S. pachyphylla...I think I'm in love!

amazindirt(7A mid-TN)December 31, 2007

All I can say is Wooooooooooowwwwwww....

Just found this at High Country Gardens. I want one!

Here is a link that might be useful: High Country Gardens -- S. pachyphylla

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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

Yes, it is quite nice. I hope you can at least partially simulate the arid coastal mountain climate. For Tennessee as well as North Carolina, this means dry air, which brings on chilly nights. If the day temps go to 95, they should drop to 50, even 45, but not to just 65 - 75. Hot humid nights are murder on California sages because they try to continue growing in the dark.

Cool, wet weather from winter monsoons where nights are around 45 and day temps are around 70 - 80 are the times they put on spurts of growth. As spring approaches, the rains taper off and temps rise, and then they go to bloom. They share some characteristics of chaparral and desert plants and bloom after rains but do not need to respond so quickly.

For more precise growing conditions, visit Las Pilitas Nursery. Bert Wilson is an expert on California sages.

Here is a link that might be useful: Las Pilitas Nursery

    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 9:36PM
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I tried one on a lark here in New Jersey in the driest hottest place I could find, and also planted it well away from other plants so there would be good air movement. It grew to about 10"X10". The fact that it survived at all probably had to do with our protracted drought, which while not as bad as the drought in the southeast was bad enough. It did not bloom this summer. Right now it is growing lots of new leaves along its stems and is looking quite stout and happy. Even if it doesn't survive the coming summer it looks as if it will hang on long enough to show its stuff in spring.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 8:59AM
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amazindirt(7A mid-TN)

Heck, I even have a hard time keeping poppies and lavender alive here. But I can still drool!

I may just donate one to the UT Gardens, where I volunteer. They have a very successful large xeric bed, and it would be interesting to see how the plant would do there. It sure is gorgeous! And we do have relatively cool nights -- even in mid-summer, nights are more like 65 than 75 -- so you never know!

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 10:35AM
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You'd be amazed at how unknown and unappreciated this sage is in S. California. I looked all over this fall and there were about 3 nurseries I could find that even occasionally stocked them and all were out. I guess I will have to break down and pay for shipping from HCG because I really want one or two.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 11:58PM
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There is a new cultivar listed in HCG that seems like it is worth trying. I was tempted but decided it probably wasn't worth it to invest in another version when I doubt that the one I have will survive the return of more normal weather. If I lived in your area I'd go whole hog.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 12:19PM
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Darn that High Country Gardens. Every year for almost 15 years I think OK I've got enough no more ordering from HCG next year and then they come out with something new that just begs to be tried. Our Pachyphylla has been a very dependable easy plant in our hot dry climate for five years but now we just must have it's "sister" and see how in what way it might be an improvement. And of course at HCG there is a six plants minimum but that is never hard to exceed once you look through there catalog.

Will it never stop!


    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 1:23PM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

> Hot humid nights are murder on California sages because > they try to continue growing in the dark.

Not questioning that hot, humid nights are "murder on California sages" (you should know), but how did you arrive at the reason?

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 3:48PM
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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

First, the temperature changes depend on the atmosphere and its reflectivity and what scientists like myself call specific heat. The latter refers to the heat-holding capacity of the medium. Air is definitely better than a vacuum: on the moon, the day temps can go up in the multiple hundreds and drop almost as far below zero in the dark. Water, even as water vapor, is much better at holding heat than dry air, which accounts for the differences I referred to in my previous post. When the dew point is high (high humidity), airborne particles of all sides get wet, increasing their size and contributing to the reflection of heat. Clouds are some of nature's best blankets, and then the opposite extreme is reached with volcanic clouds and during nuclear winters.

Inside the leaves

Chemical reactions, including photosynthesis, roughly accelerate logarithmically by a factor of 10 for every 10 degrees. So at 60 degrees, ten times as much sugar and oxygen is made from water and carbon dioxide than at 50 degrees, but at 70 degrees, the factor is one hundred.

For the foliar factories to work properly, all the ingredients have to be present at the right ratio to have a useful result. Too much heat and not enough light will stress the chloroplasts and weaken the plant.

Finally, the difference between desert and tropical plants.

Plants native to deserts do not need a shutdown mechanism because the cold night temps are all that is needed to turn off the chloroplasts. The tropical ones by necessity have evolved controlling mechanisms to shut down the sugar factories when there is no light. When the desert plants encounter a hot humid night, they keep trying to photosynthesize in the dark and wear themselves and the host plant down. The energy needed to running the chloroplasts comes from the previous day's sugars. Think of a power plant (coal, gas, even nuclear) that needs some energy to run its own regulatory equipment.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chloroplast on Wikipedia

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 8:36PM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

Thank you. My education was in zoology, but I spent most of my working career in other pursuits. Botany was not in my ciriculum, except in beginning general bio classes. If I had it to do again, I would have taken the bio major, which would have given me some botany.

Except for taxpayer-paid sojourns in Vietnam and Maryland, I've lived my 63 years in southern Calif., mostly near the coast, but the last 15 years have been inland, where summer days are hotter and nights are cooler in all seasons. This fall-winter we've had several weeks of below-normal temps, with days mostly in the 60s and even 50s, and nights in the 30s and low 40s. Lows will likely remain in the 40s even into May, though coastal nights will be in the upper 50s by then.

My S. apiana seedlings are growing slowly. From what you say, they should really take off in another month or two. The main problem I've encountered isn't the weather, but unknown critter(s). The morning of Jan 1 I found many of the pots overturned and growing medium spread around. I lost 13 plants (out of 98), most of which simply disappeared, and some others are probably not going to survive. We have opossums in the neighborhood (we see them fairly frequently), and we've even seen raccoons (once). So the troublemaker is between these two. Unfortunately, right now I'm pretty much obligated to keep the seedlings outdoors.

I'll be looking for S. pachyphylla (the subject of the thread) this spring, when they are in flower. There are numerous records from an area east of me (I'm in Temecula, CA), so I'll be looking for that and S. eremostachya, too.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 9:53PM
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Now that would make a fun field trip. It would interesting to come back with some cuttings and try the local stuff in the garden - something we can't do here.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 12:30PM
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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

My friend John Sorenson (the Monardella Man) told me that the form of pachyphylla on a high ridge in your area is one of the cold hardiest forms.

By the way, the new introduction from High Country Gardens is Salvia pachyphylla `Blue Flame'

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 1:58PM
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amazindirt(7A mid-TN)

That's the link I provided in the original post. ;-)

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 2:01PM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

Actually, I had a senior moment, and the species I was thinking of is S. vaseyi. But S. pachyphylla is in roughly the same area, on the slopes of the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains, above Palm Springs & Palm Desert. Much of this is now a national monument. I looked for vaseyi and eremostachya a couple of months ago, but virtually all of the records in calflora.org and Consortium of California Herbaria are spring-time records. I'll take the hint and wait to look when they are flower.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 3:47PM
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I grew that one year. I really had to baby it but it did bloom in magenta and blue. The year I grew it was a wonderfully dry year for us 2005. Here are two pictures I took when it first started blooming I won't grow it again it's not for my part of the country and I prefer natives

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 1:09PM
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I wanted to post this after seeing SarahBN pics because her Pachyphylla looks so different from ours. Plants not suited to a climate just never seem to be worth it which is why there are so many Salvias I'll just have to enjoy from others gardens.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 10:55AM
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Your picture of S. pachyphylla is just so drop-dead gorgeous and totally stunning!!!

I am insane with jealousy as this Salvia refuses to flower in the UK! I have received seeds from the USA which germinate well....grow into shrubby plants....but will they flower here????? NO!

S. clevelandii is marginally more successful, perhaps the easiest here is S. munzii.

Send me some Californian sunshine, and I may get lucky....though I have read that snowstorms are the order of the day in Northern California right now.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 4:08PM
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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

The differences in the number of blooms, colored vs non-colored bracts, and flower color intensity between mohavemaria and sarahbn's S. pachyphyllas can be explained by the climate differences I explained to ccroulet.

By growing this desert sage in a subtropical climate, the resources that would be dedicated to the brighter colors are going into making the plant grow at night.

Also, to ccroulet, I had a conversation with my friend John and the sage growing to the east of Temecula ia clevelandii. He told me of some nice forms of pachyphylla that he found in Kennedy Meadow to the northwest of Pearsonville, Inyo County, California.

He also showed me where to find Salvia funerea in Titus Canyon, by following the road from Beatty, Nevada, by the old ghost town of Rhyolite, east into the canyon (you can only go from east to west into California) where it dumps down onto North Highway in Death Valley.

Then there was the collection site for Salvia greatae north off of Bradshaw Road on the northwest border of the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, which is just east of the Salton Sea.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 8:06PM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

Rich: I know where Kennedy Meadow is, and I may have a chance to get up there later in the year. Salvia pachyphylla also reportedly grows on the slopes of the Santa Rosa Mtns., particularly near Santa Rosa Spring. That's only about 50 miles east of me and an easy drive, except maybe for the dirt road up to the spring. About May would be a good time to look for it. S. clevelandii allegedly grows in a canyon south of CA Hwy 79, directly south of Vail Lake, on the northern slopes of Palomar Mtn, east of me. I haven't yet figured out a way to get in there. This is the only population that I'd consider to be "east" of me *and* that is shown in two data bases that I've consulted. If your friend knows of another locality east of Temecula, then I and some other people would be interested to know about it. There are more populations in San Diego Co.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 8:49PM
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Thanks for your kind words. It would be great to be able to grow all the salvias you do but our summers would kill most of them off before July so thank goodness for those California and Texas sages that can handle the furnace of our summers. Be happy to trade you some of that sunshine for some of your rain, our average is 4 inches a year and we've been lagging.

Rich I was happy for the information on S. funerea. We've been to Rhyolite a couple of times and love bumming around the desert so long as it's before summer hits. Maybe we'll be able to hunt some of these elusive Salvias up.

Not a salvia but not what you would expect to find in the middle of the desert in Rhyolite

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 11:40AM
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Ccroulet, you can also use the record of observations at Calflora for detailed geographical data about specimen sightings. That's an excellent site for all sorts of CA native info and pictures.

Any excuse to go to Kennedy Meadow is a good one - what a beautiful place. Mohavemaria, that is an outstanding pic (it would make a spectacular CD cover), but what exactly is going on there? Some sort of artist's installation of starched fabric or all statuary figures?

Here is a link that might be useful: Calflora: S. pachyphylla observations

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 3:46PM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

Yes, calflora.org (*not* calflora.net) and the Consortium of California Herbaria, accessible at the UC/JEPS website, are my main sources for localities of Calif. native plants. My comments about S. clevelandii are based upon data found there.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 4:42PM
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Dicot, in Rhyolite there is what they call an open air museum with "art" from a couple of european artists including this modern take on Leonardo Divinci's Last Supper by Albert Szukalski. It was supposed to last two years but has been around more than twenty. It was a stormy the day when we took the pic which is why it is so ominous but that art in the middle of nowhere seems so odd but interesting.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 7:56AM
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CA Kate

I hunted all over for the newest HCG catalog.... nada; so I went online and placed my order for three S.pachyphylla --- and other things, of course. I think this is one more Salvia that might survive in my gardens without the need to baby it all the time. Thanks to all of you for the lead.

mohavemarie: those statues look most interesting and might make for a weekend destination.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 3:53PM
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