Plant of the Month
Saliva splendens ‘Amore’ and ‘Sizzler’ series
AT A GLANCE
Latin name: Salvia splendens ‘Amore’ and ‘Sizzler’ series
Common name: Scarlet sage
Type: Spring and summer annual
Flowers: Multiple colors
Mature size: 12-14” high, 8-12” wide (‘Amore’); 12” high, 12” wide (‘Sizzler’)
Soil: Not picky
Exposure: Part sun to afternoon shade
Water usage: Moderate
Sources: Local nurseries and mail order
Spring is in the air, and we gardeners can’t wait for the weekend! We sharpen our clippers and grease our chainsaws to make room for new material and to tame some that has gotten out of hand. We cross our fingers and hope there won’t be another late freeze and an early summer. It is that time of year when it can be difficult to find annual color that will last for more than a few weeks of spring. This is the season that can last three weeks or eight weeks, depending on Mother Nature. The uncertainty is a struggle in our display gardens at the Dallas Arboretum, but in our Trials Program we have discovered two series of Salvia splendens that can jumpstart our spring and take some of our summer heat. These two varieties have been the very best at surviving our hot summers. (If allowed to dry out or placed in too much sun, however, they will most likely perish by July.)
When I hear Salvia, I tend to think of perennial woodies, but there is a large group of annual salvias that can add color to our annual displays. Salvia splendens has been around for ages and continues to get better over time. Salvia s. ‘Amore’ and ‘Sizzler’ series are two that have stood out in trials the last two seasons. ‘Amore’ is a taller series that can reach 14 inches in height. This series has colors that all gardeners can enjoy, from solid reds to purples, with bicolor bracts in yellow and white. ‘Sizzler’ is a slightly smaller series that reaches 12 inches tall and features amazing contrast in bicolor flowers that look more like silk flowers than real ones. There is a wide range of colors.
We have learned several things that help Salvia splendens last through mid-summer. Plant them in part sun to light shade (morning sun is ideal), water more as temperatures rise above 90 degrees, and cut back by half when blooms start to become sparse. Cutting back will flush new growth and allow the plants to take a break from blooming and put some effort back into the roots. After a few weeks, blooms will begin again.
Stop by your favorite local retailer and ask about Salvia splendens, or buy online. If you like to grow flowers from seed, you can find ‘Amore’ and ‘Sizzler’ seed online.
To keep up with material that thrives in the Dallas Arboretum Trials Program, check us out on FaceBook. Have fun and garden strong!
About the author: Jenny Wegley is the senior manager of trials and greenhouse at the Dallas Arboretum. Visit www.dallasplanttrials.org for more information on the Arboretum’s trials.