Salvia dentification

stingfaceAugust 28, 2010

I collected some seeds today from some salvia in my neighbors yard. I loved the color so much when it was in full bloom. I have never started these from seed before, but would like to try. First off I need to know what it is. Second, would it be easier from a cutting or from seed, and when is the best time of year to take cuttings or plant seed.

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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

This looks like the California native Salvia columbariae. Is it a short plant? We need to see the habit and foliage to be sure, since other California sages have similar flower heads.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 8:17AM
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    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 2:39PM
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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

Judging from the size of the foliage and the distance between leaves, I am now guessing Salvia clevelandii or a similar species. Is it wild, or planted? What community is it in, and what side of a hill (exposure)? Even elevation can supply a clue, if the plant is wild.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 3:22PM
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It isn't wild, but my neighbor picked it up at a native plant sale. It smells like a rose. Sweeter then the salvia clevelandii. It's darker in color and smaller then Salvia clevelandii, which is growing near by. This plant is partially under the oak canopy but I don't know if that's the ideal location. It's in the coastal foothill area, Arroyo Grande CA. which is on the central coast.
When you say similar species, does that mean a type of s. clevelandii or a different name altogether.

Is it possible to start seeds now, or would I have better success in the spring? It gets a little water, so there is a small bit of new vegetative growth. Do cuttings work better during a different time of year?


    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 11:10PM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

I agree with Rich. Looks like S. clevelandii or one of the hybrid cultivars to me. Many nursery plants sold as Salvia clevelandii are hybrids with or at least genetically contaminated with S. leucophylla, whether so designated or not. Cuttings get passed from nursery to nursery as "Salvia clevelandii," but most nurserymen have never seen S. clevelandii in nature, and they don't really know what they have. The different appearance of different plants may reflect the fact that they really are different versions, or simply that they're growing in different conditions. Real cleves tend to be smaller and darker than the hybrids. The mere fact that this plant is still in flower, and the color of the flowers, suggests to me that it's a real S. clevelandii.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 12:24AM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

Seeds: sow in late fall or early winter. You might want to get "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants," by Dara Emery.
Cuttings: time for cuttings is critical. Many Calif. natives, especially sages, are dormant now. You'll probably have most success with cuttings in Feb or Mar. If you get them at the right time, they are easy to root, but other times they may be almost impossible. I'm not the horticulturist Rich Dufresne is; this is just my own experience. It's unlikely you'll get them to do anything right now.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 3:25AM
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Thank you so much for the help. I ordered the book and I'm very excited about it. I appreciate your time and advice. I'll report back on my progress!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 6:35PM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

Uh, the book is small, but it reflects Emery's years of experience growing Calif. natives at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Where do you live? You might even have access to seminars or classes on growing natives. A couple of other books you may find interesting: "Growing California Native Plants" by Marjorie Schmidt, and "Native Treasures: Gardening with the Plants of California" by M. Nevin Smith. Schmidt's book is sort of like Emery's, but Smith's has lots of info on each group (sages, oaks, etc.), with info about propagating both seeds and cuttings. There are still other books, and if you're "into" Calif. natives, you'll get more, but I've found Smith's particularly useful.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 7:50PM
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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

If you are in Arroyo Grande, then a trip to Las Pilitas Nursery might be in order. Bert Wilson is the nurseryman expert on California sages. Bart O'Brien of Ranch Santa Ana BG knows a lot about them as well.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 1:11AM
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I have a good friend who works at the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens. (she's a student intern) We've been sharing info on this subject. I ordered Schmidt's book yesterday as well as the Emery book. I took a class years ago on growing natives. I'm just more interested now because my well is dry and I can't keep stuff alive unless it's native. My neighbor has really gone to town with some really nice salvias, so I have a source of cuttings and seeds. I have 5 acres to play with. We'll see what happens.
Thanks again for your help.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 11:39PM
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Stingface, in my experience there's two good times for taking & rooting cuttings of drought-resistant sages like Clevelandii on the SoCal coast.

1) March-early April, then rooting for a few weeks, then transplanting to 1 gallons or the yard is probably best for success in rooting, but May isn't the ideal time to plant CA native perennials and it can get time-consuming keeping all the 1 gallons alive all summer. But this is still mainly when I do it.

2) Mid-to-late Sept, then try and keep the sage cuttings cool, but not utterly devoid of some sunlight through Sept, then planting out directly in mid-late Oct. I get a much higher failure rate for rooting at this time, but the one that do root see strong. You may not see a lot of green growth at first after planting out, but the roots spread through the winter for that spring foliage burst.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 6:23PM
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