15 October 2009

Save your Salvia 'Black and Blue' tubers!


I'm a huge fan of Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' -- actually, I think everyone is. Dark blue flowers, contrasting black calxy -- it is a supermodel of a plant. And, for me, tender. But: I learned something: It produces tubers. So, after our recent freeze, I went out with a garden fork and popped the plants. Sure enough, nice, fat, funny looking tubers. They've now been wrapped loosely in news paper, popped in a plastic grocery bag, and are sitting in the basement to wait for spring. (BTW: I used to avoid tender bulbs like dahlia and gladiolus because gardening books I'd read talked of storing them over the winter in damp but not wet sand (?) and such nonsense. But I've found a sheet of newspaper, a loosely closed plastic bad and cool basement work perfect.) Sure beats re-buying them every year!

13 comments:

Kathy said...

Thank you for this! I do love B&B salvia but was disappointed the one year I had it in my garden. I will try it again next year and save the tubers. The same thing can be done with flowering tobacco. At least, my sister in law wintered hers over in the house one year.

Did you find the stems of the salvia to be brittle? I started it out in a container by the front door, but passersby (okay, children) seemed to break a stem every time they walked by it.

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

I never knew that and it is so great to know. Thanks so much for the tip.

Greensparrow said...

Kathy, yes, the stems are very brittle. I had no idea about flowering tobacco! That's great to know. I'll have to try it next year. I always overwinter a bunch of tropicals, but ones with bulbs or tubers are great because they don't need some of my limited window space.

Anonymous said...

I have grown S. guaranitica 'Black & Blue for several years but only had it come back one year. Usually I get impatient and dig the plants up too soon in spring only to find out that there was still some life in those tubers. I am trying your method this year on a couple of my plants. I hope it works out as well for me. I also want to try it on one of my Black and Blue hybrids that had pale lavender flowers since I didn't take cuttings before our first frost.

Dan said...

It has now been a couple years since this post about overwintering black & blue. What kind of success have you had with this method? When you say "loosely closed plastic bag", how much of an opening do you leave? Can the root ball/tubers really stay moist enough for four months if the bag is not shut?

Greensparrow said...

Dan,
I do this every year with good success. I use the exact same method for my dahlias and such as well.
"Loosely closed" isn't a good term is it? I should edit that. I basically put them in a plastic grocery bag, then tie it partially, but not completely, closed, to allow some air flow. However, the basement I store them in is unfinished and leaks water rather badly, so it is quite humid down there. If the place you are storing them is better built, drying out could be more of a problem.

Keith said...

Works for me too!
Also works for Salvia patens.
My new tuberous discovery this year has been Datura wrightii, so I'll find out next spring about this one.........

Dan said...

I stored a few black & blues and one blue ensign in my friends' cool basement(should be near 50 degrees, but I'll check for sure next week) a couple weeks ago. Today I checked them again to see what the moisture level inside the bags was like. I was quite shocked to see that the three black & blues were not dormant at all, but were very noticeably growing. One of the plants has downright exploded with tons of shoots and runners. Obviously, I don't want to see that kind of growth until spring. Perhaps the plants were awaken by the temporary higher warmth when they spent a few days in my basement. It seems I have no choice but to bring the plants back outside next week when we have a mild stretch of weather(high temps in the 30s). Hopefully, that will get them back into a dormant state.

Greensparrow said...

Dan,
When I pull mine out in the spring, I usually see a few shoots beginning to show, but not much. I've never checked them during the winter, so I'm not sure when they start growing, but now seems much too early. I'm guessing the basement is simply too warm. I wonder if you could try the refrigerator? Black and Blue is pretty cold tolerant, so I don't think it would harm them.

Dan said...

Today I learned the temperature in my friends' basement is 54 degrees. They went to Florida for the winter and set their house to 55 degrees. I thought they set it to 50, and that it might be a few degrees cooler in the basement, but apparently not. I sure wish I had a room somewhere that stayed at about 45 degrees.

Right now I have the three black & blues sitting in their bags out in the cold(but not freezing) air. Once the cold penetrates the roots/tubers for a few days, I'll take them back to the basement.

Dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan said...

My friend just told me I can set their house temperature down to 50 degrees. That should help to keep my plants dormant.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I live in zone 5 and overwinter my Salvia Black & Blue plants in the garage. After the first hard frost and before the ground is frozen, I cut down the stems, dig them up, and pot them. Then put the pots in the garage and give them a bit of water about once a month. In early spring they start to sprout shoots. Been doing this for about 3 years now, it works pretty well (lose an occasional plant). I love Salvia B&B.