Salvia regla in full sun - or tall Salvia that likes full sun?

jenn(SoCal 9/19)October 20, 2013

I'm looking for a tall drought-tolerant Salvia for a sunny spot in clay soil. We have a mature Salvia regla (see photos below) that grows on the north side of the house where it gets only morning sun in summer. I'd love a Salvia of the same size with orange, red, or yellow blooms that tolerates sun.

I'd like one that looks similar to this -- in other words, not a dense bush but one with an open graceful habit.

I'm considering S. maderens. Any other suggestions that meet this criteria?

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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

Salvia regla and S. melissodora come to mind. Of the first species, Big Bend forms would seem to be the best. For example, Texas selections like Warnock's Choice are certainly open. The selection from Jame, Coahuila is tree-like, and the ones from Queretaro are the shrubbiest and most freely branching. The habit is strongly affected by exposure, as you can see from the image of the Jame form I shot Saturday from the JC Raulston Arboretum.

The regla form from the Huntington BG is likely a hybrid of a Big Bend form with the Queretaro form, and is more compact than the Jame form, which gets 30 feet tall in the wild. The Texas forms seem to get 6 to 8 feet tall.

Unfortunately, the Texas forms seem to be hard to find.

When they are in heavy bloom, the flowering heads bend down. On the image from the JCR Arboretum, the weight has bowed down the bush to about 65% of its height four weeks ago. The Huntington form at Plant delights (second image) is erect. This form also has been in bloom for at least six weeks before the Jame or Queretaro forms in my yard.

S. melissodora remains upright and relatively open. The third image is from a home in Watsonville, CA five years ago.

It should be possible to train the Big Bend or Jame forms to a few trunks over a few years.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 12:48PM
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Good suggestions. Add to this list S. flocculosa and S. fulgens. Both bloom 10 months plus for us and have the mass you are looking for.

Forget about S, madrensis unless you are close to the coast and have partial shade. In NorCal they can take more sun, in SoCal the sun will fry them.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 12:26AM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Thank you for your replies.

Richard - of the two pictures of S. regla, Huntington BG apperas to have the form I'm seeking - upright and open. I'm looking for one that grows 6 or more feet tall, like the one in the picture I shared. Ours grows on the north side of our house in amended clay and gets sun only in summer. And, the S. melissodora is beautiful, but I'm seeking a Salvia that blooms in warm colors (orange, red, yellow) to contrast with other nearby plants with blooms in the blue range.

KermitC - I believe I have S. flocculosa which I purchased at a plant sale several years go and it was labeled 'Rio Bamba'. It's currently growing in a spot that gets only afternoon sun. It is 3-4 feet tall with open sprawling growth -- do you think it should grow much taller than that in full sun? Research of S. fulgens tells me it may not grow as tall as I'd like - 6' or more feet tall.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 11:49AM
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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

It's hard to say how tall the S. regla Huntington will grow, since it has overwintered only one year at the JC Raulston Arboretum and at Plant Delights. It's very likely that it will get at least 6 feet tall, especially in your climate.

You will need to have fairly deeply amended soil, but I assume you have already considered that. The main problem would be drainage.

Here is a scanned slide image of S. regla as it grew on a roadside in Jame, Coahuila. This is the 30 foot tree I collected my seed from back in 1991

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 12:24PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

30 feet! It's beautiful. I have found a few seedlings beneath ours.

Ours was planted in un-amended clay when I stuck a cutting (taken from the same plant in our yard) in a spot of unamended soil just to see what would happen. Well, it took off and has done extremely well. I don't recommend that method and if I plant it again would add some amendment to the soil.

Sunset (my 2007 version) says 'Huntington' grows 3-4 feet tall, and 'Royal' to 6-7 feet. If that is true then we would have 'Royal', since I believe we've had it since before the others were released.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 7:35PM
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Our S. fulgens are 8 feet tall now. I cut them to the ground in the spring. S. flocculosa really needs sun to look and grow its best. Preferably hot sun.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 10:41PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Thank you, Kermit. I'll try a cutting of S. flocculosa in the sun and compare how it does with the one now growing in part sun. And I'll look again at S. fulgens for this spot.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 1:25AM
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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

Here is an image of a robust Salvia flocculosa at a home in the hills above Watsonville, CA. It can be quite dense, and is loaded with many small blue flowers. I'd like to see it investigated as a honeybee plant.

I have no idea where S. regla `Royal' came from. I suspect it is a garden sport from California. Betsy Clebsch might know.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 11:34AM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

WOW!! That is gorgeous, and my favorite color. Ours is open and lax, nothing like the beautiful rounded form in the photo. I will consider another spot for ours so it can reach its full potential.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 1:39PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

I found a reputable on-line vender of Salvias that carries S. regla 'Huntington Gardens Form' but only ships it from April-September due to this Salvia's winter dormancy. I don't recall when I stuck the stem in the ground that grew into the massive shrub we have now, but it probably wasn't while it was dormant.

Is S. regla better planted in spring/summer during active growth? Will it fail if I try now, if I can get my hands on a plant? I'd like to plant one sooner than next Spring if possible.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 10:19AM
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You may have some advantage to planting now in SoCal, but since this species requires dormancy you might be better off waiting until April. These are slow to emerge as well, so being in a hurry won't gain much.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 2:48PM
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