Salvia involucrata spp

Salvia involucrata spp

Salvia involucrata spp: is a tall shrub 3-4mH with arching stems and brushes of watermelon pink flowers in early winter.

Salvia involucrata spp
Salvia involucrata spp

Salvia involucrata is one of the earliest  of the tall pinks to come into flower.

Flowers: are tubular, a watermelon pink colour with a small furry hood and a bottom lobe which is curled down and underneath. There is a small white beeline at the throat to attract bees and insects, but the major pollinators o these long flowers are small honeyeaters with long beaks. Flowering begins in autumn, continuing through winter into spring.

Calyces and Involucrote: The calyces are a deeper pink, ribbed with pointed lobes. The flowers are gathered in whorls of eight  with 4 flowers opening and 4 remaining in bud, so the flowering is staggered which allows the flowering to continue over a long period of time.

All the flowers are all standing upwards in the one direction along the stem NOT around the stem. As the all stems are arching, then all the flowers are facing upwards to allow birds and insect to enter the flowers more easily than from beneath the stem.

All involucrata hybrids have an involucrote, some large, some only very small. An involucrote is a knob of bracts ( the same colour as the corollas) full of more flowers. The small coloured bracts falloff as each whorl of flowers opens. This species has a large, fate pointed knob. In this way the flower head can extend to 15-20cm long.

Leaves: are a midgreen colour, broad lanceolate to cordate in shape with a long tapered tip. The upper surface is smooth with only the pink midrib showing clearly. Petioles are green and long.

Salvia involucrata spp is a parent to many of the hybrids and varieties.
It is a very old Salvia, one of the first involucrata’s to be promoted in the gardening sector as winter flowering.
Being a parent, it is often confused with some of the similar hybrids, but can be readily identified as it is the earliest to flower, the knob is compact and pointed and the finished flower head is very long.

Plant with other winter flowering shrubs and Salvias. The watermelon pink is vibrant enough to compliment and contrast with other pinks, purples and blue flowering shrubs.

Being very floriferous over a long time, it is very attractive to birds which seem to hang off the flowers and often break the stems. The Eastern Spinebill is the most successful in gathering nectar from the flowers.

Pruning: When most of the flowers have finished in spring, then is the time to prune these shrubs. DON’T cut down to the ground. the plant may go into shock and die. Rather cut the stems down to eye or waist  level and wait until new shoots appear. If cuttings are not wanted, then cut out the old canes and any dead or multi branched stems,  Leaving any new canes to regenerate the growth of the shrub. Shoots should appear on canes if taken down to 2-3 nodes, but they will NOT shoot from the first node.

As new growth can begin from the base area, often the clump can become too large in width. Dig out any unwanted new growth, keeping the clump neat and tidy.

Propagation: usually by tip cuttings from new growth  in spring and summer, about 10-20cm long that is semi hardened  so it won’t wilt too easily. Cuttings must be made through or just below the node as the stems are hollow and kept in a semi shaded area until rooted.

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