California sages

sarahbn(z6Pa.)June 2, 2006

I ordered some California sages and desert penstemons this past January(I don't know what got into me). Here in southest Pa it's humid and rains alot my soil is full of rocks and clay and very moist. I was wondering if I could put these plants in a window tBox and use cactus sand and potting soil to grow in Would this be better than planting them in heavy wet clay soil.Would they survive and thrive has anyone tried this before? Thank you

Here are a few Salvia pachyphylla Salvia dorrii a few others

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Many of the semi-desert and desert Salvias and Penstemon can take more moisture than they are used to getting in nature, but it is important to give them very good drainage to avoid root rot. I think your idea about a window box or a raised garden with the proper soil would work well for the summer months, but I'm not certain what winter would bring...

Many Penstemon are short-lived and treated like annuals, so these may fare better from year to year if you are able to save seed, (some species take two years to flower).


    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 7:27PM
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karen__w(z7 Durham, NC)

The only California sage I've grown with any success is S. clevelandii. I've got it in a terra cotta pot, in a mix of potting soil, perlite, permatill, and grani-grit. I usually bring it in during the winter, but this past year was unusually mild and dry in NC so I left it outside most of the time. I think I just brought it in once or twice when we had freezing rain. I've tried a number of southwestern penstemons but none of them ever looked very happy and all of them eventually died, despite my best efforts to select species that are more tolerant of moisture.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 9:51PM
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rosewomann(z7 MD Montg. Co)

Which Penstemons?
I have several Penstemons that have done really well in my garden. None that I have grown from seed have succumbed to winter weather(the ones that can't tolerate it never germinated with winter sowing-seeds probably rotted), but I have lost a lot of western Agastaches & Salvia 'Pozo Blue' to wet winters. If you plant in raised beds, you may want to use smooth rocks as mulch so as to keep the water away from the trunk. Also try to keep the stem protected, I have read that you can tape over a broken stem so I doesn't fill with water.
It is really tricky to find the right spot. Plant it too high & it may need some water in a dry winter like last.
I wonder if planting on my sloped area would keep the water off...
Why do we eastern folk want western gardens?
Good luck!


    Bookmark   June 10, 2006 at 4:52PM
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karen__w(z7 Durham, NC)


Which penstemons are doing well for you?


    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 7:56PM
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rosewomann(z7 MD Montg. Co)

Hi Karen ,

Not sure on all the names as about 7 were grown from seed. I put four species in one milk jug(times 5) & when they mixed together(duh!) I could only guess at what had germinated. Have a look at my flickr page of Salvias, Agastaches, and Penstemons. These pictures were taken last year, I have added quite a few to my collection since.


Here is a link that might be useful: My Salvias/Agastaches/Penstemons

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 1:11AM
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