Southern Living Plant Collection’s ‘Amistad’ Salvia could pass MSU, LSU tests

Posted: May 22, 2013

Radell Smith from showcases the Southern Living Plant Collection's 'Amistad' Salvia...

On Wednesday, May 22, 2013, the Columbus Dispatch provided gardeners with a colorful perennial flower choice option that could survive and thrive in the humid and hot southern portion of the country: the Salvia flower.

Gardeners in Georgia and elsewhere in the South need plants that can survive their extreme heat but still produce colorful blooms. And those are the plants that were sought for inclusion in a new trial garden in North Georgia by the Atlanta Pop Culture Examiner this month.

The people at Southern Living Plant Collection, along with several other plant companies, were approached about contributing plants to the project. And with Southern Living's own website touting that they have "superior plants for southern gardens," then one would expect them to step up to the plate and let their products speak for themselves. And they certainly did.

Nine boxes arrived full of products the Atlanta Pop Examiner desired to test against the elements last Thursday, and now each item has been carefully placed in the clay-based soil.

One of those products happened to be a salvia, Salvia 'Amistad' PPAF, to be exact. And in the recent past, both MSU and LSU have conducted tests on salvia flower types in general (annuals and perennials) in order to determine their fitness for southern gardens, giving both types the thumbs up for southern plantings.

Southern Living Plant's salvia is a perennial, so gardeners who choose to plant it should be able to expect year after year of blooms. That's a treat because the unusually-shaped dark purple flowers, which sit above an almost-black calyx (base), stretch out from a wine-colored stalk that is both flexible and strong and which will bloom from spring to frost.

Thus far, this particular plant has managed to endure one strong thunderstorm downpour without nary a broken stem, as well as temperatures in the low 90s. And since the trial garden is really in USDA Zone 7, rather than zones 8-11, which is where this salvia is supposed to be planted, then it is already exceeding this gardener's expectations. And it begs the question: Might plants from this particular collection fare just as well outside the zones intended?

The SLPC website indicates that this particular salvia is both heat tolerant and drought tolerant, too, which explains why the company's instructions include only moderate or regular watering is needed. That's great for the flower grower who may forget to turn on the sprinkler system.

In addition, the purple-blooming flower can be expected to thrive in full sun or part shade, so there is great flexibility in where it is planted. Additionally, it will grow quickly in the spring and summer, for those looking for quick flowering results.

Salvia 'Amistad' PPAF attracts birds, butterflies and lots of curious neighbors and passerby, so make sure you have plenty of food for man and animal before planting this beautiful southerngardening flower.

For a list of more than 6000 garden centers and nurseries who sell this plant and other Southern Living Plant Collection products, click here.

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