Suggestions for Low Growing types Needed

Suzi AKA DesertDanceMarch 2, 2014

We moved into our property last June. It was first a foreclosure, then a short sale, and had been neglected for years!

1.5 acres of pure overgrown mess. You probably have seen homes on the sides of hills dotted with boulders and native growth. That's what we have.

So something we thought was a weed had gorgeous 3' spikes of purple flowers all summer long. Today, I realized it's Salvia AKA Sage!

After reading about sage, I realize it can be divided, and we have many places here to put chunks of this drought tolerant beauty!

We have a garden space on top of a huge boulder. There are areas that have plants, and there is a nice little concrete patio with steps up to it. We put two fig trees up there, and they will create some shade. But the whole space slopes down and can be seen from the street. It gets full sun all day, and we can sprinkle it if necessary. It currently gets no water. Weeds have no problem, but granite is decomposing and it would be nice to have something to hold it up!

I'd like to mix salvia's there, but not the massive large ones on the frontage. Any suggestions for red, white, pink, purple, 1' - 2' types?

Thank You!

Suzi

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Suzi AKA DesertDance

I forgot to check that box stating I want post replies emailed, so now I have to post another stupid post just so I can check that box!!

Maybe this photo will help you see what I've got. We trimmed it all down, and now it's starting to grow. The leaves are gray, long, and fuzzy. It's on a slope and seems to be coming up in the gazanias too!, or they are invading it. They are short. At it's height, it's 3'-4' tall.

A rainy day photo:

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 2:45PM
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Tessiess, SoCal Inland, 9b, 1272' elev

Suzi, you might want to visit the website of Las Pilitas (posted below). IMHO it is one of the most educational sites available for California native plants. They have a neat section on salvias. You can browse and see what you like as well as where and in what conditions it grows best.

Melissa

Here is a link that might be useful: California salvias

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 4:37PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Wow! Thank you Melissa! I will bookmark that site! Do you have any idea what variety I have? Just curious. I know beyond a doubt it is sage!
Suz

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 4:45PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

A side note. I am not about providing a place for hummingbirds! They scare me! Like the Carpenter Bees, they buzz and dive and they attack!

Not a hummingbird fan, Or a Carpenter Bee fan! They live in the same world, but I hope it's not mine!

Suzi

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 5:02PM
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Tessiess, SoCal Inland, 9b, 1272' elev

I don't know Suzi, but if you don't like hummingbirds, salvia might not be the best choice. Hummingbirds ADORE salvia. I have lots of them in my garden, although they don't dive bomb me. My collection of plants attracts many bees and butterflies too.

As to the type of salvia you have, I don't know, I'm still a relative beginner where salvias are involved. There are some real experts who post on this forum, and they would be better ones to ask.

Melissa

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 8:33PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Melissa, we have rattlesnakes too! I just wish to know which Salvia won't grow to 4' tall. Which one would stay under 2'?
True, not a fan of hummingbirds, and you will never find me putting a feeder out!

Another topic, but I just wish to know which varieties grow low.

Suzi

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 8:39PM
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CA Kate

The Salvia appears to be one of the several varieties of S. leucantha. Leucantha also has long purple spikes in summer.

You might consider S. apiana. It is low, spreading and drought tolerant.

If you are interested in Salvias you might want to get "A Book of Salvias" by Betsy Clebsch. Her books are quite thorough and accurate.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 12:11PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Thank you westelle! Ours does have beautiful long purple spikes!

I'll look into the S. apiana. We plan to go to that California Native Sage Festival, and maybe I can buy that there.

I have some culinary sage growing in a pot along with rosemary and thyme. It hasn't bloomed yet. I'm wondering how big it gets.

Suzi

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 12:25PM
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Tessiess, SoCal Inland, 9b, 1272' elev

Westelle, thanks for posting about the salvia book. It sounds like something I should get.

Suzi, try visiting the Flowers by the Sea website. See the link below. Then scroll down on the left side until you see the choices for "Mature height". They have them grouped by 1 foot or less (57), 1 to 2 feet (112), 2 feet (2), 2 to 3 feet (88), etc on up to whoppers that top out at 6 feet plus!

Melissa

Here is a link that might be useful: Salvia at Flowers by the Sea

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 2:26PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Melissa,

I loved that link! I have the Sunset Western Garden book, but it doesn't sort them by height, and that link has them all in color!

I am going to take a list of my favorites with me to that Sage event on the 22, and hopefully pick up some orange, purple, blue, white and pink. They will look so pretty among the rocks!

Suzi

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 3:05PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Salvia chionophylla is a creeper and a crawler that likes full sun and heat but it needs a bit off summer water. It lives without it but not thrives. A light watering every couple weeks will do. S. chamaedryoides is another lowish growing salvia. These are good in Central Texas. Forms of Salvia greggi are also good in heat and dryness. Californian salvias are not that good in Texas because we do not get a lot of winter wet. and some salvias are allergic to summer water that we get in a occasion downpour if it is a normal summer.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 3:17PM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

I"m not clear where you live. Does your name "desertdance" imply that you're actually in the desert? Low or High? When we lived in Temecula, the low-growing Salvia "Dara's Choice," a hybrid of S. mellifera and sonomensis, grew spectaculary well in areas of part shade and sun. You can get it at Las Pilitas, and it is also very easy to propagate. For me it was the easiest of all the native salvias that I tried. In two or three years a few plants can cover a large area. Each plant would typically span 6-8 ft, and they're only a few inches high, maybe the flower stalks would get up to 1 ft high. The flowers are like S. mellifera, but bluer. For us it was also the first of the salvias to bloom, starting in mid-January and continuing into early summer. Alas, we live in Anza now, where winter nights are much colder, and I can't grow "Dara's Choice" or S. mellifera.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 4:22PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

We live in the hills overlooking Hemet. It's a micro-climate here. The citrus groves in the valley below get freezes, and their turbines go on, but up here it's cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Strange.

We lived in the low desert for about 10 years, then moved here to be closer to the grand kids in Temecula. Wine country is slowly spreading between here and there. We have a backyard vineyard, and there is a big one at the bottom of our hill.

I'll definitely put Dara's Choice on my list!

Thank you!
Suzi

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 4:35PM
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robinmi_gw

Have a look at my site www.robinssalvias.com

several Salvias that may suit your conditions.

Robin.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 5:03PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

You have a very nice site, Robin!

Beautiful photos!

Suzi

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 6:06PM
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CA Kate

You might want to visit the Quail Botanical Gardens north of San Diego. DH and I saw a lot of mature desert-type native plants that you might use. (I think it helps to see mature plants rather than small newbees.) I think you can have a lot of fun with a variety of Salvias on your hilside. At one point I had 43 different, mature Salvias growing on our property in the hills on the east side of the Central Valley of CA and loved each and every one. Sadly, at this new, city house I only have 3 or 4. :.-(

Here is a link that might be useful: Quail Botanical Gardens

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 9:02PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

San Diego is a long trip! 2 hours! Maybe if there is champagne and a spa overnight involved!

I did order some seeds, and we shall see!

I want a mix of low growing purple, orange, white and blue.

Suzi

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 9:13PM
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CA Kate

Get Betsy's book... small but worth every penny.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 12:27AM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

Dara's Choice should do fine in Hemet. But it needs part sun/part shade. If you can keep it out of midday sun in summer (and I know Hemet gets hot!), it should be OK. I have a dark sky here in Anza (I'm into astronomy), but I miss being able to grow some of the salvias and chaparral natives. OTOH, S. pachyphylla does well here. Freezing nights and snow don't bother it.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 2:46AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

We do have areas of part sun, part shade. There are two pine groves on the property and they provide a lot of shade. I'll try to get some Dara's Choice and give it a whirl!

When we moved here, one of our neighbor's explained that we are hundreds of feet above Hemet and that you can watch the outside temperature change in your car as you go up and down the hill. Our own property has a 300' drop from top to bottom, and the same plant on top of the hill performs differently at the bottom. My Pakistan Mullberry at the top of the hill is blooming, and the ones at the bottom are not blooming yet. It will be a challenge to determine which salvia to plant where!

I found the link below to be invaluable in determining our exact zone! You just put in your zip code, find streets you recognize, and your exact micro-climate planting zone will be very clear.

Suzi

Here is a link that might be useful: USDA Plant Hardiness Interactive Map

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 10:07AM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

Look at the Sunset zones, too. They have much finer divisions than USDA.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 2:24PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

ccroulet. Sunset says I'm in zone 19, but that includes Hemet, and this is NOT the same climate up in these hills in county land, as down in the valley.

I like the USDA interactive map. It shows all the tiny micro-climates within the Sunset zones.

It's mostly all a big blend, but sometimes you can push the zone limits, or make a mini-micro-climate that will fool a plant into thriving where it normally would not.

One of my figs never went dormant! It is protected by a west facing house wall, and an east facing deck wall. It's loaded with figs and never lost a leaf, when all my unprotected ones went totally dormant. I guess all that reflected sunlight tricked it! I may put a Salvia or two that need some protection there also. Some shade loving kind. That fig will be much taller by summer, and it will have a shady canopy.

Can't wait for that Sage event on the 22nd!! So many Salvia possibilities!!

Suzi

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 2:51PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

westelle, I bought the book on Amazon, used. Didn't cost too much. I look forward to reading it and using it to design placement of Salvias here.

This land is rocky with HUGE boulders. Some are granite, some sandstone. Lots of decomposed granite. Everything well drained. Does it snow? Yes, under the right conditions. Does it stick? NO.

Before I learned so much about Salvias, I had one place for them. That place has grown, and I will be interested in the tall ones for other spots, and the shade lovers. We have a lot of trees here, and there is shade, and a need for color.

Tell me how gophers feel about Salvias. Love thing or hate thing? Gophers abound here, and we plant most things in gopher wire baskets.

I went to other links posted here, and am now pretty serious about that monkey flower and manzanita.

Suzi

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 9:18PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Tall shade lover = Salvia regla. A salvia from the mountains of west Texas and Mexico. It survives drought and blooms in spring and summer and gets beautifully tall. It has some cold hardiness to it (Z7). It likes shade and dappled shade. It will take some sun but I have never had it out in all day sun.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 10:10PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

desertdance, the female hummingbirds who fly at you are defending a nearby nest. Once you leave the immediate vicinity of the nest, they'll take no interest in you.

Male hummingbirds have a territory of up to about a quarter-acre, and defend nectar sources like feeders -- or a patch of salvias -- from other male hummingbirds, as well as females they haven't mated with. [I've never heard that they try to keep humans away from their nectar sources; certainly I've never been attacked for gardening too close to my feeder. A neighbor hangs two feeders on the edge of her front porch and sits there most of the summer to watch them, with the hummers often flying under the porch roof to hover in front of her face.]

And I agree with you about Sunset's zone system. They have most of the southern Appalachians in a single zone!

But really, USDA's Hardiness Zones are only good for indicating the average low temperature within 5ú. Sunset tries to describe the year-round climate in more detail -- but the winter lows are given a 20ú range (equivalent to 4 USDA zones), which is ... well, useless.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 9:02AM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

I can't comment on the accuracy of Sunset zones for parts of the country east of the Rockies or Europe. My main experience has been with the zones for southern Calif. and Arizona. One particularly aggravating aspect of them is that they change some of the zones with every new publication of the Sunset Garden Book. For example, they have where I live now, Anza, in Zone 7. But in the past it was Zone 10, and before that Zone 18. The zones in my current profile derives from my old home in Temecula. There's not a lot of data for Anza (but my own weather station will help to recify that), and perhaps the frequent readjustments reflect the paucity of data. For populated coastal locations, I found them to be pretty accurate and pretty specific, even to particular river valleys.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 12:32AM
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CA Kate

Desertdance: one of the many best things about Salvias is that nobody eats them.

Our land was on the backside of the mountain and very protected and so had many microclimates. Ou back hill sounds a lot like what you have. Lets see, what did best there: manzanita, olive, ground roses, rosemary, Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), Iris, Salvias -- clevelandii, aprium, arizonica, azura var. grandiflora, sonomensis (CA Native), and several huge cross-pollinated microphyllas.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 11:00PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

A low shade, part shade loving xeric salvia that likes alkaline soil is Salvia romeriana. It will seed out in its area slowly creating a springtime ground cover of low red blossoms. It is endemic on my land here. It bloomed during our big drought. I can send seeds later this spring.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 11:14PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

So many great suggestions! I can't hardly wait for that Sage Festival next Saturday. It's only about 1.5 hr drive from here. We are definitely going, and I'm taking a list with all your suggestions, plus some natives in baggies for their ID.

Thanks to all!

Oh, and wantonamara, I'd love seeds of Salvia Romeriana when you have some! Let me know!

Suzi

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 1:23PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I will collect some for you. They have not bloomed yet.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 1:50PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Garden Web is so full of generous members. Over 2 years ago, I posted that I was looking for cuttings of Pakistan Mulberry. Last October I was contacted by a member. He was pruning his tree in Nov. Would I like to come down and take cuttings? Absolutely!

A two hour drive let me have about 18 cuttings. I now have 5 rooted (and more not showing signs of life) Pakistan Mulberries. We only want two trees, so we're down to the survival of the fittest!

Wantonamara is one of those generous souls! I appreciate you gathering seeds, and I will pay for your labor and postage!

Suzi

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 2:27PM
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