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heather__michigan

Can I over-winter Black & Blue Salvia?

Heather__Michigan
14 years ago

My Hummers LOVED the Black & Blue more than any other flower, And even more than their feeders!! It is not hardy here in MI, The tag says hardy to Z. 7,

I wonder,.. Can I dig it up and put it in my basement like we do with Cannas? Or Is it the type of plant that needs to be green year round. I know I don't have much time to decide up here in MI, I'm surprised it is still green!!

Thanks for reading, And any and All advice,

Heath

Comments (34)

  • crazee4flowers
    14 years ago

    Hi Heath, you could try it, it did not work for me. One year I had a b&b planted in the ground, and I covered it with a rose cone cover over winter. It survived, while the b&b's not covered died. I had tried overwintering one in the basement, however, it dried out and died. If you have 2 b&b's, try testing 2 methods to see which one works for you. It's worth a try, and if you succeed, it's always such a nice accomplishment.

  • mindysuewho
    14 years ago

    Last year I had three black and blue salvia in South Jersey and they overwintered. I think it may have just been a fluke. So this year I took cuttings. This was my first attempt at taking cuttings. Most of them are doing well and one even has a bloom. They must be super easy if I did it on my first try. I'm hoping to keep them in the house and plant out in the spring.

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  • hummersteve
    14 years ago

    What do you have to lose? In my zone 6 climate I have only had one black and blue come back and it was last year. Since you are even colder me , its worth a shot. On the other side of the coin I will say that some people give up on them too soon as even though the plant might look dead , they may have runners survive undeground and sprout if you wait long enough. They are a late spring greener. I have also taken some blue ensign cuttings as I like them even better than black and blue.

    There is also another plan of attack, per overwintering. After the garden goes dormant cut the plants down to a couple of inches above the crown then cover with bags of leaves and then cover with plastic sheeting, bisqueen, etc. This is something I read about and will try on my main garden as an experiment and the answer will come about next may.

  • bdriver71
    14 years ago

    This year all my B&B salvia came back that were planted on the South side of my house, close to the house. Strangely, 2 lady in reds just sprouted a few weeks ago on the East side and began blooming. This will be my first year to try to save them. I'm super mulching the South side. Bringing a couple in, in pots, plus taking some cuttings.
    First try at Cannas too. Some are in a pot in the dining room and the rest in a box in the basement. I'd try some with
    all the methods suggested. Kind of fun too, wondering what the outcome will be in spring.

  • hawkeye_wx
    14 years ago

    Steve, I hope you have good success with the heavy mulch/plastic experiment. Next year I will have a bunch of annuals I'll likely want to overwinter(B&B, David Verity, etc) and I don't have a sunroom, attached garage, or enclosed porch to store plants in.

  • hawkeye_wx
    14 years ago

    Steve, what plants in your main garden will you be attempting to save with your experiment?

  • hummersteve
    14 years ago

    hawkeye

    My main reason for the experiment is for black and blue, blue ensign, coccinea lady in red etc. I also have agastache rupistris and penstemon and tutti frutti in the patch. I took some blue ensign cuttings and tutti frutti but I can tell already they wont make it. But the cuphea david verity cuttings are doing great.

  • penny1947
    14 years ago

    hawkeye
    The main thing for the salvias like black & blue is well draining soil. You can mulch until the cows come home but if the soil stays wet during the winter especially those plants are less likely to survive. Cupheas on the other hand need moisture but can't take the cold. I don't have an attached garage, sun room or basement and very few windows that allow enough light to overwinter sun lovers but my cupheas have to come in for the winter. It is too tropical to survive the cold. The cupheas are best to do cuttings while they are still actively growing and blooming which will do well even in lower light conditions inside. My tropicals are all in my kitchen in front of the west facing french doors that lead out to the deck. During the winter they get light but very little bright sunlight until later in the winter and only afternoon sunlight. Once the temps stay abouve freezing here I move them out to my front porch which faces south and leave them there until it warms up enough to put them out.

    If you have a basement, you can cut the plants way back and put them into a black plastic trash back and seal it up and put them in the basement for the winter. Sealing the back will keep enough moisture in the bag for them to survive. Then as the days start to warm up you can bring them out of dormancy.

    Penny

  • hummersteve
    14 years ago

    The DV cuttings that I have going are inside under shop lights. The 4ft double bulb with wide flare shields are what I use. I dont have a lot of cuttings so it works for me. I guess you learn from year to year while these are growing how to deal with them.

  • bella_trix
    14 years ago

    Hi Heath - I successfully overwintered Black and Blue last year in the ground by piling a few feet of shreaded leaves on top. I also have a quick and space-saving way of bringing them in for the winter. I posted it on the salvia forum and have included a link below. I've used this method for two years and it works great.

    Bellatrix

    Here is a link that might be useful: How to overwinter black and blue salvia

  • stevec_2007
    14 years ago

    Hummersteve,

    Is your Blue Ensign a Pulmonaria? According to

    http://www.perennials.com/seeplant.html?item=1.449.060

    that plant is hardy to Zone 2

  • hawkeye_wx
    14 years ago

    Hummersteve is referring to salvia guaranitica "blue ensign". It is basically green and blue rather than black and blue.

  • hummersteve
    14 years ago

    stevec

    Yes hawkeye is correct I was referring to guaranitica blue ensign. What I like about it is it grows even taller than black and blue easily 4ft plus. It usually is a later bloomer as it has to get its growth first, but the hummers seem to like those tall blooms. The only thing I grow that is taller is the tutti frutti that goes 5ft and the hummers love those too.

  • hawkeye_wx
    14 years ago

    hummersteve, where did you get the blue ensign? Kathi in Madison also really likes her guaranitica brazilian blue, which is pretty much the same thing. If I can find a green and blue next spring I may try one.

  • penny1947
    14 years ago

    Hawkeye,
    Steve got his Salvia g. Blue Ensign from Rich Dufresnes at A World of Salvias. Rich is a plant breeder who specializes in Salvias (Link below).

    Penny

    Here is a link that might be useful: A World of Salvias list of salvias

  • penny1947
    14 years ago

    Bella trix,
    I like your method of overwintering your B&B. Definitely takes up much less space.

    Penny

  • hummersteve
    14 years ago

    hawkeye

    Penny is correct I got the blue ensign from "world of salvias" Since the interest seems to be there hope you dont mind me popping a few pics for comparison. Also be aware the rich blue is strongest early on , as the flower starts to fade it becomes less blue. Maybe this will help you and others make your decision.

    here you can see a hummer working it over
    {{gwi:991144}}

    in the background you can see the smaller black and blue

    here you can see it battling it out with tutti frutti for space both easily topping 4ft, I cannot guarantee yours to grow as big depending on soils etc.
    {{gwi:991145}}

  • hummersteve
    14 years ago

    hawkeye

    Correct on all counts along with several different kinds of coccinea, rupistris, penstemons and others

  • hawkeye_wx
    14 years ago

    I just realized I have an old 4 ft long double bulb fluorescent light above my little-used workbench in the basement. The bulbs are Sylvania F40CW/RS/SS, whatever the heck that means. Can I keep plants going over winter and also grow lady in red from seed next spring by setting them under this light?

  • penny1947
    14 years ago

    Hawkeye,
    You should be able to. A lot of people just use standard flourescent bulbs rather than actual grow lights and they work just fine. You may have to adjust the height of the lights in relationship to the plants but it will work. I don't use light at this point but I am sure someone here can give you the right info. There is also a Growing under Lights Forum where you can get some sound advice.

    Penny

    Here is a link that might be useful: Growing Under Lights

  • hummersteve
    14 years ago

    hawkeye

    When I first started using the shoplights I bought one grow light bulb 2 or 3 yrs ago or longer, anyway Im still using that bulb but I cant really say its any more of a benefit than a regular bulb and it costs twice as much. It may be more for cuttings than seed germination. Any seeds that I try I usually start in late feb/early march. Right now a shoplight setup in my entry hallway [no gro-lite] for my cuphea cuttings which are still quite small. I also have one setup in a large walkin closet which I use to root cuttings and seeds, but you can do it in a basement or a garage just as well , I would think. In rooting cuttings 12-16hrs a day is good. But germination of seeds you can go 24/7 till they germ.

  • hawkeye_wx
    14 years ago

    I wonder if having shop lights on for several months would even be worth it, cost-wise, compared with just buying a handful of new plants in late spring.

  • hummersteve
    14 years ago

    hawkeye

    My guess is if you leave the kitchen light on for 20min it would use more kilowatts than the shoplight for 24hrs. But its a matter of personal preference as far as growing cuttings or seedlings, either you enjoy it or you dont. I would say if you dont get any personal satisfaction from it then dont bother.

  • hawkeye_wx
    14 years ago

    I do like growing flowers from seeds. I even did a lady in red test-run late this season. I planted a few seeds on July 20th(under a small fluorescent light above my kitchen counter) and wanted to see how fast they grew so I'd know how early I can get them started next spring. I got a couple of them into the ground in two months and they were about to bloom when the awful, cold October weather shut everything down. I'm currently thinking I'll have about ten plants that need to be growing inside under lights by early spring. I still have plenty of time to worry about keeping plants alive next winter.

  • nckvilledudes
    14 years ago

    Salvia black and blue can easily be wintered over in the colder zones by digging the clump up (you will see tubers or rhizomes in the root mass) and potting it up in a pot. Keep it in an area that stays above freezing but still cold like an unheated garage or even crawl space if you have one. Water only when the soil dries out. Bring it out the following spring once the last frost chance has passed and plant it outside. I have had friends in Michigan use this technique for several years to keep salvia Black and Blue alive for them.

  • Heather__Michigan
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    Thanks everyone for your input! I have really learned a lot, I think I'm going to try exactly what nckvilledudes suggests and put my potted B@B in my cold basement. Maybe I can even split it up??? I look foward to success either way. I'll just have to remember to water now and then to keep it alive.

    Thanks again.
    Heth

  • hummersteve
    13 years ago

    Heather

    I hope your plant did well in the basement. I dug up a rather large black and blue and put in the only available pot 12" I had. I covered it with a black bag and put it in my garage. I cut the stems way down to where it would all go inside the the black bag. I also am able to keep my garage in the 40s with an inwall heater but Im not sure that was necessary for it to survive which it did. I have left that plant in the same 12" pot all summer and it flowered mightily. I will do this again with it will put it in a larger pot. Thank you very much says the b & b.

    Also for those that dont know Im happy to report on my experiment of covering my entire garden with plastic and bagged mulch worked better than I hoped. It worked with 100% return on every single plant covered. As a note I had not had my agastache tutti frutti return in my zone 6 before I did this. I cut all the plants down to just a few inches above the crown so I could cover with the plastic. It is important to seal the edges as best you can with rocks, sheperds hooks , etc. Also it is important : before you cover make sure dormancy has started, that temps are consistantly in the 40s and lower. Higher than that and plants may try to grow again and this is not what you want.

    Steve

  • christie_sw_mo
    13 years ago

    Thanks for the report Steve. Putting plastic over the area would help keep it dry. I've tried a few different agastaches and none have made it through more than one winter. Next time I'll try your method. When did you uncover everthing in the spring? Did you wait until danger of frost was over?
    I have Black and Blues that have made it through two winters now in the ground. I mulched them with straw. I had mixed luck with the ones I put in my garage. I may have let them get too dry but at least some of them lived.

  • hummersteve
    13 years ago

    Hi Christie

    Yes I waited till last danger of frost in the spring although as you might suspect I did take a peek and one thing about using visqueen as I did you can see thru it and things that start to green. My large bed is about 10x25' and I shall cover it again. Of note I would like to say that agastache rupestris and A. cana have come back for about 4yrs in a row now with no protection at all.

    I also would like to bragg a bit on my salvia darcyi as I planted it first time this year and it is quite huge and still flowering like mad. It is now a healthy 6x6 beauty. I hope you dont mind me throwing in a couple shots of this monster.

  • christie_sw_mo
    13 years ago

    Thanks Steve.
    Your darcyi is doing well in that spot.

  • zone6newbie
    13 years ago

    Greetings!

    Wow -- some there's so much great info here -- but I still have a few questions -- any guidance would be greatly appreciated!

    1) KEEPING IT IN THE HOUSE: If I bring my potted b&b salvia into the house -- should I leave it in a sunny room? Is it okay for it to be in a heated house all winter? Does it need a special grow light? Should it be watered?

    2) KEEPING IT IN THE GARAGE/BASEMENT: If I go with this approach, does it require a dormancy period -- should I put it in the dark/cold windowless basement - (or unheated garage) and not water it at all? Or just water it periodically so it doesn't dry out completely?

    3) Do I need to cut down/cut back the green stems or can I just leave it "as is?"

    Thanks in advance!

  • hummersteve
    13 years ago

    I cant answer your question about bringing your b and b into a heated house for the winter I have not done that.

    But if you have a cold basement say in the 50s that would be perfect.

    What I did with mine was cut the plant down to where it would go inside a closed black bag for dormancy. But first I did water the soil so that its moist but not soggy. My thoughts are that if its not getting light it wont try to grow or green up even if it does warm up some.

    Others might have a different method but that worked for me.

  • hummersteve
    13 years ago

    Heather

    Another option is to black bag it as I did successfully in 2010. I dug up[black and blue] potted watered drained then cut the plant down to fit inside a large black bag and kept this in my garage for the winter. Sucess, yes I had a nice flowering plant for the hummers to use. I did have the advantage if it is so of keeping the garage at about 40ð by way of inwall heater. I dont think this is necessary though for this bagging method to work.

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