Salvia-fest, spring bulbs & pumpkin decorate!

September 24th, 2009 Posted in Uncategorized

Salvia greggii was my first native perennial, a big deal for me when I nabbed this “rare” plant at Zilker Garden Festival years ago. Then, we all simply knew it as “cherry sage.”

Salvia greggi, cherry pink
Now, you can find this drought-tolerant, evergreen wildlife-magnet everywhere, and in lots of colors.

Salvia greggii 'Theresa'

The secret to these guys is pruning, since they bloom on new growth.

White salvia greggii

In January or February, prune strong (by half, or so) to avoid a sparse, woody plant.

Apricot Salvia greggii

In late August, give them a light haircut to prompt fall color. The more diligent among us shape them throughout the year, including plants like the silver germander with this red salvia. I am not in that club.

Red Salvia greggii with silver germander

Despite my laxness, when they bloom again in fall, I know it’s time to watch for another of my first natives: the spiderworts (Tradescantia gigantea).

Spiderworts emerging (Tradescantia gigantea)
When they emerge in September, I know that we’re around the bend, and by golly, spring will indeed come again.

For me, gardening is not just about this season, but what’s to come. Yea, it’s the never-ending to-do list.  But when you plant surprises for the future, it’s like having a new garden all over again every season.

Since it’s time to get your naturalizing spring bulbs, this week on CTG, Tom and Chris Wiesinger from Southern Bulb Company point us to a few of the best returns. They throw in some for other seasons, too. Here are a few of Chris’s pictures.

Narcissus tazetta Grand Primo

Narcissus tazetta Grand Primo

Narcissus tazetta Golden Dawn

Narcissus tazetta Golden Dawn

Tulipa clusiana ‘Tubergen’s Gem’

Cluisiana tulips will naturalize for you and don’t need refrigeration.

Tulipa clusiana 'Tubergen's Gem'

White rain lily (Zephyranthes candida)

A rain lily that you can add to your bog or pond!

White rain lily (Zephyranthes candida)

And lots more!

On tour this week, meet the cutie-pies at the Lucy Read Pre-Kindergarten Demonstration School. Last spring, we taped them planting their very first tulips. I’ll never forget those tiny hands carefully patting the soil, and the intrigued looks on their faces.

Lucy Read tulip plant

It was all thanks to the Texas Flower Bulb Society and charter member Danny Fowler’s idea for EAGER, as a way to give back to the community and encourage young hands to connect with the soil.  Contact them at

Since Halloween is just around the corner, get Trisha’s garden tricks with pumpkins, a real treat for everyone!

Jack-'o-lantern design from the garden

Until next week, Linda

  1. 8 Responses to “Salvia-fest, spring bulbs & pumpkin decorate!”

  2. By Jenny Peterson on Sep 24, 2009

    Hey Linda! Thanks for salvia info! When I was a younger gardener, I never had luck with them because of their legginess, but your pruning advice is making me rethink them. Muchas muchas gracias.


  3. By Tatyana on Sep 25, 2009

    Hi Linda! Thanks for posting about Salvia. It’s one of my favorites. I needed some tips about its pruning! I love the pictures, too. There are so many colors! I have a red lip salvia, it self-seeded, but the babies have plain pink flowers. They are pretty, but not as interesting as mother-plant blooms.


  4. By Linda on Sep 25, 2009

    Yes, Jenny & Tatyana,

    Pruning is the key. In January or February, cut back severely (by half or so) and remove dead canes. In May, lightly shape (3-4″ maybe)? Again in late August, 1/3 or so. Anytime, you can shape them anytime, if you are so inclined, to promote lush growth, but the severe pruning is in winter.


  5. By Jenny on Sep 26, 2009

    Yes, what would we do without the salvias. I must get some of the white one. This morning I was thinking tulips too. Just learnt about those beauties last year and went ahead and ordered some more. Your picture of the pumpkin brought an early morning smile to my face- some people are so creative.


  6. By Annie in Austin on Sep 26, 2009

    Hi Linda – your reminders are timely!

    Salvia greggii was in bloom when we moved into our first Austin house in 1999 and it’s been a favorite from day one. How interesting to find out it was once rare – by the time we got here it was available at all the nurseries. The photo of the red salvia with the Silver germander is lovely!

    Salvia greggii does okay in some parts of our second Austin garden, but unfortunately has not been as well pruned as it should be. It’s so hard to snip off flowers here where we want to hang onto every little bloom!

    No leaves are visible on my spiderwort yet – hope that unlike John Cleese’s parrot, it really is sleeping and not dead.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose


  7. By Meredith on Sep 26, 2009

    Thanks for the Salvia tips, Linda! Those kindergarteners are so cute!


  8. By Gail on Sep 28, 2009

    Hi Linda, I so love that salvias are everywhere these days! But I didn’t know to cut them back by half earlier in the season…Now I know why I have so few blooms. Thanks you for the info…I’ll add it to my To Know list! gail


  9. By Mary Delle on Sep 29, 2009

    I love those salvias. I didn’t know the secret was the pruning. Now I’ve learned something new about my beauties. I just love them and the hummingbird does too.


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