There are certain groups of plants that you just fall in love with and Salvias are one of them. What’s not to like – they flower for months, come in a massive range of colours and sizes and are easily grown. A very diverse group spread across three regions of the world, Central and South America, Central and Eastern Asia and the Mediterranean. Many have culinary and/or medicinal uses, the odd one even has psychoactive properties (we don’t sell this one ). They generally like sun but there are some that are happy in semi shade (S. omeiana).
So getting the position right is absolutely critical. As is always in the plant world, nothing is easy. There are a several (S. bulleyana, S, ulignosa, S. omeiana S. nemorosa and more) that are reasonably hardy and reliable. However there are a lot that are tender and many that don’t like winter wet. Be aware of these factors when growing them.
Nowadays there are some absolutely amazing new hybrids, many with S. gregii types as a parent. These will flower continuously from May right until the first real frosts. As such they are superb garden plants to be treasured. Most Salvias are a little temperamental when it comes to overwintering especially when grown permanently outdoors. Methods of getting them through to the next year are many but are roughly divided into three.
1) Dig up your plants and put them in a protected environment for the wettest and/or coldest months of the year.2) Place your plants in the correct environment to begin with. Salvias that are grown ‘hard’ (generally in well drained poor soil in a sunny spot) will overwinter much better than those that we have lavished lots of care, fertiliser and love on. They will almost certainly flower better too.
3) Leave your plants where they are to live or die as they may. BUT take cuttings from them in August and replant if they do succumb. I was given this gem of advice from the National Collection Holder and I must say it revolutionised my personal Salvia growing. Often, when you are prepared for them to die, they won’t…… sods law!
Propagating new plants as I have said is simplicity itself. Typical softwood cuttings are taken at almost any time during the growing season. These will give you lovely little plants to overwinter. The best time we have found for this is August. They root within three weeks and are of a sufficient size to be viable by the winter.
If you fancy something different try seed. Bought seed may be almost true to type. Home collected, especially if you grow several varieties, may well give you something a little different.
After all this you may well be completely bewildered – I know how you feel. Just have a go, the 9cm plants are inexpensive and really worth a try. Oh and they also make excellent plants for containers. What a plant!