Major Salvia Trimming?

santamiller(8b TX)July 30, 2014

I don't know the ID of this salvia, it was here when we moved into this house 3 years ago. It's at least 4 separate plants that covers an area of about 6 feet by 4 feet. It stays green all winter, which is a good thing, but never impresses me with the blooms, probably because we have so many trees that it only gets a few hours of direct sun in the afternoon. That said, it's very woody under the first few inches of green and really needs a big time haircut at some point. I would assume that would be best done in the early spring growing season, which here would be around March 1. Does that sound about right, or would there be a reason not to do that at all? Anything I need to know and/or am overlooking? Thanks!

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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

Where are you located? The time for pruning depends on whether you are in an arid or humid climate, and the timing of the rainy season.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 10:55AM
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santamiller(8b TX)

Sorry, I should have mentioned that. I am in San Antonio. We don't have a rainy season per se here but we do have plenty of humidity! Little chance of much rain here until the fall and our heaviest rainfall is usually March thru June, but it comes and goes at any time.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 11:06AM
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Looks like a salvia greggii type. I don't think they respond well to overly ambitious haircuts into older wood. However, they do root easily from new wood.

Maybe you (if you like it enough), would like to root cuttings and plant some in sun where it would flower much more. It's not really happy with much shade. Then you could plant something more appropriate where it was ?

Just an idea.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 11:08AM
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santamiller(8b TX)

dbarronâ¦..I'm certainly not dead set on cutting them back, I just assumed I could. I appreciate you telling me that. Most of my yard is shaded my large live oaks and cedar elms so I don't really have any place to move them to get them as much sun as they need. I think maybe I'll remove two of them from the ground next year and replace that area with something else and let the rest go as is. They are nice looking even with the sparse flowers, just takes up a little too much real estate for a low flowering plant under my conditions.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 12:18PM
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Hey, if Rich gives contradictory advice to what I said, please listen to him...he's much more of an authority than I am.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 12:58PM
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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

Even if some of the wood is old, and certainly if it is only a year or so old, layer some of the stems that are close to ground, so that they will have a chance of rooting over the growing season, When the root system has had a chance to develop, you can sever the stem from the main crown and get a much smaller plant to move. I'd experiment with pinning some stems of different age and diameter to the ground by weighing them down with a rock.

I remember that the Edwards Plateau runs along the Austin - San Antonio axis, and that west of this line, soils are caliche, a limy clay. To the east, soils are much looser. Moving a big greggii in caliche is certain to fail, because the root system will have to go deeper to find water. You can layer in caliche soils by digging out a pot-sized hole under the low stem and filling it with sand or loam. Keep a little water on it during the season, then you can dig out the "pot" early next growing season. That will concentrate the new roots in the sand. Don't leave it there for too long, or you'll find a lot of thick trunk roots with few fine roots in the sand "pot".

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 10:28PM
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santamiller(8b TX)

Richâ¦.thanks for your detailed response. I'll keep that in mind in case I ever want to move it, but I really had no intention of moving any of this, just curious if it was OK to cut it back to the ground at some point and let it do a restart to get rid of the woody area. This salvia had to have been in place for years as there are quit a few spots where the stems are rooted into the ground. By the wayâ¦..this is in a raised bed with some good soil covered with mulch, not the junk caliche that you are so very correct about.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 11:23AM
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Aren't you in the hottest part of your year now? Doing it now would scare me. Waiting until the weather moderates seem prudent.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 4:36PM
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santamiller(8b TX)

That was the whole point of my original postâ¦..when the best time to cut it back was. Somehow it got twisted into moving it. :)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 5:15PM
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Hee, sorry, we're here for the plants....trying to save their lives (in every way) :)

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 6:54AM
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PKponder TX(7b)

I am certainly no authority, but would suggest cutting it in early spring, before you see new growth. I think that everyone is concerned about how 'scalped' it will look when you cut into the woody parts and are working out ways to replace the plant if it's too unsightly.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 8:13PM
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