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Over Wintering Salvia Amistad

I have two lovely Salvia Amistad in pots with no greenhouse or suitable indoor accommodation to avoid frost damage. I live in the South of England where frosts are likely if not imminent.
I had thought to mulch the top of the pots, the question is what do I use for this. I have some John Innes No 3 and some peat free compost, perhaps I could buy some Beech Bark if that would be more suitable, I had also considered wrapping the base areas of the plants with bubble wrap.
I have some fleece bags which I could place over the plants but as the plants are over 5ft high I would have to cut the plants back, in which case to what height should I cut them back.
I had also considered moving the pots so that they are alongside a wall which might give some protection.
One final point, having protected the plants in some way do I need to water at all during the winter.
Any advise or help would be much appreciated, apart from buying a greenhouse as I do not have the space, they have been so lovely I would hate to lose them.

Posts

  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,653
    I'm a good bit further north than you, and my Amistad have survived a couple of winters, some in (large) pots against the house wall under the eaves with no other special treatment, some cuttings in small pots in the cold frame (open except on the coldest nights) and some in the ground out in the open. The ones in the pots are now in the ground because they outgrew the pots and I have two Amante in their place.
    The top growth dies back when it turns cold, and they normally start growing from the base in around late April (last year was later because of the cold spring) and then I cut off the old stems.
    I don't water the potted ones from around now until they've started growing in the spring, and only then if the compost is dry down to a finger's depth (surface dryness isn't a good guide to what's going on below). They're more likely to survive freezing dry conditions than freezing when they're wet. The ones in the ground get whatever nature throws at them but I do have well-drained sandy soil, which is difficult in some respects but is beneficial for survival of things that aren't fully hardy.

  • CharlotteFCharlotteF East Surrey, UKPosts: 337
    I think your plan should work. I'd wait until the top growth has had a bit of frost (unlikely that the first one will be hard and if you do it sooner you're missing out on the late flowers!), then cut them back to 6inches or so. Re watering, assuming they're going into the winter moist I wouldn't water at all until spring.

    You could also take cuttings now to keep on a windowsill over winter. They root easily and will grow away fast next year if your plants outdoors don't make it through. 
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