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PAL Questions: 2 - Garden Tools:
I am looking for rare Siberian lavender. Can you help?
I think what you mean is Russian sage, Perovskia atriplicifolia. You might want to phone your favorite retail nursery to see whether they carry it (it is very popular). If it is not available, here are two Oregon nurseries that list it in their current catalogs:
The following article from University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana Extension describes the confusion between Russian sage and 'Siberian lavender:'
"To the best of my knowledge, there is no such plant as Siberian Lavender. I have heard of English lavender, French lavender and Spanish lavender. By law all of these offers must list the Latin name of the plant; although sometimes it is in the tiniest of print. Check the ad again and see if you can find the words Perovskia atriplicifolia anywhere in the ad. Russian sage. It is a really fine plant, but it is not lavender. It does not look like lavender and it does not smell like lavender.
Do your homework and read the fine print. I know many people are not familiar with botanical names, but that is the only way to know what you are getting. Once you know the botanical name, even if you cannot pronounce it, you can find information about the plant. Botanical names are unique. Common names can be very misleading. A good example is an ad I saw recently in the newspaper. It was touting the luxurious beauty and fragrance of Siberian lavender. I had never heard of anything called Siberian lavender so I kept reading. The ad stated (with lots of exclamation points) how Siberian lavender produces thousands of flowers and has the delicate scent of lavender perfume year after year. Wow, sounds pretty fantastic. I continued to look to find the botanical name. In the minuscule fine print it said, Variety: perovskia atripliafolia (which I assume to be the misspelling of Perovskia atriplicifolia) also known as Russian sage. Russian sage is a nice perennial plant with silvery white leaves and soft bluish-purple flowers held in loose spikes. However, even from far away on a foggy day I doubt Russian sage would hold even a slight resemblance to lavender. Russian sage does have a fragrance, but it is more reminiscent of sage than of lavender."
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Last year I planted 25 gorgeous Russian Sage in 1 1/2 gal pots. They were fabulous last year, but barely came back this year. We had a mild winter here in New Jersey, but even so, I know that is not an issue with that plant as I've grown it for years. This year I planted an additional 40 in the same hillside and they are doing phenomenally well. On last year's plants, some have flowered a tiny bit, but none have come back to the size they were and most are so small, they look like they came from a 6-inch pot! Do you have any thoughts as to what I can do to improve the situation?
Also, although we haven't had much rain, I am seeing what I'm assuming is mold on several of my plants: trumpet vine, roses, honeysuckle. The zucchini and cucumbers have been totally decimated so there is no fruit. White is covering the leaves and with the veggies, the leaves are crumbling and disintegrating.
There are a few possibilities for the poor showing of your Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) plants. However, without knowing more details about the growing conditions, I may be offering you advice that does not help. If the pots you selected to grow your plants in were made of a thin material, there is a chance you did not provide them with enough protection from the winter temperatures. Planting them directly into the ground can help to avoid this, if it's possible for you to do so in their location.
Depending on the amount of sun and moisture your plants are receiving, poor growth can result. Russian Sage plants like "a well-drained soil and need to have a warm to hot, sunny position" in the garden. (The Cultivation of Hardy Perennials by Richard Bird published in London by B.T. Batsford Ltd in 1994) If the soil is too wet, root rot can occur.
If they are in the proper cultural environment (lots of sun and well-drained soil), then perhaps they are lacking nourishment. The Plant Care Manual by Stefan Buczacki (published by Crown Publishers in New York in 1993), suggests feeding your plants with a general purpose fertilizer in mid-spring and in mid-summer.
As for your second question, I believe what you are describing is a case of powdery mildew. It is a fungus that shows itself in times of dry weather. The main thing you will need to do is destroy all the foliage affected by the mildew. The mildew on infected foliage will spread to new foliage.
Powdery mildew thrives where plants are crowded and there isn't enough air circulation, so give your plants space, a sunny site, and try watering in the morning, and watering from beneath the plants (not over the leaves) so they are able to dry off during the course of the day.
Here is a link to the University of California-Davis, Integrated Pest Management website. You can learn more about this fungus, including host plants, life cycle and management.
Colorado State University Cooperative Extension has some information about powdery mildew as well, including preventative measures and a recipe for making your own baking soda fungicide.
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January 13 2017 10:35:53