July 21, 2010

When In Drought, Combine Sedum and Sage

Sedum 'Green Expecations' (back) with
spires of salvia nemorosa Bordeau™ 'Steel Blue'
Having doubts about what to plant for summer heat with little rain? When the temperature or heat index hits the triple digits—as high as 110°F, the strong survivors in the garden keep the color coming. Sedum and sage partner well to use under extreme heat conditions.

There are sedum varieties available for zones 4-10 and in many shapes and colors. The succulent foliage of sedum is a perfect complement to salvias and neither plant requires much water after established in the garden.

Sedum 'Blue Spruce', 'Angelina' and other low, ground-covering sedum can easily be tucked in at the front of a border. Divide the low sedums to make more plants and conquer space in short time.

Sedums are great for the budget as they easily root when pinched and planted directly in the soil. Other succulents that can be rooted the same way include ice plant (delosperma cooperii) and the annual purple queen (setcreasea pallida). Both the ice plant and the purple queen are drought tolerant and also work as companions with the sedum and sage.

Pinching the tips of the large-leaved varieties, such as 'Green Expectations', 'Autumn Joy' or 'Purple Emperor' not only is good for shaping the main plant for a late bloom, but also provides a gardener with extra plants that quickly mature in a year.

Trio of sedum, (left clockwise)
'Green Expectations', 'Purple Emperor' and 'Beka'
with salvia 'Mystic Spires Blue'
Sage or salvias, with low water needs, are also easy to use in the summer garden. There are both annuals and perennials that can be incorporated into sunny areas.

The perennial salvia nemorosa types vary in bloom time and need cutting back for rebloom. The spires make lovely companions, but may not give you continuous bloom.

The tender perennials (hardy to zone 7) include salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue', salvia 'Mystic Spires Blue' (compact form of 'Indigo Spires') and the long-blooming annual salvia farinacea 'Victoria'. These provide blooms all summer long.

The salvia greggii varieties are more shrub-like, with most growing up to three feet high. In zone 7, they begin blooming in spring, bloom off-and-on in the summer, then put on another big show in autumn. The hot pink 'Autumn Sage' is a great long-blooming choice, though other colors are available such as the unusual white 'Texas Wedding' to the deep purple 'Ultra Violet'.

No matter which sedum or salvia you choose, these plants can stand up to the summer heat and low water conditions.
Salvia greggii 'Autumn Sage'
Salvia greggii 'Ultra Violet'

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks, copyrights, or patents owned by those respective companies or persons.

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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