A flower in festive colour

 The Red Salvia.
The Red Salvia.

RED and green are traditionally the colours associated with Christmas and the Salvia Spendens provide both of these. The dwarf Red Salvia in small pots can be used as table decorations or as a gift.
Planting the regular-sized salvia in beds and then cutting them for vases would also work beautifully. It would be best to purchase seedlings for this exercise.
Seedlings generally have a few flowers on so as soon as they are planted you have instant colour. As they grow and fill out, more blooms are produced. Most bedding plants will give you a minimum of six months’ worth of flowers, with many that keep on producing for a whole year.

Pot displays, no matter how small, always require that the soil is well prepared, and good drainage is a prerequisite. Add a good general-purpose fertiliser to the soil before planting. Do not pull the seedlings out of the tray by their stem or leaves, as this will damage them. Rather push them out from below. Don’t bury the stems of the seedlings when planting, rather plant them to the depth that they are in the seedling tray.
After planting, water regularly until they are established, and even though salvias are not thirsty plants, if you potted them with one seedling per pot into small pots, they could dry out quickly and may need to be monitored more regularly.

The watering requirement for the smaller pots is especially true in light of the fact that salvia prefer direct sunlight which brings out their rich red colour.
They perform well in dappled shade too though, so if you’re not able to monitor the watering of the smaller pots as frequently as would be necessary in direct sun, rather play it safe under some cover.

A word of caution though, when shopping for your seedlings, be sure to make certain of the colour because even though Salvia Splendens is most commonly referred to as Red Salvias, they are actually available in a whole range of colours.
For more go to www.lifeisagarden. co.za
- Bedding Plant Growers’ Association.

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