Southern Gardening: Rockin' salvias help fall gardens perform

October 27, 2018 9:58:43 PM

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Those of you who keep up with Southern Gardening know that I'm a real fan of salvias. 

 

One reason I like them is there are so many different types to choose from. I particularly like salvia farinacea, commonly called mealy cup sage or blue sage, for its landscape performance. These are tough plants, perfect for our Mississippi landscapes. 

 

These salvias have dark-blue, tubular flowers that are densely congested in whorls along the upper stems, creating a 3- to 9-inch spikes. The plants are typically 2 to 3 feet tall. They have numerous gray-green, lance-shaped leaves, especially on the lower portion of the plant. 

 

But the sage I want to concentrate on now is from the Rockin' series by Proven Winners. I've been growing it for a couple of years, and I don't see how can you beat it for its show-stopping ability and the way it attracts butterflies, bumblebees and hummingbirds. Plus, salvias really shine in the fall.  

 

Here are some new introductions that performed great this past summer and are rockin' it as we move into fall. 

 

Although I wrote a little about Rockin' Deep Purple earlier this year, I just have to revisit it now. This plant is that good. 

 

Rockin' Deep Purple salvias display richly colored, dark-purple flowers, each with a black calyx and stems. Pollinators simply adore these plants. I like the dark calyx because it maintains a color presence after the flowers have fallen off. 

 

Rockin' Fuchsia produces showy, unique, fuchsia-colored flowers with black calyxes and stems. These richly colored plants are trouble-free, with no deadheading needed. 

 

Both Rockin' Deep Purple and Fuchsia are hybrid selections that are sterile. This means they will not set seed and become weedy. It also means the plants will be in continuous bloom all season. 

 

Rockin' Golden Delicious salvia is a real treat. This plant is an improved selection of pineapple sage with bright-yellow foliage that has a pleasant pineapple or tangerine scent. It is an ideal heat-tolerant selection. 

 

The flowering of Golden Delicious is delayed compared to Pineapple Sage, which flowers quite early and often. Early flowering is not a bad thing because the red flowers are gorgeous against the foliage. But Golden Delicious is perfect for those gardeners who just want beautiful foliage. 

 

When grown into the fall, this selection will produce the signature bright, fire-engine red flowers. 

 

These salvias can easily be trimmed during the summer to keep them at the size and shape that works best in your landscape. Pruning and shaping encourages more lateral branch growth, which means you'll get even more flowers. 

 

I like to grow my salvias in big containers, but they also grow very well in raised landscape beds. Regular watering and fertilizing will keep these plants rockin' with maximum color, growth and performance. 

 

Gary Bachman is an Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi and hosts Southern Gardening television and radio programs. Contact him at southerngar[email protected]