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Monday - June 06, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens
Title: Cedar sage in container in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Re: cedar sage purchased at your 04/11 plant sale: it sets flower spikes but no red blossoms appear, only calyxes. It's in terracotta pot w/Ladybug soil, shady apartment patio. Soil too rich? Too much water? Not enough light? Please help me help it bloom. Thank you.

ANSWER:

It just so happens that this particular member of the Mr. Smarty Plants team also purchased Salvia roemeriana (Cedar sage) at the Spring Sale, while I was working at the Sale. And, mine is also in a porch garden which gets sun in mid-afternoon until dark. I have been getting lovely pink blooms in the bracts that will become seed carriers, but after all, for both of us, this is the first year out of the nursery. My blooms are tiny and don't last very long, but I have several plants and they are on shelves at eye level where I can really enjoy their delicate rose blossoms. Many perennials don't bloom at all until their second season. Cedar sage is called that because, as noted below, it grows under Juniperus ashei (Ashe juniper) which Texans call "cedar."

From our Native Plant Database on this plant:

"One of several plants that have evolved to grow in the shade and leaf mulch of junipers, Salvia roemeriana makes a fine plant for the well-drained shade garden. Its scalloped, rounded leaves and crimson blooms are as eye-catching in pots as they are against the limestone outcrops of its native habitat."

"Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Its crimson blooms appear in early spring, are profuse for a couple of months, and then continue sporadically through summer."

We both got our plants in mid-April, and the early blooms, if the plant was old enough to have any, had already gone.  We may both be over-coddling our plants with enriched potting soil, but duplication of the fine mulch of juniper needles on the ground would be very difficult for the container gardener. This plant, while native to this area, is somewhat out of its native habitat growing in our civilized "concrete gardens." I suggest we both be patient for a year. I rather like its round, scalloped leaves and, since it is a member of the Lamiaceae or mint family, its faint but pleasant fragrance.

Prescription for both of us: Patience.

 

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