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Salvia Mexicana Varieties

The mexicana tribe of Salvias are an interesting and very distinctive group of shrubs. Most are large rounded, bushy shrubs growing to about 2.5 – 3m H, and having a good spread of about 2m wide,  most have a spreading habit except ‘Snow flake’  and ‘Kieran’ which have  more upright growth habits.

Salvia mexicana 'Limelight'
Salvia mexicana 'Limelight'

They have very distinctive leaves, all having a wide heart shaped leaves. Often the base is oblique ( one side of the leaf is longer than the other). They usually have very long leaf stems and the veination is very distinct.

The growth habit is that the flower stem appears in the middle of two side shoots. These can often be at odd angles and not always carry a growing shoot, but rather a stem of leaves and flowers.

They are among the earliest of the Autumn Salvias to flower. They produce some of the most wonderful flowers with interesting coloured  calyces. All have the same blue corolla with a hint of mauve, except ( ‘Snowflake’) but many have different coloured calyces.

When in bud, the unopened calyx looks crimped together. The bud doesn’t seem to be in the nodding position as in many other large Salvias, but rather grows from between two side shoots and two large leaves.

Mexicana Major

mexicana major

this is a bushy rounded shrub approx 2.5 -3m x 2m, possibly the largest of the tribe. Leaves are a good mid green, broad cordate shape with a thin texture. Veins are readily visible. Flowers : it has a green flower stem and calyx, quite compact with blue corollas with a hint of mauve. The calyx is crimped at the end before it opens to long tubular flowers.

S. m. major flowers in late Autumn, not as early as ‘Limelight’It is frost tender, needing some protection in the winter with other shrubs or under deciduous trees. Although it likes a sunny position, it does need shelter from hot winds in summer.A good background shrub or filler shrub between trees.


Salvia mexicana 'Limelight'
mexicana 'Limelight'
Salvia mexicana 'Limelight
mexicana 'Limelight'
mexican 'Limelight'

This is the earliest of all the winter flowering salvias, flowering in early Autumn, as early as late April / May.

Growing to 2 – 2.5m x 2.5m – an open shrub with large squashed green / grey cordate leaves, with long leaf stems New growth has a whitish look about it. Flower heads are compact, the calyces are a light green with the blue / purple corolla, making a wonderful contrast. The shrub is very floriferous and flowers for quite a long time, lasting approx. a month.

The little Spinebill Honeyeaters love this shrub. It is frost tender and needs protection. Grow this shrub in a sheltered, sunny, semi shades position. It also needs shelter from hot winds in summer and a  little water on hot days.

mexicana ‘Lolly’

This is a smaller shrub than the other mexicana’s, growing approx 1.2 – 1.5m, again an upright shrubby shrub with dark green, shiny, cordate leaves with the typical veination, and long leaf stems.
Again the flower stems appear between two side shoots.
Flowering in late Autumn / Winter, the flower heads are dense spikes, same blue / purple corollas
The calyces are dark, almost black – a wonderful contrast.
Frost tender – a warm sunny / semi shaded , sheltered position. Can set seed.
A smaller shrub as a background to roses or a smaller golden foliaged shrub.

‘Limelight’ Dwarf

mexicana 'Limelight'

This  is exactly the same as it’s parent but smaller; same flower heads, same leaves, but growing to about 1.5m. – good filler shrub.

Mexicana Minor

mexicana minor
mexicana minor
Salvia mexicana minor
mexicana minor

A smaller shrub in all aspects. Growing to approx. 1.2m-1.5m H, it grows upright with an open habit.
Leaves are smaller, dark green and cordate with a very pointed apex, with long leaf stems.

Flower heads are compact and smaller in length. Calyces are a mottled green / black with the typical  blue / purple corolla.
A good small shrub under deciduous trees, where it is protected from frosts and heat in summer.

‘Bill Whitehead’

Salvia mexicana 'Bill Whitehead'
Salvia mexicana 'Bill Whitehead'

An upright shrub growing to approx. 2 x 1.5m. This is a good compact dense shrub, possibly the progeny of M. minor.
Flower heads are large, long and dense, the calyces are a dark mottled colour, similar to M. minor and ‘Lolly’ but larger and denser. The corolla is a little darker than normal. Leaves are cordate but more of a normal green than the other forms, also showing the normal veination style and long leaf stems.

This Salvia was named for our oldest member Bill Whitehead (100yrs) – a fitting contribute to the person who helped to bring us all together so many years ago to encourage us to collect and grow Salvias

Mexicana ‘Kieren’

Salvia mexicana 'Keiran'

This is a new mexicana form, brought in via Qld, it is an upright form with dark  greenish / grey leaves, growing to 2mH.  Flowers are a paler blue / mauve.
This form grows well  in a sheltered sunny position. too much shade and the plant becomes lanky and will fall over more easily.
Frost tender, so needs protection from frost and the summer heat.

mexicana ‘Snowflake’

Salvia mexicana 'Snowflake'

An upright slender growing shrub to 1.5-2mH.White corolla with green calyces. When well grown, flowers can be profuse. It enjoys a sunny sheltered position with the roots well mulched. Frost tender.