Salvia chinensis: is a small clumping Asian winter dormant perennial, 60cmH in flower, with loads of tiny purple flowers on a long stem in late spring and summer.
Salvia chinensis grows in forests and hillsides or scree plains.
Flowers: are small mauve falcate type flowers with a small straight hood, the stigmas exerted from the tip. The exposed tube almost gives the impression of being semi tubular. The whole flower is a mauve colour.
The 2 side lobes are small, curled back to open up the throat area. Again the middle lobe is small, slightly cupped when it first emerges, to indicate to pollinating insects that it is available for a visit. Two large white lines make up the beeline on the middle lobe to entice insects to explore the throat area and further into the flower.
Flowers are held in small whorls of 4-6 flowers in regular verticillatas along a tall green or coloured hairy stem. Most flowers are seen in early spring through to late summer, before it goes down for winter.
Calyces: Are small, green or often purple/ crimson coloured, well ribbed with small clear hairs along these ribs. Small green pointed bracts remain after the buds have opened. Calyces remain on the stem after the flowers have finished.
Leaves: are formed into a basal clump. Dark green, thin textured, lanceolate, often with one or two small lobes, a main midrib, entire edges and pointed tips.
These emerge in late winter, early spring, to create a rosette before sending up a flower stem.
Salvia chinensis is a small plant that is ideal to be grown in either a pot or en masse under a deciduous tree. When grown like this, they are stunning when in flower. If the stems are coloured, they make a wonderful contrast to the dark basal leaves.
Coming from high up the mountain from the forest floor, it prefers a semi shaded position in the garden or a sunny protected spot in a pot in a courtyard. Being only a small plant, it makes a perfect edging plant for a pathway. Grow with other woodland perennials that enjoy similar growing conditions.
In autumn when the flowers have finished, the leaves are looking tired, then it’s time to tidy the plants. Cut off any flowering stems, collect any seeds and clear away any debris around the crown. Mulch around the crown to keep warm over the cold months of winter. Place a marker to show the position of the crown – so it doesn’t get trodden upon or accidentally dug up.
In late winter early spring when the leaves begin to appear, feed well and top up the mulch to keep the root area cool during the hot dry months of summer.
Propagation: usually by seed sown in spring or small side shoots taken in summer.
Not always available.
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