Mysty will be the hottest plant at the garden center this spring, and it's likely, everyone will want several. Mysty is the dazzling new compact salvia indigo spires that was the talk of all the trials last year. Most trials score on a 1-5 scale, and Mysty was well over 4 at Young Plant Trials in Alabama, UGA Trials in Athens, Ga., and at the prestigious Penn State Trials, it was near perfect.
Gardeners crave this rare blue color in the long summer garden, and Mysty will be the perfect choice reaching 12 to 18-inches tall and as wide with blooming spikes creating excitement with color and texture. These spiky blooms will thrill as they shoot above that imaginary horizontal plane of the flower border.
The first Indigo Spires, our old-fashioned preserving perennial, was found growing in the Huntington Botanical Garden in the 1970s and was made available in 1979. John MacGregor, horticulturist at the California garden, described his lucky find as a "sterile hybrid courtesy of the bees."
One of my favorite horticultural websites says, "Indigo Spires tends to keep growing and growing and then falling over under its own weight. Constant pruning and pinching will keep it in bounds, and removing the flower spikes after most of the flowers have dropped off will encourage more blooming."
In 2006 Ball FloraPlant introduced Mystic Spires the first dwarf or compact Salvia Indigo Spires, and for 12 years it has remained one of the must-have plants in the garden, blooming all summer. Now Ball FloraPlant has done it again giving us an even tighter smaller growth habit that will not only be treasured in the garden, but that will make it the first selection of choice for mixed containers and those that might want to use it in monoculture.
If winter drainage is good, Mysty will be cold hardy through zone 7, like its predecessor. We usually think about drainage in the spring and summer and rightfully so, but it is even more critical in the winter for salvias. Wet winter feet spells doom for salvias, lantanas, and verbenas, but good winter drainage coupled with mulch will allow many plants to return in the spring far outside their hardiness zone.
Mysty comes from a cross of Salvia farinacea native to Texas and New Mexico and Salvia longispicata, also from Mexico, so they are very tough and drought tolerant. They perform best in full sun and once established in the bed; they exhibit drought tolerance and a rugged late summer perseverance. This is particularly true when a layer of mulch is added. However, if we have a prolonged dry spell, supplemental irrigation would be necessary. Please do not stick this stunning plant in tight, compacted clay soil.
Mysty is the quintessential cottage garden flower and will create a photo moment when combined with other perennials like purple coneflowers, pink gaura, and summer phlox. They will look stunning when paired with gold or yellow plants like rudbeckia or gloriosa daisies, lantanas, and Golden Lace patrinia for a complementary color scheme.
One more attribute, not only will the spiky blue flowers rise up creating dazzling color and excitement, but you will notice they will also be playing host to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. You have to agree this is an outstanding plant.
(Norman Winter, 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.)
(c)2018 Norman Winter
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