Crop Culture Report: Salvia Cathedral Series
The garden performance of Salvia farinacea is well known. They are anchors of many landscapes north and south. Their ease of production is just as well known. Growers happily produce farinaceas by the tens-of-thousands nationwide. Traditionally, the vast majority of this number has come from seed-produced farinaceas.
The Cathedral series from Bodger Botanicals is vegetatively propagated and available in Deep Blue, Sky Blue and White. Cathedrals are bred to be considerably larger than seed farinaceas. While others’ inflorescences tend to be wiry, each of the Cathedral’s are more visible in landscapes and at retail due to their size. The flowers of ‘Cathedral Sky Blue’ are especially large. Growers have also commented that the flowers of ‘Cathedral White’ are “not silvery” and therefore more pure in color.
From a production standpoint, growers will welcome two excellent characteristics of the Cathedrals. First, their habit is more stout than wispy, making them more presentable and easier to ship. Growers can also expect to use less PGRs on this series. Additionally, their crop time is substantially shorter than that of seed farinaceas. From a rooted liner, growers can expect 3 weeks less crop time when compared to a seed farinacea from a 288 plug.
Cathedrals are available both rooted and unrooted. Unrooted cuttings may be rooted using standard practices — they are not picky. However, particularly noteworthy is that once rooted, Cathedrals should be transplanted immediately. Once rootbound, further root growth is considerably checked. Upon establishment in liners, 50- to 75-ppm nitrogen may be applied. This will help keep the plants vegetative, colored up and allow for a more seamless transition into finishing containers.
Transplant one rooted liner into a 4-inch pot and give one pinch. Cathedrals perform well in larger pots as well. For 6-inch pots, either transplant one liner with two pinches or two liners with one pinch. Cathedrals are also well suited for gallon containers. Use two plants per container and give one pinch. Lastly, Cathedral varieties make good components to combination pots where their vertical appearance works well with trailing plants. In combinations, pinch each Cathedral once.
Use a well-drained media and allow for slight wilting between irrigations. During the cooler, more cloudy production months of February and March, be sure to adequately allow the media to dry down between irrigations. This will help eliminate any disease concerns. In all but the hottest of climates, Cathedrals prefer high light conditions. Under hot production climates, light shade may be necessary. Cathedrals produce the largest flowers when grown at 65-75° F day temperatures. Nonetheless, they should easily withstand occasional production temperatures approaching 90° F. Fertilize every other irrigation (100-150 ppm) using a well-balanced, nitrate-based feed that includes micros. Periodic leaching will help maintain an EC no higher than 1.0. Maintain a pH in the 6.0-6.5 range.
For best results, space Cathedrals once adjacent leaves begin to touch each other. While the Cathedrals are already resistant to stretching, it is in salvia’s nature to stretch a bit. Adequate spacing will help yield the highest quality plants when growing Cathedrals.
Cathedrals are relatively quick to finish. For 4-inch pots, allow 6-8 weeks to finish from transplant (one pinch).
Cathedrals have a wonderful habit but should they require growth control, most major PGRs are effective. For light control, use B-Nine (daminozide). For more control, Bonzi (paclobutrazol) is effective.
Periodically scout for aphids as Salvia farinacea is a favorite of theirs. Thrips may be an occasional problem. From a disease standpoint, Rhizoctonia and Phytophthora may require control. Allow media to dry between irrigations and apply a preventative drench.