Growing Salvia Flowers
About Salvia: Cultivate Showy Blooms with Medicinal Properties
Salvia is the biggest genus of plants that belong to the mint family Lamiaceae. There are around 700-900 species made up of herbaceous perennials, annuals and shrubs. It is among several genera that are commonly known as sage.
The term salvia comes from the Latin word salvere which means “to save” that refers to the belief in the healing properties of herbs. The genus is distributed throughout Central America, South America, Central Asia and Eastern Asia.
Most varieties grow to around 1-3 feet tall but some varieties reach about 5 feet in height. There is a wide range of colors available depending on the particular variety. Salvia is commonly used for both dry and fresh bouquets. Some varieties are used for medicinal purposes.
The stems of salvia plants are commonly angled like other members of the Lamiceae family. The leaves are typically entire but can also be toothed or pinnately divided. The salvia flowers are produced in racemes/panicles producing a showy look.
Most salvia plants have trichomes (hairs) that grow in the stems, leaves and flowers. Trichomes are known to reduce water loss. In some varieties, the hairs are glandular and release oil giving the plant a distinct aroma.
If something comes into contact with the hairs, oil-bearing cells rupture thus releasing oil. This is very useful as a repellent to some insects and animals.
Salvia can be propagated by seed, cuttings or division. However, most gardeners usually propagate by division. Making cuttings is quite easy but requires some knowledge and experience regarding how to grow cuttings. The best way of making a cutting is by allowing a branch to root in water. Remember to use alcohol or any disinfectant to clean the scissor or knife that will be used for cutting.
The first step is to cut off a branch with leaves of between 3-8 inches around half an inch below a node. Remember to cut most of the large leaves and leave only some small leaves. Then, place the branch in a container filled with about 2 inches of water. Each branch should be placed in a separate container. To keep the humidity level high, place a clear glass jar or clear plastic bag over the plant. The container should be exposed to moderate sunlight. The water should be changed daily.
After about 2 weeks the roots will start to appear. When the roots reach a length of 0.6 to 1 inch, the cuttings are ready for planting. Remember that during the first weeks, the plants should be covered with a clear glass or plastic bag.
How to Grow Salvia Flowers
Salvia thrives in full sun. These plants prefer well-drained soil. For best results, add some general purpose fertilizer when planting and repeat application once a month thereafter. Remember to wait after the last frost date in your region before planting outdoors. Spacing should be around 10-20 inches apart depending on the particular specie. When established, these plants grow well even without much attention. The soil should be kept moist to slightly dry. Water the plants during dry periods or as needed. To keep the weeds down, remember to mulch around the plants.