What appeared to look like a very mild Winter, quickly deceived us with frigid temperatures. Nothing could have prepared us for the last 2 weeks, with lows reaching -30 Celsius and colder. But things are about to break. Temperatures much closer to the freezing mark will be extremely welcome over the next week.
The ground remains frozen 2 ft below the surface up here in the North, but the hummingbirds have begun to get that itch in their feathers down south. Absolutely nothing can curb their desire to travel hundreds of miles for one sole purpose, breeding. While they do what they do, I spend hours downstairs in the plant room preparing for the upcoming season and improving on the last.
In the previous hummingbird season, we added one fantastic addition to our hummingbird garden. We managed to find a stockpile of "farina blue salvias" at a local plant store. They stood an impressive 2 ft tall and provided a striking appearance in each one of our raised pots. The previous year we sampled one of them, or should I say the hummingbirds did, and they found it to be one of the best flowers in the garden. Because there was only one of them, the nectar supply ran short quickly. So last year we placed one in each pot, and it did wonders. Not only did the Young birds appreciate each and every one of them, but the dominant male, Gunner, also appreciated the additions. These salvia flowers looked so good at the end of the season, I found it far too difficult to let them go down with the frost, so I chose to propagate them from cuttings. It was a relatively simple process, however a bit time-consuming, but all I had was time over the next 6 months. 1. I took a couple candy tub containers with lids, and drilled out some large holes in the lids. 2. Then I cut about 50 Sylvia cuttings, leaving only two large leaves, and in some cases only one. If there was a flower pushing out between those leaves, I snipped it off. 3. I simply placed all of those cuttings through the holes in the lid, and filled up the plastic tub with water. I set these plastic tubs just out of direct light in the house, but with plenty of indirect light. 3. It didn't take long before many of them developed roots. I would say the success rate was about 60%. 4. As the individual cuttings would develop a good set of roots, I placed them into a 3" pot with 75% peat moss and 25% perlite. 5. I simply kept them under fluorescent lights over the winter, watered them daily, and fed them a bit of 20-20-20 fertilizer every other week. Right now they are doing very well. With two and a half months to go, I'm sure they will have several flower heads by the time they get placed out in Spring.
I will continue to nurture these newly developed plants along with many other seedlings that I started about 6 weeks ago, and I will wait and wonder about the new season to come.