Those looking for new kinds of cut flowers are going to love Evolution Salvia farinacea. This was named as a 2006 Flower Award Winner by All America Selections. Suitable as a cut flower, this can also be dried as an everlasting.
Cut flower lovers will love the fact that this blooms for a very long time, from June through October. Considered a half hardy annual in colder areas, this is suitable for cutting gardens.
Though Evolution is best grown as an annual in most areas of the country, it will be winter hardy in USDA eight through eleven. This can survive temperatures as low as 28 degrees Fahrenheit.
Evolution represents in a breakthrough in terms of color. This is the very first violet-flowering Salvia farinacea. All of the others are some shade of blue. The individual blossoms are one-half inch across.
The plants are about knee-high, reaching 1Ĺ to two feet in height with a spread of about 1Ĺ feet. The bushy, well-branched, full plants produce a good number of flower spikes.
The foliage is an attractive glossy, medium green. Choose a well drained spot for Evolution. Plant them about a foot apart. It does best in full sun. However in hot areas, some shade in the afternoon is helpful.
In the cutting garden, this is definitely an undemanding plant. Requiring little attention, it is drought tolerant, minimizing the need for watering. The plants are unbothered by insect or disease problems.
For best results, seeds of Evolution should be planted indoors or in a greenhouse about one to two months before the last expected frost date.
Sow the seeds in trays or pots very thinly. Donít cover them. They need light in order to germinate. Keep the pots at about 75-78 degrees Fahrenheit until the seeds germinate. This usually takes about 12-15 days. Once the seedlings emerge, put them in a cooler spot. Around 60 degrees Fahrenheit would be ideal at that stage.
Once Evolution is established in your cutting garden, they can also be grown from cuttings and division just as you would with any other Salvia farinacea.
The plants begin to bloom 90-100 days from the time the seeds are planted.
Seeds of Evolution and other 2006 All America Selections winners will be available in time for the 2006 planting season. Local garden centers and nurseries should have plants for sale as well.
This concludes Part I of a two-part series on the All America Selections flowers for 2006. Next week we'll look at the rest.