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A tale of two Salvias ;)

DaveKearleyDaveKearley East Hertfordshire, UKPosts: 82
edited October 2021 in Problem solving
Both bought at same time, same shop, about 6m old.

They were doing great in the summer, both had lots of flower, the bees love them.

Then in late summer one started struggling while the other seems fine.

Any ideas???


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  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,198
    It's surprising how just a few feet of difference in position can have an impact. The 2nd one certainly looks as if it has a bit of pest/insect damage.
    There's also a problem with many plants nowadays, because they're planted in what we all call teabags. Plants which are started off as seed or cutting are stuck into these little bags, and the idea is that the roots grow out through the bag. It works sometimes, but when it doesn't, plants just fail because the roots get stuck. 

    That could be a reason, although the 2nd plant still looks as if it's grown well enough. It might just be in a less suitable patch of soil, or an area where water gathers. Salvias won't care for that  :)

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • DaveKearleyDaveKearley East Hertfordshire, UKPosts: 82
    Fairygirl said:
    It's surprising how just a few feet of difference in position can have an impact. The 2nd one certainly looks as if it has a bit of pest/insect damage.
    There's also a problem with many plants nowadays, because they're planted in what we all call teabags. Plants which are started off as seed or cutting are stuck into these little bags, and the idea is that the roots grow out through the bag. It works sometimes, but when it doesn't, plants just fail because the roots get stuck. 

    That could be a reason, although the 2nd plant still looks as if it's grown well enough. It might just be in a less suitable patch of soil, or an area where water gathers. Salvias won't care for that  :)

    That could be a thing - I'm new to gardening and when i built this monster planter I filled it with what i was told to be very good material, now I'm not so sure. It had a very high compost ratio - it was literally steaming when i was shovelling it from the jumbo sacks to the planter. It has been topped off with some standard potting material to cover for sinkage/compression over the months but it is extremely slow draining, pretty much constantly damp.

    There is a 4" layer of large gravel at the base, 250kg of it, topped with 1700kg of supposedly "Premium" topsoil, but I think they sent "Enriched" instead.



    No idea what I can do about that now, seems most plants are pretty happy, we did lose 5 plants that bloomed well then seem to rot away, they were all Calceolaria, pinks and yellows.

    If its pest then I'll need help I think :( 

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,198
    Ah - it may be the soil mix then unfortunately. Salvias like sharp drainage. It's often recommended to have layers of gravel at the base of raised beds, but that can become a sump in wet conditions, and roots end up sitting in water. It's probably not the case for your plants, unless they're sizeable enough to reach the base. 
    It might be worth lifting that one [or even both] and potting them just now. You can make up a nice gritty mix for them, and they'll be happier over winter. You can get bags of grit at GCs or DIY stores, or online. Salvias also like quite poor soil, so it might just be a combination of factors. I'd think the Calceolarias could well have struggled with the conditions too, but most are annuals anyway, as far as I know, so they wouldn't necessarily have survived.


    I can't tell how deep your beds are, but the levels will always settle over time, so they need topping up regularly. It could be worth mixing everything up a bit with a fork, but if there's lots of planting in there, that would be impossible. A  good way of improving the soil is adding spent compost if you have any, or home made compost,  although I'm guessing you may not have that. They both help with the soil structure, and make it more friable and freer draining. Well rotted manure also does that, but it would all be too rich for the salvias just now. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • floraliesfloralies Haute-Garonne SW FrancePosts: 1,975
    I would agree with @Fairygirl, most Salvias don't like sitting in damp soil that is not well drained. they look like Greggii/Macrophylla types do you know which ones? 
  • DaveKearleyDaveKearley East Hertfordshire, UKPosts: 82
    Here we go, its a bit of a mix :) Most things seem fairly happy, the Cordyline has gone crazy since this pic - i'm told thats normal. You can just see one of the Calceolaria yellows here.

    I do dig over the topsoil with a small fork every fee weeks to keep it tidy. There are a little over 16" of soil above the gravel, the base is open so it should never flood inside.


  • DaveKearleyDaveKearley East Hertfordshire, UKPosts: 82
    floralies said:
    I would agree with @Fairygirl, most Salvias don't like sitting in damp soil that is not well drained. they look like Greggii/Macrophylla types do you know which ones? 
    Label says "Salvia nemerosa Salute 'Light Pink' "
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,198
    edited October 2021
    Where is the Cordyline? 
    If that Heuchera is happy, the Salvias are less likely to be happy   :)

    The soil level is also very low, which might cause problems if you want to add soil/compost etc, because the plants are also lower. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • DaveKearleyDaveKearley East Hertfordshire, UKPosts: 82
    Fairygirl said:
    Where is the Cordyline? 
    If that Heuchera is happy, the Salvias are less likely to be happy   :)
    My mistake - its a Cortaderia :) 

    The Heuchera's are "Indian Summer" and do seem to be OK albeit both bought at same time and both different plants! Totally different leaves, one sprouts the tall thin stems and the other does not :smile:
  • DaveKearleyDaveKearley East Hertfordshire, UKPosts: 82
    Fairygirl said:

    The soil level is also very low, which might cause problems if you want to add soil/compost etc, because the plants are also lower. 
    Thats ok - its where I designed it to be, about 3" below the top seat area
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,198
    Heucheras like damper soil - so that was what I meant. The opposite of the Salvias. 
    The tall stems on a heuchera are the flowering stems. When plants are immature, they don't always flower right away. They'll be fine next year    :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


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