Blue Sage (Salvia clevelandii) in Vancouver
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Mike Burns
Posted on: May 31, 2003

With regards to Blue sage, Salvia clevelandii, how can it best be cultivated in Vancouver, B.C. I have found very useful info on in Escondito California, where Bert Wilson has been a great help, but as far as growing them this far north it is all new. I am trying to find a dry spot where they won’t get too much winter rain.

But how hardy do you have them figured? Any other growing tips?

All is very much appreciated. I heard of your place from a lady who was a former resident of San Diego now at Christina Lake, B.C. who ordered several S. clevelandii from you.

Salvia clevelandii is rated hardy in USDA zones 9-10. Vancouver is rated zone 8 which is too cold. It is sometimes possible to "push" plants to survive one zone colder with techniques such as mulching, improving drainage, and protecting from the wind, etc. But as S. clevelandii is a dryland species that does not thrive in damp conditions for long, my feeling is that it is going to be difficult to get it to winter over in your area. It is worth a try, but keep some plants indoors just to be safe.

There is no reason why you couldn’t grow S. clevelandii as a summer annual just like so many of other tender plants that are grown as annuals in Canada; petunias, marigolds, tomatoes, peppers and geraniums are a few. Or, you can keep it going for years by wintering it indoors in pots and planting it outdoors in the garden in spring. For the determined plant enthusiast, these extra measures are well worth it.

One comment about the USDA hardiness zones: they are based solely on average minimum temperatures; they do not take into account such crucial factors as snow cover, mulching, soil drainage, humidity and precipitation. Zones should be seen as nothing more than a guide for predicting winter survival – a very rough one at that. In fact they have very little bearing on what you can successfully grow as summer plants if you are wintering your plants indoors or buying new plants every spring.

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