Friday, April 13, 2012

New (old) plant: Salvia elegans

We've been without a pineapple sage here since last fall, when my only surviving plant fell to a surprise frost before I could try to get cuttings to overwinter. There had been backup plants, of course, but those all pooped out because of drought or spider mites (or both), so when the one outside died, that was my whole stock.

Naturally I questioned whether or not I wanted to try to get another one. I mean, it had been a plant I liked, before all the unpleasantness, but nobody else seems as interested in it as I am, the mite thing was really annoying, and it grows a little too fast to keep up with effectively, so I wasn't going to.

But you know how it is. You run into one another again, exchange pleasantries, start feeling those feelings again, and before you know it you're going home together. (Also some money changed hands, which kinda ruins the metaphor, but whatever.)


Ivynettle said...

My plant isn't looking too happy (aphids and spider mites for most of the winter...) - but it's blooming.

Susan Stjohn said...

Pineapple sage was pretty much my most spectacular failure of a plant ever for me, but somehow I blame Home Depot for that. It gradually lost the pretty green-ness and smell, and got crispier and crispier. There weren't any visible bugs and I tried moving it to different parts of my west-facing balcony. It seemed to have enough water but not too much, it was in fairly well-draining soil, but it just collapsed within a few weeks of getting it. It was particularly frustrating for someone who fancies herself to be a Lamiaceae whisperer.

mr_subjunctive said...

Susan Stjohn:

If it's gotten dry enough just one time, it won't come back. "Crispier and crispier" makes me think maybe it was rootbound: the root systems are huge, and grow very fast, so it can happen quickly. I bought one this year in May, and it was rootbound by early July.

Blaming Home Depot is always a good option too, of course. Even if they didn't screw up this particular thing, they've screwed up so many other things that they surely know they deserve it.

If you try the plant again, grow it indoors for a few weeks right after you get it, long enough for it to produce some spindly, weak growth, and then water-root some cuttings off of that and keep them inside. That way you'll have spares, if the original starts to fall apart. (Taking cuttings from strong, healthy growth seems like it would be a good idea, but they tend to go black and die before any roots form, as I hope I mentioned in the plant profile.)

This philosophy can be taken too far -- I have an original and twenty spares at the moment. But I really want to be sure I've got one, and I've had them fall apart pretty rapidly on me, too.