Shaping/pruning the habit of salvia greggii

dyhgarden(7b)September 2, 2009

The greggii that I have that were labeled "autumn sage" are planted on the south side of my house where the sun goes straight overhead in the summer from east to west.

However, these three sages want to grow toward the south, almost growing sideways. I've not had this problem with the other greggii, even the ones growing in partial sun under crape myrtles. There are salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue' behind them (north side of the plants) and no overhanging trees.

Anyway, they are in full bloom right now and beautiful, if not for the sideways habit. Is it best to wait until next spring to shape them? I am concerned that they are very rapidly getting woody stems and it will be difficult to get a good growth habit.

I planted these from 4" pots one year ago today and they are already 3 feet and leaning. Which makes me think that it was the autumn sun, lower in the sky, followed by the winter sun, lower in the southern sky that may be responsible for the start-up of leaning.

I'll also want to move them out in the meadow garden. Is it a problem to move them now, while large and in full bloom? They are overhanging my stream and I have fears that the big bullfrogs are going to snag a hummingbird while sipping from the salvia!

Thanks,

Cameron

zone 7b NC

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wardda

Mine always lean in the direction of the most open sky, and this is true even when the trees or structures are as far as 50 feet away. I am surprised that your other greggii don't have the same habit. I have never found a way to prune them into submission

I guess you could move them now with a reasonable chance of success. I only move established greggii and microphylla in the spring and at the time when they first show new growth - mid to late April. So far no transplanted salvia of these types has ever been lost and in fact they never show any signs that they were disturbed other than a little wilt the first day. I do make sure to get very large root balls.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 3:22PM
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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

Wardda's advice on timing, size of the root ball, and pruning is spot on. I think the stream is the reason your plants are sprawling. The air above the stream is much cooler (water is a good heat sink), and the stems are growing in the direction that most suits them.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 3:32PM
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dyhgarden(7b)

I will definitely leave them until spring. They are too beautiful to risk moving right now.

That's interesting about the stream. I hadn't thought of that since it is full sun. That might explain the reason why these salvia have bloomed non-stop since April?

As for my other greggii, the 'Cherry Queen' are on the southwest side of the house and aren't leaning. They are very upright, but I planted them this past spring.

The 'Dark Dancer' are the oldest greggii in my garden, probably 4 years old. They are straight up, but they are out in the meadow garden with nothing but open sky.

The 'Navajo Bright Red' are on the north side of a weeping willow. The woody part of each is straight, but the blooms turn toward the east. They are planted on a steep slope.

The 'Diane' is on the other side of the stream and is facing straight up, with blooms in all directions.

The 'Texas Sage' is in front of the roses and is straight up. The roses are on the south, and so this sage gets east-west sun. It's being shaded by tall zinnias right now!

This is the 'autumn sage' in a photo taken in mid-July. The stems are much longer now and it is still blooming. The lavender-blue groundcover beneath it is Heliotropium amplexicaule 'Azure Skies' which is a creeping, perennial heliotrope (not like the fragrant annual) a great companion for salvias.

Thanks!
Cameron

    Bookmark   September 2, 2009 at 6:45PM
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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

That's interesting about the stream. I hadn't thought of that since it is full sun. That might explain the reason why these salvia have bloomed non-stop since April?

That would certainly be very consistent with the cooler microclimate. Also, the flowers would be larger. Heat has a way of reducing the flower size on my sages. Many of these are found on slopes, both the xeric ones and the cloud forest ones. That's why Beysy Clebsc's garden always sparkles. She gets cooling from Pacific fog up to 10 - 11 AM.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 4:51PM
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dyhgarden(7b)

I will pay more attention to the microclimates. That streamside location is also protected in winter. Our house is passive solar and that spot in the garden seldom gets any frost.

Just on the other side and over the fence, uphill in the meadow garden is the 'Dark Dancer' (shown this side of the buddleia at the top of the slope). It is facing straight up, skyward in this early June photo. I have 3 young 'Dark Dancer' plants that I checked today. All are in the meadow garden and all are straight up. One was planted at the same time as the leaning autumn sage last September. The other two young ones were planted this spring.

The buddleia is 'Adonis Blue'; the spirea (lower magenta) 'neon flash' and those are Japanese irises at the very bottom (in the rain garden). There are larkspur and rose campion mixed in there, too.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 8:02PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I would lean towards the stream too if I were planted there..

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 1:26PM
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