1. Q: I just recently purchased some salvias and planted them with other green plants in a pot. How do I care for these properly? Does "miracle grow" work? How often should I water them?

A: Most salvias require full sun (8-10 hours of direct sun) with the best location receiving morning sun and afternoon shade. To fertilize any container-grown plant, it is best to mix Osmocote slow-release fertilizer into the potting mix before planting then fertilize weekly with a water soluble fertilizer such as Miracle-Grow or Peters 20-20-20. Watering will be done according to potting mix used, size of container (larger containers need less frequent waterings), plant age and heat. You can start by watering every other day. As the plant gets larger and the temperature gets hotter, you may have to shorten the interval. If plants wilt during the hot part of the day and do not recover by the next morning the plants are dry and need a thorough (until water comes out the bottom of the container) watering. You should remove the bloom spikes of the salvias after blooms have faded to encourage continuous bloom.

2. Q: I'm interested in growing Salvia coccinea ("Lady in Red"). Could you give some instructions on how to grow and care for this plant? Please advise me on items such as planting location, type of soil, as well as watering, prunning, and fertilizing techniques.

A: "Lady in Red" salvia coccinea practically grows itself even years after you plant it the first time since it will readily sprout next spring from seed produced this year. It can be planted from seed or transplant. The unusual thing about this salvia is that it blooms well in semi-shaded areas or in full sun. Most salvias will NEVER bloom if planted in semi-shade. I wonder if it is not to late to plant it in your area. You should have at least 3 months of warm weather left. Othewise, wait until next spring to plant it after all danger of frost is past. Even though the plants are named "Lady in Red" most people agree that the bloom is more pink than red until the weather cools. Of course, plants grow best in a prepared (organic material added and well fertilized with 2-3 pounds of a slow-release formulation of fertilizer per 100 square feet) bed. Plants may need to be trimmed back periodically to remove old bloom spikes and force new growth on which the blooms are formed.

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