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Friday - July 04, 2008

From: Taylor, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Transplants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Mystic Spires salvia in transplant shock
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Hello. I live in Taylor, Tx. Just outside Austin, Texas. I recently planted mystic spires. One gallons and will receive the hot afternoon sun. All the research says they can tolerate this location. They have not lost their leaves, but are drooping pretty severely in the heat. Is this a result of planting in summer and that they are simply adjusting to their new home? Should I expect a more hardy appearance next year? Thank you so much.


In order to talk about "Mystic Spires", we first have to talk about "Indigo Spires",  Salvia longispicata x farninacea. The "x" means it is a cross between Salvia longispicata, a native of Mexico and Salvia farinacea (mealycup sage), a native of Texas and Mexico. This was developed 40 years ago, quite by accident, by bees cross-pollinating two species of sage in Huntingdon Botanical Gardens in California. See this Floridata website Salvia "Indigo Spires". The reason we have to look at "Mystic Spires" in this way is that it is apparently a dwarf selection of "Indigo Spires." A "selection" is not a new species, but the process of choosing and breeding plants that have a different height or some other desirable characteristic. The initial information on this cross is that it should grow about 12" to 18" high and thus eliminate the tendency of the taller "Indigo Spires" to droop over when it gets too tall.

Having said all that, let's try to figure out why your new plant is not doing well. The instructions in the various sites we looked at about "Indigo Spires" indicate that it needs some good humus in the soil, especially if it is clay. In fact, one of these plants in a poorly draining clay soil will probably not survive cold weather. But that should not be what is causing your current problem. It sounds like transplant shock. It's always tough for a plant to be moved into new quarters, and doing so in the heat of summer is even harder. So, first, trim off about 1/3 to 1/2 of the top of the plant (yes, even the flowers-they'll be back), and then give it a slow, gentle watering, maybe every couple of days until it settles in a little bit. These flowers have a long blooming season, so if you help it survive moving, it will probably provide you with blooms until frost. Mostly it just needs to be given a rest, and not be required to pump moisture all the way up to the tips of those flowers. Leave as many leaves as possible below your trim area, as they provide nutrition for the plant.


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