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Are some salvias more tolerant of soggy winters?

Posted by christie_sw_mo Z6 (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 8, 08 at 10:23

I have no trouble finding dry soil in the summertime but our winters can be a little snowy/rainy. It's different every year of course but we rarely have a long-lasting snow cover because the really cold temps don't stay around for more than a couple days usually.

I'm in zone six but our summers are hot and dry so I love growing salvias. I'm still unsure whether cold or moisture is my biggest enemy in the winter. Maybe it's a combination of both.

I'm mostly interested in salvias that Ruby Throat hummingbirds find attractive. I've been growing salvia guaranitica for several years so I want to try Van Remsen. Any other suggestions? I don't mind the risk if it's iffy in my zone. That's part of the fun. : )

Salvia Darcyi has been doing well for me so far and I've had mixed luck with greggi cultivars. I'll know in just a few weeks who survived this winter.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Are some salvias more tolerant of soggy winters?

Can you build raised beds with either sandy loam or sand? These work pretty well in North Carolina with our red clay soils. The beds should be around 10 to 16 inches high. French drains (small ditches filled with very coarse gravel) are also good for carrying excess moisture away.

Van Remsen does not form many tubers and has no stolons (runners). I'd mulch this one in zone 6 with around 6 inches of hardwood bark mulch for the coldest parts of winter.

RE: Are some salvias more tolerant of soggy winters?

  • Posted by dicot Los Angeles (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 8, 08 at 16:36

Salvia elegans is my most popular plant with our ruby-throated hummingbirds, but I'm not sure how it will do in the cold, as it is a Fall bloomer. I've had many, many drainage problems with other sages, but it's never been an issue with the S. elegans. The same could be said for my S. leucantha, which the hummers like too.

RE: Are some salvias more tolerant of soggy winters?

Rich - I wanted to build a raised bed but couldn't decide where, then lost a silver maple in our ice storm last year so now my backyard is much sunnier and I've been studying that spot for a hummingbird garden. The salvias I have so far are interspersed along the outside edges of a mixed shrub row I planted a few years ago. I didn't do much amending when I planted them. If I have some luck growing salvias from seed this year and if last years plants return, I might have enough to start that new bed. I had divided my salvia guaranitica a few times and was planning on having lots of that to use but only had one little clump left after our horrible winter and late hard freeze in the spring last year. : (

I try to use plants that naturally do well in our poor soil rather than amend for picky plants. For the most part, salvias do GREAT here without a lot of care. That's one of the reasons why I like them. The ones I grow that are hardier like May Night are tough as nails in my unamended soil but I can't resist the ones that say zone 7 on the description. : )

Dicot - I should give salvia elegans another try. I only grew it once and while it was impressive how huge it got over the summer, I nearly went insane waiting for it to bloom. My hummingbirds were packing their bags when the flowers finally started opening. It sure was pretty though.

RE: Are some salvias more tolerant of soggy winters?

dicot: You have Anna's Hummingbirds, not Ruby-throated.

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