|Lipstick Sage looks better planted in mass|
Sadly, it has come time to wrap up this series on groundcovers as I have a lot more posts coming up to share with everyone on various plants, thoughts on life, travel stories, and recent trips/photoshoots from around the state. I enjoy writing on the latter and as soon as this garden journal series ends, I'll be able to write random posts again. For now, it's back to writing on wonderful groundcovers for our hot Sonoran desert. Lipstick Sage is a great plant to have around your garden. It offers lovely red blossoms in spring and offers that intense green color that we transplants miss from the East coast:) At my high school, these plants are used in mass plantings in almost full shade but I've also seen them planted in bright morning sun. They do tend to fry a bit in summer and require regular waterings. This year the freeze didn't seem to affect them that much and currently are bushy, green, and full of blossoms. It can grow to be about 3 to 6 feet and around 2 feet wide....or at least what I've seen here. This is a popular plant for hummingbirds and great choice for the Tucson area.
"Salvias need soil that drains well. In soil that's too wet or too dry, the plants will just sit, producing no new growth or flowers. In water-logged soil, the roots may rot. When you have selected a site, amend the soil by digging in a 2-inch (5 cm) layer of compost or peat moss before planting.
Set salvias in the ground at the same depth or slightly below the level they were growing in the pots. Many salvia are easy to start from seed. Rich, fertile conditions are not necessary to grow salvia, but adequate drainage is. Salvia will perform best if grown in well-drained soil. When planting from seed, the seed may be sown outdoors after all danger of frost is past and the soil has warmed to at least 65 degrees F. Scatter the seeds right where the salvia are to be displayed. Firm or rake seeds into a loose soil -- if the seed is planted too deep, germination can be affected. Keep the soil moist for 5 - 10 days after seeding. Seeds will germinate in 7 - 21 days. If the early spring has been cold, soil temperatures will remain cool also. If the soil temperature is below 65 F., seeds may not germinate as rapidly. Thinning is really not necessary.
Salvia needs only basic care to provide a colorful abundance of blooms all summer long. After the seedlings emerge, water VERY SPARINGLY. In lieu of any rainfall during an entire month, give the planting bed a long, slow drink. Salvia is drought tolerant, providing abundant blooms with less water than most other plants. Herein lies the problem which many people encounter when growing salvia -- they over-care for their salvia plants. Over-care means too much water and too much fertility. Excess fertilization will cause plants to grow too tall and produce excessive leaf growth at the expense of flower production. When over-care occurs, salvia becomes tall and spindly and blooms sparsely. When the spring-planted or spring-sprouting salvia begins to look as if there are an abundance of dried seed pods, encourage new growth and re-bloom simply by cutting the plants back to one-half their height. They will be back in bloom in less than a month.
In addition to looking beautiful in the garden, salvias make great cut flowers. They add touches of color to country-style arrangements, spiky height to miniature bouquets, and accents to wreaths and swags. Salvia are particularly pretty as cut flowers, whether fresh or dried. Fresh-cut salvia bring an airy appearance to arrangements. To gather salvias for fresh or dried arrangements, cut them when about half of the flowers have begun to open on each stem - the flowers open from the bottom up. That's particularly important if you're going to air-dry the flowers; fully open blooms will shatter and drop off as they dry. For fresh use, pick early in the morning before the dew has dried. For dried use, gather stems later, after the morning dew has evaporated. Salvia can be used as an everlasting in dried arrangements. You can air-dry the flowers easily: Simply tie five or six stems together with a rubber band and hang the bunches upside down in a dry, airy place. You can let them air-dry upright in a vase, but some of the stems may flop over. If you're crafting a wreath or swag with other flowers and herbs before they're dried, remember that the fresh material will shrink a bit as it loses moisture, so you should use more of all the materials to have a full, showy wreath.
Most gardeners find Salvia to be relatively pest - and disease - free. And the GOOD NEWS IS, it is not a preferred food for the deer population." End of article.
More to come. I hope you've enjoyed this series. Until tomorrow!