Crop Culture Report: Salvia Ablazin’ Series By Rick Schoellhorn


Abalzin’ salvia is currently offered in two colors: Tabasco and Purple.

Salvia is one of the most traditional consumer gardening flowers, combining easy care and a long season of color with a host of other great traits. At one point salvia was one of the top-selling annuals on the market, but the selection of seed produced types were so compact consumers did not think they performed well and their popularity slid a bit in the last decade. Old seed types also had a tendency to hold onto to their dead flowers and require shearing to look good in the landscape, and over the past ten to fifteen years that need for additional maintenance also reduced the use of salvia in commercial landscapes. So as with many crops, we see the cycle turning and new breeding now providing larger salvia varieties that have more consumer friendly habits with self-cleaning plants that do not require deadheading in the landscape.

The new Ablazin' salvia from Proven Winners combines both of these improvements into one collection. Strong, medium height plants with thick foliage and large flowers provide spring through fall interest and are simple to produce for the grower.

Available Colors

'Ablazin' Tabasco' Ð has a vivid red bloom on an 18- to 26-inch plant. Tabasco blooms in spring and continues to rebloom throughout the summer and into fall. These are exceptional landscape plants with tolerance of part shade conditions, but best flowering is definitely in full sun.

'Ablazin' Purple' Ð a rich royal purple flower spike on top of dark green foliage. Plants are 18 to 26 inches in the landscape and large containers.

Retailer Benefits

• An easy choice for novice gardeners

• Long-lasting intensely colored flowers

• Like all salvia, Ablazin' varieties are somewhat deer resistant, which can be a good aspect to promote at retail

• Works in the sun or light shade

• Hummingbird and butterfly attractant for marketing with other nature attracting plants

• Great retail shelf life

Background and Culture

Salvia splendens are originally from Brazil, growing at latitudes that remained warm year round and had high humidity. For the grower it is important to remember that warm production temperatures are still a key to fast, high quality growth. The original species was a scrambling plant sometimes reaching 10 to 15 feet in height and rooting wherever stems touched the ground. Luckily, plant breeders have tamed that wild habit and are bringing much more polite plants to market these days. You can still find some of the older forms of Salvia splendens in the trade; cultivars like 'Van Houttei', 'Paul's Purple', and 'Faye Chappell' are 3 to 5 feet tall at maturity and though there can be problems controlling in production, they still perform fairly well in the landscape.

The Ablazin' collection is a bit of both worlds, in that they have the vigor to grow well in the landscape, but retain their foliage throughout the season and are easier in production than the older forms are. The Ablazin' are medium height and vigor so plants are flowering at retail when still small enough to be easily shipped/or displayed on racks, yet more vigorously branching and re-flowering than older pack type breeding and self-cleaning, so old flowers do not remain on the plants. They are exceptionally heat and humidity tolerant, making them a great crop to continue in production even into summer's higher temperatures. The Ablazin' make a great thriller in mixed containers and 14-inch patio pots, their upright habit works well with trailing petunias and other medium vigor mounding plants.

Production of Ablazin' salvia is extremely easy; they tolerate a fairly wide range of pH and soil types. Generally any standard bedding plant production methods will work very well. Since most growers of retail product are forced to begin growing long before optimal conditions catch up in spring, height control is commonly a problem with salvia because they grow quickly. So some key points to height control are:

• High light levels are essential; they not only give a more compact plant but also speed flowering

• Fertility is the key to dark green foliage, so don't try to control height in this crop by reducing feed. Hungry crops tend to drop lower leaves and foliage begins to yellow, so keep your fertility levels fairly high

• Irrigation should keep plants lightly moist at all times. Another common height control method of reducing water will not work with salvia as dry downs may cause lower foliage to drop

• Shifting to cooler production temperatures after plants have rooted in can be a simple way to control height in salvia, and night temperature around 50¡ F and daytime temperatures below 65¡ F will keep plants more compact

• Height control using plant growth regulators like daminozide, uniconazole, flurprimidol or paclobutrazol is also effective, just follow label directions. If plants are to be held for long periods of time repeat applications may be necessary.

For growers and retailers alike, the Salvia splendens group makes for dramatic plants with bright colored blooms and big consumer appeal. The Ablazin' collection combines the ease of culture and vigor of the original species with the improved branching and retail shelf life of the bedding plant types. Performance and ease of culture are definitely bringing salvia back into the retail market place with improved forms and consumer demand for simplified success.

Production guidelines

pH: (5.5 – 6.2)

EC (2:1 Extraction Method): (0.6-0.9)

Fertilization: Medium (150-200 ppm)

Light Requirements: High

Water Categories:Moderate to Moist

Production Temperature: (65-72¡ F)

Holding Temperature: (50-60¡ F)

Spring Outdoor Finish: Last to move outside, Salvia do not like chilling temperatures (35-40¡ F) so wait until these temperatures have passed before producing under outdoor conditions.

Planting and Timing Information:

Spring-Summer Sales

Container size

# liners /pot

Time to

finish

4-5" and Quart Pot

1

4-5 weeks

6" and Gallon Pot

1

5-6 weeks

8-10" Pot

1-3

6-8 weeks

10"-14" pot

3-5

6-8 weeks

Crop Culture Report: Salvia Ablazin' Series

Rick Schoellhorn

Rick Schoellhorn works with new products at Proven Winners. For more information about Ablazin' salvia, go to www.provenwinners.com.



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