Salvias are work horses in the garden and are easy to propagate

Salvias are work horses in the garden and are easy to propagate

I have a salvia that I bought last year and it has been very good for me. I wasn’t sure if it was going to the right place, so I just bought one. Now, I want to try it in other places around the yard but I can’t find it this year. Is it possible to propagate salvia plants and how is this done?

Both annual and perennial sage plants are real workhorses in the garden and both can thrive in your North Florida garden. Annuals provide quick, short-lived warm-season color, while perennial species can bloom year-round unless killed by frost. The colorful, slender tubular flowers of these plants make wonderful flower beds and last for several days indoors. Both species are fast growers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. And if all that wasn’t enough, it’s easy to grow and has no serious pests.

Since you’ve found a plant you love, propagating more of it will be easy. At this time of year, you can make stem cuttings.

Cut an actively growing stem or side stem 4 to 5 inches long just below a leaf node and remove all but two or three sets of leaves at the top. Dipping the cut end into rooting hormone available from nurseries is helpful, but not always necessary.

In a container containing about 3 inches of vermiculite, perlite, or a 50:50 mix of potting soil and perlite, make a hole about the diameter of a pencil. Just regular potting soil also works well. Insert the pieces and secure the center around them. Make sure the container has drainage holes. Nothing likes wet toes, especially plants.

Place the container with the cuttings in a sealable plastic bag or under a glass cloche to reduce moisture loss but open it occasionally to allow fresh air.

Place the covered container in indirect light and keep out of the way. Within 4 to 8 weeks, the cutting will have developed roots and will be ready to be placed in potting medium. Gradually expose these new plants to more sunlight and slowly acclimatize them to their new environments.

When planting them in the landscape, remember that most sage plants do best in full sun, but they will still do in partial shade, just not as well. They want well-drained soil and are considered relatively drought tolerant. Give them a balanced, slow-release fertilizer every spring. When the flowers die, remove these spikes to encourage more blooms.

Look for seeds later in the year. They may be viable and may provide more plants, as long as the original plant is not a hybrid. Another reward from a hardworking manufacturer.

I was recently in California, where artichokes are served in almost every restaurant. This was fine for me because artichokes are one of my favorite food groups. Since I’ve seen a lot of the plants we routinely grow here, I wonder if we can grow artichokes in Florida. I’m ready to try it.

Although Florida shares a lot of flowers and fruits with California, artichokes aren’t one of them yet.

What we consume is the unopened flower bud of a thistle-like plant. It is not well adapted to the Florida climate because our warm subtropical climate causes the buds to open before they reach marketable size. This early flowering destroys the edible parts of the bud.

Until now, almost all of the country’s artichokes are grown near or along the California coast, where the climate is cool and temperate. Castroville, California is known as the artichoke capital of the world.

Historically, artichokes originated in southern Europe, where they have been cultivated since Roman times, and were brought to California by Spanish explorers. Much later, in the Colonial era, Thomas Jefferson grew artichokes in his extensive gardens at his Monticello plantation in 1767, and found ways to combat cold winters.

But don’t despair if you’ll never enjoy home-grown artichokes. Intrepid Assistant Professor of Horticultural Sciences at the University of Florida, Shinsuke Ajihara, has your back. Since 2015, Ajhara has been working to make delicious artichokes a viable alternative crop for the Sunshine State.

Why? Because small farmers in Florida are looking for alternative crops that are attractive to consumers and profitable for themselves. A single plant can produce many flower heads, which can sell for up to $5 per artichoke. Obviously, this will be beneficial to the farmer who can supply this market.

However, while waiting for more progress from UF, if you want to give artichokes a grow turn, look no further than the seeds of the ‘Green Globe’ variety. Since seeds are known to be “genetically diverse” and do not always produce plants that are identical to the type, planting parts of an old artichoke stem or root shoots is a better idea. It is plausible that our local nurseries do not offer these things. But a quick online search turned up several vendors, each of which also offered growing tips.

Someone even suggested the option of growing artichokes in containers. I love containers for trying out plants I know nothing about. You can move them around until you find the right spot for a particular plant. Mostly, I like the fact that there is no long-term commitment. It’s just another potted plant, after all. So what do you have to lose?

The University of Florida publication “Artichoke-Globe” ( is a good starting point for potential growers. Although written for commercial growers and much more detailed than a homeowner might want, Virginia Cooperative Extension’s “Specialty Crop Profile: Globe Artichoke” is another excellent resource for anyone eager to start their own artichoke garden ( https://pubs.ext

Paula Weatherby is a horticulturist with the Duval County Extension Service and the University of Florida/IFAS. For gardening questions, call the Duval County Extension office at (904) 255-7450 from 9 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. and request a master gardener.

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