Black & Bloom salvia is a hardy, showy addition to containers or pollinator plots

Black & Bloom salvia is a hardy, showy addition to containers or pollinator plots

Published: 05/24/2018 09:50:52 PM

Cobalt blue and indigo blue are two terms I regularly see as descriptors or adjectives if I want to use one of the relatively new Black & Bloom salvia plants, one of the hottest plants on the market. Hummingbird magnetism and strength of spikes are other qualities that let you know this is a special plant.

It’s not every day that a plant scores highly in trials as a southern and northern annual arrives in Canada, but that’s the case for Black & Bloom. I’ll tell you when I first heard the name of the plant I thought someone was making a cheap knockoff or knockoff of the black and blue color I love.

This was definitely not the case, and if I had been told that Ball FloraPlant was behind the engineering of this sage I would have instantly known it was something special, as they are gurus in all things sage. Black & Bloom has written an all around winner in so many ways.

It is vigorous, reaching up to 48 inches in height and width, and the leaves are thicker and able to withstand more sun than its predecessor. The stems are sturdy and black which makes the cobalt blue flowers with black calyxes even more dramatic. As experiments have shown, due to its early flowering, even the far northern regions of the United States and Canada can enjoy the rare beauty of this plant

As further proof of their amazing performance in the garden, they are included in the Southern Living Plants and Sunset Western Garden Collection. This is a wonderful plant that you should be able to find at your local garden center.

Recently I’ve seen collections of Black & Bloom that simply amazed me. The first was a partnership with Vermillionaire Cobia, another champion of the world of hummingbird plants. The red/orange and yellow tubular flowers created a dazzling marriage with the cobalt blue flowers of the salvia.

Other eye-catching combinations have seen it paired with the color apricot. In these plantings, one was used with Flying Colors Apricot diascia, a relative of the snapdragon, and the other with Saucy Apricot Salvia. There is something very special about combining these two rare garden colors together.

To grow your site, choose a full sun location for best blooms. This plant is winter hardy from zones 8-10 but only with good drainage. A cold winter combined with wet soil and plants will be history. As mentioned above in cooler regions, this will be one of the best annuals you can grow from summer until frost.

Prepare your bed by adding 3 to 4 inches of organic matter such as fine pine bark or compost, to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. While preparing the bed, add 2 pounds of a 12-6-6 slow-release fertilizer with simple nutrients. Plant them at the same depth they grow in the container, 2 to 3 feet apart.

Black & Bloom can potentially reach 48 inches in height, so plant at the back of the border. In addition to the above groups, don’t be afraid to try rudbeckias like Prairie Sun, or Lantanas like Cosmic Firestorm that will give you a great backyard habitat for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Surely your children and grandchildren are interested in gardening.

(Norman Winter is a horticulturist, garden speaker, and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)

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