS gives each color a common name and code number.
Each swatch has a small hole punched into it. We place the swatch over a flower petal and compare the blossom’s color to that of the card. When using RHS colors to compare plants that you want to combine in a flowerbed, in bouquets or in some other manner, RHS says to view them indoors in north light. If you are matching our digital swatches to flowers already in your garden, pluck two or three fully open blossoms of each plant that requires analysis.
You may find that the plant you receive from FBTS varies somewhat in color from what appears in our color analysis or our photograph due to a number of factors, including:
- Variations in photographic colors based on lighting level at different times of day
- Differences in the resolution of digital screens
- Seasonal changes in plant color due to changes in temperature and plant cycle and
- pH or soil chemistry that varies from one locale to another and causes color shifts.
Finally, RHS notes that you shouldn’t attempt color matching when your eyes are fatigued.
Here are some guidelines for success with this plant in your garden.
Click on an individual icon for more detailed information.
This plant can handle extreme heat.
Full-sun Salvias that don’t like any shade are among the most heat tolerant. Heat-loving Salvias also are often drought tolerant. Moisture-conserving features, such as fuzzy leaves, help them stay perky at high temperatures.
Heat-tolerant Salvias are fine choices for western and southern exposures.
This plant thrives when planted where it will receive morning sun followed by afternoon shade, such as on the eastern side of a house. Make sure it isn’t exposed to midday and afternoon sun, which can damage tender leaves during the summer when sunlight is more intense due to being more direct.
Although midday is when sunlight is most direct, it takes time for the atmosphere to heat up and for heat to peak at sometime in the afternoon. Salvias that prefer cooler temperatures are protected by afternoon shade during the hottest time of year.
This plant grows well in partial shade, such as the kind on the edge of woodlands or under deciduous trees with breaks in the foliage through which dappled sunlight penetrates. Many Salvias thrive in partial shade, including ones that spend part of their day in full sunlight. Some species need partial shade to overcome severe heat and dry soil.
This plant grows well in an outdoor container, such as on a patio.
Some containerized Salvias leaf out and flower year after year following a period of dormancy. Annuals in containers may die back and appear to grow again when they reseed.
During extreme heat, check the soil in container plantings once or twice daily to be sure it doesn't completely dry out. Feel its surface for coolness, then gently poke a finger into the soil to check for dryness.
When growing a fragrance garden, this is a good selection.
Most Salvias have pleasant scents, but some are intoxicatingly fragrant. Some are short enough for border plantings that release a heady perfume as you brush against them when strolling along a path. Other taller types make good landscape highlights, particularly by doors where their scent can be enjoyed on entry and exit.
Plant hardiness Zones defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture tell you the minimum temperatures a plant can withstand in your garden. The USDA divides the nation into winter climate areas from coldest (Zone 1) to warmest (Zone 11).
However, it is sometimes possible to grow a Zone 6 Salvia as a perennial in Zone 5 if you provide preferential care, such as winter mulching and a location sheltered from harsh winds. In contrast, a Zone 9 Salvia may act like a perennial in Zone 10 if given a bit of shade or extra water.
To create a harmonious landscape plan, it is important to consider the heights of individual plants.
Height also affects function. Short Salvias often make excellent ground covers that conserve soil moisture and discourage weeds while also brightening your yard. Medium-height Salvias, such as ones 36 inches tall, often are ideal border plants. A tall Salvia planted singly can highlight a landscape; multiple plantings can form an attractive screen.
By considering the width of a plant, you can determine how many to place in a row or what other plants to grow with it.
For example, a narrow, moderate-height Salvia may look good interplanted with bushier species, kind of like Mutt and Jeff.
In contrast, wide-spreading Salvias are economical for hiding lengths of wall and fence or for creating hedge-like divisions in a yard.
Plant this herbaceous species in the USDA Zones where it grows as a perennial, returning year after year.
After dying back to the ground at frost, herbaceous perennials emerge in the Spring with soft, new growth. A Salvia that is perennial in one region, may be an annual in another depending on local conditions, such as winter temperatures.
If you live in USDA Zone 5, for example, Salvias in our catalog cited as growing well in Zone 5 or lower will be perennial. Those cited as doing well in Zones 6 or higher may do well in Zone 5, but generally will act like annuals coming back from seed instead of the parent plant’s roots.
This plant needs regular watering based on what is appropriate to your local conditions.
In some extremely hot, arid climates, this may mean daily watering in Summer. Although many drought-resistant Salvias survive on little to no watering due to local rainfall and deep roots meeting their moisture needs, others need regular doses. The size and frequency of the dose depends on your climate.
In the right locale, this plant survives and thrives despite minimal summer water.
Drought resistance is an important characteristic of xeriscapic – dry landscape – plants, a category that includes a multitude of Salvias. Many low-water Salvias are native to parts of the world with little rainfall all year or regions where summers are dry and winters are wet.
Nevertheless, there are also drought-resistant Salvias for places such as Florida where winters are dry and summers are wet.
This plant reaches peak bloom during Spring or flowers for much of the season.
However, it may begin flowering sooner. Some Spring-blooming Salvias begin flowering in Winter; others start in Spring, keep producing color through summer and may continue on into autumn and first frost. Still others flower only in Spring.
There is a great deal of overlap in blooming seasons for Salvias.
This plant flowers throughout Winter.
Many winter-blooming Salvias begin flowering in late Fall and continue on into Spring; there is a lot of overlap in blooming seasons for Salvias. Winter bloomers include evergreen as well as deciduous perennial Salvias.
Depending on type, they grow well in USDA Zones ranging from 8 to 11 with some tolerating the chill of Zone 7.
Unless local forage is in short supply, most deer likely will avoid this plant.
It appears that deer dislike Salvias, in general, due to their volatile oils that make the plants so fragrant and savory in cooking. However, the only completely deer-proof plants are the ones grown beyond reach.
Based on our experience and reports from customers, hummingbirds (Trochilidae spp.) love this plant.
Hummingbirds exist only in the Americas where their 300-plus species are particularly fond of the nectar in brightly colored Salvias from the Western Hemisphere. However, if favorites aren’t available, they dine on the nectar of most Salvias.
Hummingbirds repay thoughtful plantings by helping to pollinate your garden