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Tender Salvias


At 11:57 AM 12/24/99 EST, you wrote:
 >
>Narda
>
>PS tell me more about tender salvias
>
 Narda,
There are many, many perennial Salvias, that vary in their hardiness from
truly hardy (like the popular S. 'May Night' and 'Blue Queen') to
"half-hardy" to tender (like Pineapple Sage and Mexican Sage, S.
leucantha). Here in z7a, I grow a lot of the half-hardy ones in the garden,
and over winter the tender ones (that won't tolerate freezing at all, or
won't go much below freezing) in the greenhouse. Even the half-hardy ones
can bite the dust if we have an exceptionall cold, wet winter.

In general, Salvias prefer sun to part sun, sepending on the species. But
there are two at least that do well in shade with the hostas. They are S.
koyamae and S. nipponica 'Fuji Snow.'  Both are carried by Plant Delights,
and both have been reliably hardy for me here. S. koyamae has broad,
arrow-shaped, lightly hairy leaves, forms a sprawling clump about 2' in
diameter. Dies to the ground in winter. Flowers appear in late fall, lemon
yellow on a loose spike. A lovely plant for the part shade garden. Unlike
most of the other Salvias, they are not drought tolerant, though, and will
wilt if soil becomes dry.

'Fuji Snow' was new for me this year. Also yellow flowered (I think..It
hasn't bloomed yet), but has lovely variegated leaves (light green edged
with pure white) and looked really pretty with H. 'Patriot.' Will see how
it makes it through the winter..It has also died down, but has signs of
green at the base, so I hope it comes back.

Both of these are good landscape plants, but don't hold a candle to the
other half-hardy and tender Salvias that require sun, IMHO. There is a
species of little sulfur butterflies that I only see in late fall, in great
numbers, and they go nuts over the fall-blooming Salvias, particularly
Pineapple Sage (S. elegans). They grab hold of the flowers and hang upside
down while they drink, looking like yellow leaves just about to fall. I
love sitting in the garden at that time surrounded by clouds of butterflies. 

Let me know if you want info on the sun lovers, too. The best resource for
Salvias is Betsey Clebsch's book, published by Timber Press. John Sutton's
book (also from Timber Press) is a good one, too. But Betsey's has the best
info on hardiness.

Gerry
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