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Life After Lawn: Sage with island style

Santa Rosa Island sage, which can grow up to 4 feet, offers lavender-blue flowers that butterflies can’t resist.
Santa Rosa Island sage, which can grow up to 4 feet, offers lavender-blue flowers that butterflies can’t resist. Special to The Bee

This is one part in the UC Davis Arboretum’s “Life After Lawn” weekly series – 45 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region and ideal for drought-tolerant landscapes.

Santa Rosa Island sage

Salvia brandegeei “Pacific Blue”

Size: 3 to 4 feet tall and wide

Bloom season: Blue flowers in spring and early summer

Exposure: Full sun

Pruning needs: When young, cut back by one-third in late summer or fall to encourage compact growth. Mature woody plants need only tip pruning.

Water needs: Low; once established, water deeply once a month.

Snapshot: This handsome California sage is a variation of wild salvia from the Channel Islands. The “Pacific Blue” cultivar was discovered growing in the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, which introduced it to home gardeners in 2004. With darker lavender-blue flowers than other Salvia brandegeei, this is one of the most drought-tolerant California native sages. Its handsome blue flowers bloom in whorls along 1- to 2-foot flower stalks throughout spring and early summer. Those flowers are nectar magnets for native pipevine swallowtail butterflies. In late summer and fall, the chocolate-colored seed pods are a popular food source for birds.

For more on “Life After Lawn,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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