(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 fruity smelling, evergreen foliage and jewel-like flowers and bracts.
Salvia spathacea is easy to grow, drought tolerant, heat resistant and adaptable to a broad range of light conditions from full sun to full shade. It blooms reliably from late winter into spring, sometimes stretching into summer and blooming again in fall.
Our strain is a rich rose red and doesn't go dormant in summer. It comes from the northern end of a native range stretching from the Santa Cruz Mountains in California's Central Coast south to Orange County. The flowers of all varieties of this species grow in large clusters on tall spikes that rise up from sticky, basal foliage.
Hummingbird Sage develops into a mound that spreads gently with underground runners. It's hardy to USDA Zones 8 to 11 and, in favorable conditions, can spread 4 feet. However, average growth is 24 inches tall and wide.
We sell out in a heartbeat when we offer these sages in bloom at our local Markets.
(Little Hummingbird Sage or Pitcher Sage) At one-fourth to one-half the size of our other Hummingbird Sages, this is the smallest variety of Salvia spathacea that we grow.
(Apricot Hummingbird Sage or Cerro Alto Pitcher Sage) Large clusters of warm, apricot-colored blossoms top the tall, thick flower spikes of this sage. It is named after a peak in the mountains behind the crashing waters of Big Sur on California's Central Coast.
(Giant Hummingbird Sage or Pitcher Sage) Powerline Pink is the largest variety of Salvia spathacea that we grow. Its large, dark pink flowers are surrounded by bracts so furry that they look silvery.
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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: 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: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Planting a hummingbird garden filled with nectar-rich, long-blooming Salvias aids preservation of hummingbird species that migrate each year throughout North America. It also gives you a front-row seat to a fascinating aerobatics show. Backyard islands of colorful sages are like gas stations for hummingbirds' long-distance journeys. Salvias can keep your garden whirring with the helicopter-like flight of hummingbirds from spring through autumn and -- in warm climates -- into winter.
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Posted: Monday, April 10, 2017
Flowers by the Sea Online Nursery specializes in Salvias and often receives questions about how to prune them. Although getting good at pruning takes practice, Salvias rebound quickly if you make mistakes. A key to successful pruning is understanding the varying needs of four main categories of sages. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the FBTS Everything Salvias Blog.
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Posted: Thursday, September 8, 2016
Synopsis: Drought resistant California native sages thrive when planted in fall. It's easier for roots to become established when soil is warm, air temperatures are cooler and precipitation is increasing. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the Everything Salvias Blog and is based on calls and emails from customers.
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Posted: Sunday, March 18, 2018
Colorful plantings make entryways attractive. Even better are pretty plantings that are fragrant and provide a sensory lift before you journey indoors. Scent wakes up memories and makes us see in a different way. Here are eight sensible suggestions for adding lovely scents to your landscape.
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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: Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Not everyone who lives in a dry climate wants a cactus garden. And not all cottage gardens are filled with pansies and peonies. Flowers by the Sea highlights ten tough perennial Salvias in pastels for low-water cottage gardens. The palette of drought-resistant choices includes sages with blue, lavender, peach, pink and yellow flowers for a soothing touch in your landscape.
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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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Here are some guidelines for success with this plant in your garden.
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This plant needs or tolerates more than six hours of intense sunlight daily. Many Salvias only thrive in wide-open locations where they receive long hours of full sun. However, full-sun species sometimes tolerate a bit of partial shade. Or a Salvia that loves partial shade may be amenable to spending part of its time in full sun.
In general, this sun/shade adaptability shows up in Salvias that do best in cooler climates when grown in full sun and thrive in hot climates when partial shade is available. So full-sun Salvias sometimes are also categorized as partial-shade plants and vice versa.
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