Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Second Chances

It was the tall, deep purple spikes that first attracted me. I pegged it as the perfect plant to have in a container because its upright growth makes for great vertical interest in a pot, adding wonderful depth and dimension. Not to mention that purple is one of the easiest colors to coordinate in a mixed planting. But I have to admit, the first season I planted Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna', I was a little bit disappointed. It bloomed early in the summer and after that, I was left with dried stems that provided a depressing backdrop for the remainder of the plants in my container. Here's what I didn't know: with a mere snip of the scissors, I had the power to bring about new life.

It's pretty simple: just take each spent bloom and trim the stem down to the next node where you see two offshoots. Within a few weeks, you will once again have fresh new stems with blooms ready to open. This technique is called 'deadheading' and many a perennial and annual will respond in a similar fashion.
This particular salvia is a perennial, hardy to zone 5. And it grows like nobody's business, multiplying in size year after year. In fact, this fall will be the first year that I divide it after having had it in the same galvanized tub for three years and I fully expect to have to take a hacksaw to it to break it apart. The good news is, I'll have at least five new plants as a result of that effort. Maybe I'll share.

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