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Salvia penstemonoides from seed

Arlington, TX

Anyone have experience growing this Salvia from seed? I ordered see but the directions are all the same for every wild flower I ordered. Fall or spring? Can I do it in a pot and if so will they need protection (brought indoors) during very cold weather? Any help would be appreciated.
Cheryl

Lizella, GA(Zone 8a)

Hi,

I grew mine from seed, but I can't really remember when I planted them. I think the key is to NOT overwater them... They were in a planter with only rain for watering.
I do know that they were outdoors last winter and we had a very cold winter.
I will be interested to see other comments on this one.
Elaine

London, United Kingdom

In the UK this is not an easy Salvia to grow. It seems to require more sun and less rain than is the norm here. 4 years ago, when we had a relatively hot and dry summer, it thrived and bloomed very well, quite beautiful. Since then, little success with it. It is supposed to be quite hardy, but unless it is in extremely well-drained soil, it won't survive in winter. Keeping it in a pot under glass in winter helped it to survive, but it hated any humidity. Good luck with this, it is very rare, and worth the effort! I once saw a several-year old specimen in California which had been neglected, and it was thriving with many flowers.

Arlington, TX

It is endemic to TX where I live so climate is not an issue. All I need to do is provide it with more water than my area normally gets. I have one plant but there is not a source for a plant, only seeds and I want a few more. I was wondering if anyone had an experience with starting them from seed.
C

GA, GA(Zone 7b)

Hi Cheryl,

Not an expert on this one by any means, but I germinated Salvia penstemonoides a few years ago the same way that I do most salvia seeds. It may be a little more labor intensive but I usually only have a few seeds of each and I get 90-100% germination this way.

1: I soak the seeds overnight in warm water (the mucilaginous coating will swell up and make them gooey) I find that pre-soaking helps me get faster, even germination.

2: Then I surface sow on a good soiless potting mix that's been sterilized and pre-moistened (either several in a 4 inch pot or 1 each in cells.)

3: Then I sprinkle a very thin layer of fine vermiculite on top and mist.

4: Cover with humidity dome and place under fluorescent lights. For 4 inch pots I use a sandwich baggie as a humidity dome. As soon as they germinate this comes off.

I don't remember the details of their germination but I think it was pretty easy. They made a basal rosette the first year and they bloomed for me the second year from seed.

Unfortunately, they didn't like the combination of the soil where they were planted and the really wet winter and they died this year. At least I did get to see them bloom last year and gathered a few seeds so I can try again in better draining soil.

Hope that helps some! :)
Danita

Arlington, TX

Yes it does and thanks.
Cheryl

Lizella, GA(Zone 8a)

Good info,
Hi Danita. My little cuttings are thriving. Going to repot them in the morning. I think I will dig my penst. out of the planter and put them in a bigger pot... with very good draining soil... maybe lots of perlite and even some pea gravel mixed in the soil. That's how mine grew. From small rosettes and then they started to bloom the next year.

Arlington, TX

I have one plant and want more. I planted in a bed last fall and it did great this year. I am not so certain this salvia needs dryness. They seem to like a bit of moisture.
C

Lincoln, NE(Zone 5b)

Here's a thread I started about this Salvia...showing with pics my luck growing it from seed :)
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/985731/

Arlington, TX

I have had 0 success with seeds (no idea why). How about from cuttings? I tried several and so far all have rotted.
C

Candor, NC

Rooted cuttings of S. penstemonoides are possible, but are difficult. Once you get robust seedlings, I'd plant hem in lime rich soil with a lot of drainage. Tony Avent has one on a bank that has lived for about ten years at Plant Delights in Raleigh, NC.

It grows in flood plains of creeks in Texas hill country caliche (limestone soil), and has proved to be not as rare as once thought. I went looking for it with a friend near his home in Boerne, TX, along Cibolo Creek, and we both probably walked right over it.

College Station, TX(Zone 8b)

It must be possible from seed. I am not much of a gardener and certainly have not had much luck sowing seed myself, but S penstemonoides has reseeded itself for me in my garden. I got my first plant three years ago and it didn't do much for a year or so...then I got a few blooms the second spring. This year the mother plant was really nice, but I also had some new baby plants in the same area. I usually let my blooms stay on the plant until early winter, so I assume the seeds just layed there waiting until spring to sprout since I didn't see them during my late winter cleanup. The area is in partial shade and is on a drip irrigation system, though I don't water but a couple of times a week in the heat of the summer since most of the plants are xeric.So I know the area doesn't stay moist constantly, though our winters are relatively mild and a little wet.maybe this info will help you decide how to get these beauties to sprout.
My question now is can I transplant them easily?

Arlington, TX

The seeds are very small and from what I have been told difficult to collect before they fall off. I transplanted mine last fall and it did fine so I think the seedlings would do ok in very early spring. If we have a colder than normal winter they might not make it.
C

Candor, NC

If you are in at least USDA Zone 7a, they should be hardy.

Arlington, TX

I would wait until spring to move the seedlings just to be on the safe side.

College Station, TX(Zone 8b)

I need to thin out that area this fall. Thin and transplant iris etc so I'm going to give it a try with the smaller S Penst.. Then I'll look really closely early this spring and see if I have any new smaller babies to transplant too. I wasn't sure if they had a taproot or not that I needed to be extra careful with..

Arlington, TX

I don't think they do and my adult plant didn't suffer from being moved.

Candor, NC

The smaller plants will definitely transplant better. The larger ones probably have deep trunk roots, with the fine roots that actually do the work much further away. Tap rooted plants are similar, which is why they are hard to move. Don't forget that S. penstemonoides is adapted to hard caliche soils in creek flood plains.. The growth of the seedlings is probably environmentally timed to vernal flooding and/or the rainy seasons.

College Station, TX(Zone 8b)

It's so hot right now I can't do much of anything except look around to see which might be good to try later...I don't have any expectations the larger ones will make it, so if any do it will be a bonus.I might move them at different times from Oct to Jan to see if that helps survival.

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