- Writer: Adam Russell, 903-834-6191, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact: Dr. Brent Pemberton, 903-834-6191, email@example.com
COLLEGE STATION – A new and improved salvia variety — Mystic Spires Improved Blue Salvia – has been named the latest Texas Superstar and is available for purchase in retail garden centers and nurseries.
Mystic Spires Improved was named a 2018 Texas Superstar plant by Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturalists after a year of field trials around the state. The original Mystic Spires Blue Salvia was tested in field trials throughout Texas for four years.
To be designated a Texas Superstar, a plant must not only be beautiful but also perform well for consumers and growers throughout the state. Texas Superstars must be easy to propagate, which should ensure the plants are not only widely available throughout Texas but also reasonably priced.
Dr. Brent Pemberton, Texas Superstar Executive Board member and AgriLife Research ornamental horticulturist, Overton, said the improved variety is the result of choosing and propagating better Blue Salvia plants within the original variety.
“I consider this such an outstanding variety that I would use it as a backbone to any perennial garden,” Pemberton said. “It’s a proven variety for all of Texas and stays in flower all season. It’s one of those varieties that’s hard to mess up.”
Mystic Spires Improved is a perennial plant that grows to 18-30 inches and prefers full sun, Pemberton said. It is a good variety for bedding, containers and perennial borders and shows nicely as a cut flower.
“It is a compact form of another popular salvia called Indigo Spires,” Pemberton said.
Though shorter than Indigo Spires, the variety flowers even more freely throughout the entire growing season. It produces masses of true-blue flowers that mix nicely with other annuals and perennials, is tolerant of heat and both low and high humidity, and is not bothered by pests, diseases or browsing deer, he said.
The improved form sheds dead petals for a cleaner look in the garden, Pemberton said, and the result is a plant that looks fuller, healthier and more colorful.
“After 2018, the ‘Improved’ part of the name will be dropped, as the original form will no longer available,” he said. “With the introduction of Mystic Spires Blue Salvia, a great selection gets even better.”
Mystic Spires Blue Salvia is hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zone 7 with good drainage, Pemberton said. Excess water and fertilizer can result in excessive vegetative growth and lack of flowers.
Planting can be done in spring and summer from containers. While Mystic Spires adapts well to most soils, it needs good drainage.
If needed, plants can be pruned during the growing season as reflowering occurs quickly. Shoots can be pruned to 12 inches or so in the fall after being killed by freeze, but refrain from pruning to the ground until growth is strong in the spring.
Texas Superstar is a registered trademark owned by AgriLife Research, a state agency that is part of the Texas A&M University System. Plants are designated Texas Superstars by the Texas Superstar Executive Board, which is made up of seven AgriLife Research and AgriLife Extension and Texas Tech University horticulturalists.
More information about other Texas Superstar plants and a list of wholesalers and retailers who stock them can be found at http://texassuperstar.com/.