Salvias in containers, what are your experiences?

Discussion in 'Container Gardening' started by Nikolaos, Jul 23, 2021.

  1. Nikolaos

    Nikolaos Total Gardener

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    Hi All,

    Haven't tried many salvias in containers as I usually find they do better in the ground. Would like to try digging a few of my planted ones out and putting them in pots (partly because I'm running out of space in my small garden!:biggrin:), but they seem quite hit and miss in containers! 'African Sky' did well for a couple of years but was about 2/3rds of its current size, however that may be partly due to the plant maturing as well as being in the ground. 'Nachtvlinder' coped but was unimpressive. 'Caradonna' has recently been put into a pot and looks rather promising. 'Blue Marvel' did well in the ground the first year I had it, then was potted up next Summer and was a complete disaster, only producing 2-3 flowers! Doing much better this year now it's back in the ground. :)

    Do you find that yours do well in containers and what soil mix do you typically use?

    Thanks,

    Nick
     
  2. NigelJ

    NigelJ Total Gardener

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    @Nikolaos I've grown Amisted in a pot since 2018, it was in the ground before the "Beast from the East" hen the slugs wouldn't let it get going. It does better in the pot than in the ground with me, currently by the front door, needs frequent watering. Will go into the greenhouse to overwinter in the autumn.
    I've also grown S corrugata in a pot and it was quite happy, the first one I went in the ground in 2017 this last winter finished it off. I do have two babies from cuttings coming along fortunately.
    As for soil mix: my usual half potting compost, half garden soil.
     
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    • Victoria

      Victoria Lover of Exotic Flora

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      Mine are in containers but as you know it is a different situation for me weatherwise so I am afraid I cannot assist.
       
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      • Glynne Williams

        Glynne Williams Gardener

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        Ģood half in pots all the time. Half hardy mostly in pots and any newly bought varieties always in pots for first year. During this period I take cuttings. Thus 1 year old in either cold or heated greenhouse for first Winter, depending on hardiness. Hardy varieties go out in ground mulched 2" at least. Hardy varieties in large pots moved to sheltered spot and occasionally pot wrapped in bubble wrap. Pots also mulched. Have to watch for early spring slug attack (they love very hardy patens!, even in greenhouse!) Well drained soil, plus compost, lots of grit. Change compost every third year. Don't dead head as collect seed, now grow at least 6 varieties from seed!
         
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        • pete

          pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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          I've only got two types, but I bought this one for half price back in June and it's not look back since I planted it in a medium sized pot.
          It was a dried out sad looking plant which is why I got it half price.
          DSC01609.JPG
           
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          • longk

            longk Total Gardener

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            As with all these things it is never quite that straightforward.
            My rule of thumb is that if it is not hardy then it is a pot. They need to be potted on annually using slow release in the mix and regularly fed when in bloom too.
            If it is hardy then it is the ground. Some, such as 'Nachtvlinder' can become positively thuggish in the ground. Many hardy forms will only survive in the ground - S.dolichantha is a good example.
            If it is borderline hardy then choose a spot in the ground carefully (ie up against the house, a wall etc) and make sure that the drainage is good. 'Amistad' is ubiquitous in central London and it survives perfectly well up against my parents house in the Cotswolds. S.involucrata has become an absolute beast in the same spot too.
            Above all, Salvia all need good drainage wherever they grow.. There are a couple of exceptions but they are too rare to fret about.
             
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            • Glynne Williams

              Glynne Williams Gardener

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              Exactly!
              So many new varieties coming out! Tend to buy plug plants and grow on just 'to see '! Because they'll be indoors I can supervise them, so to speak! Really tender ones are in big pots from the garden ( Confertiflora my favourite and keeps flowering and allowing cuttings to be taken anytime!) Should stop buying them in but always a chance of hybrid!
              Bought two white Patens this year, cuttings potted up now outside but will have winter holiday! Lost my Chilcombe but ordered up for next season! All my Cambridge blue in pots now as lost those outside, glad of cuttings and found seed on line this year. Will keep them all indoors this Winter, though 'the gardener ' just told me one has shown itself on the cold side of the house! Said no, so she went out with tablet and photographed it! Good pic of a dark blue (Oxford blue) Patens !!!! Not criticism as she now very knowledgeable, she knew it was a Patens variety!!
              Best new this year ??? Salvia sag Blue Butterflies, from Sarah Raven, Robust plant, tall stalks (1.5M) many long blue influences. Needed support but should be fine next year supported by other, possibly red, salvias! Should be a little like a blue moving Verbena bonsariensis perhaps!?
               
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              • Nikolaos

                Nikolaos Total Gardener

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                Thanks very much All for the useful and extremely detailed replies! :) Well, since most of my salvias are currently in a pollinator-friendly border it seems the moths have recently made my decision for me, as a Hummingbird Hawkmoth has visited Salvia 'Icing Sugar'! :yes: Another species which I haven't managed to identify yet has been regularly feeding from 'Icing Sugar', 'Nachtvlinder' and 'African Sky' after dusk! So 'Blue Marvel' will be going in another border as it's such a poor performer in a pot and I'll just try 'Amethyst Lips' in a large container. TBH I was initially quite disappointed with 'Amethyst Lips', as it seems to have an odd sort of sprawling/bushy habit and the flowers are smaller than I expected, I do love the variability of flower colour tho!

                I haven't grown patens but I seriously need to make some garlic spray soon, their attack on my S. nemorosa 'Blue Marvel' has been absolutely relentless since Spring, which is peculiar as they've never touched my 'Caradonna' or even any other salvias I own! :scratch:

                Thanks, that's what I was doing until now, planting them straight into the ground as the rest are hardy, but I always remove 'African Sky' in Autumn and pot up near a wall, it's an H3 so borderline hardy and therefore very risky to leave in the ground here in Notts. :)

                Nick
                 
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                  Last edited: Aug 28, 2021
                • Glynne Williams

                  Glynne Williams Gardener

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                  Thanks for feedback, just read! Never thought about night moths! Must look if I can tear myself from TV!
                  Bought Blue Butterflies earlier and its a revelation! Hoping for seeds (????) but obviously cuttings now. Not fully hardy so still in pot which will come inside soon. Next year will go out into old rockery, which is really well drained Salvia bed. It will go amongst the big fully hardy red varieties as its 2M almost and very foriferous!
                   
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                  • JJ28

                    JJ28 Gardener

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                    I have never grown salvias before! But was given Hot Lips which is doing well in a pot. Should I leave it in the pot and move into unheated conservatory please?
                     
                  • CanadianLori

                    CanadianLori Total Gardener

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                    Is it the leaf shape and shineyness that determines if a salvia is hardy or not?
                     
                  • NigelJ

                    NigelJ Total Gardener

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                    @JJ28 Hot Lips is supposed to be hardy throughout most of the UK. I would stand the pot somewhere sheltered outside where it's not going to get too wet.
                    Many people just have it planted in the ground. I don't have Hot Lips (bit of a cold fish me), but I have a number of relatives that have been outside for many years.
                     
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                    • NigelJ

                      NigelJ Total Gardener

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                      Unfortunately no. Salvias are widely distributed around the world occupying many environmental niches. They are found both in Eurasia and the Americas. There is a centre of Salvia diversity in Central America and they can be found from sea level to well up in the mountains.
                       
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                      • JJ28

                        JJ28 Gardener

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                        Thank you for the advice NigelJ. I shall stand the pot on little feet in a corner between the hedge and fence and hope to put in ground next year.
                         
                      • Glynne Williams

                        Glynne Williams Gardener

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                        My hardy ( from books and online sites) varieties stay in pots for first year indoors (cool greenhouse) then planted in well drained (lot of added grit in planting hole, itself in old rockery or alpine bed) In winter I heavily mulch, first with pine needles, then good woody based compost to maintain drainage. This is placed around stalks as I don't cut down to ground straightaway. That happens in Spring. Half hardy stuff, eg Confertiflora, gets dug up towards end of October, or earlier if frost threatens, and spends Winter in containers in heated (9 degrees) greenhouse/old conservatory. Many there have cuttings taken straightaway, whilst others have to wait until there's room for them to be rooted!!
                        Planting outdoors has been patchy even for so called hardy varieties. I initially went on an RHS course at Ashwoods Nursery in the West Midlands and can remember the advice regarding planting and drainage. I use a great deal of grit in my potting compost (I sometimes think its very close to Cuttings compost!!) However one of the major points I wrote down regarding getting them through Winter was making sure fungi were not encouraged as More Salvias succumb to disease than frost! The only other thing I'd say was that there are short-lived Salvias which disappear sometimes so Take Cuttings of everything!
                        Also I rarely dead head as I really enjoy growing from seed, just Look for them!!!
                         
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