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Salvia karwinskii Redsprite

Salvia karwinskii ‘Redsprite’:  is a medium to tall upright bushy shrub with brushes of red flowers in winter. Enjoys a sunny position.

Salvia karwinskii 'Redsprite'
Salvia karwinskii ‘Redsprite’

Salvia karwinskii ‘Redsprite’: is a smaller shrub than the parent with red flowers.

Flowers: are thin tubular, red with a small hood and bottom lobes.
The furry hood has a very pale white line down the middle which acts as a beeline, this corresponds with the more prominent  white beeline at the throat. The white stigma is curled back over the hood.

Both the bottom middle lobe and side lobes are small and are all  curled under to show the white beeline and to open the throat to allow small birds with long beaks enter the flower for the nectar and to allow bees to crawl in.

Flowers are held in a complex set of layered whorls of 4-6 flowers, with some flowers opening now whilst others will appear when the first lot are finishing. This will continue until all the flowers in the layers have opened.

These whorls are set at regular intervals along  a green slightly hairy flower stem, often reaching 30cm long. The flowering stems are held way above the foliage to attract passing birds and insects.

The complex set of whorls allows the flowering to continue for some months, from mid winter through to early summer.

Calyces: are green, often with pink/ red tips. The  more exposed sides are coloured pink. Each lobe is long and thin  with especially pointed tips. Ribs and small glandular hairs are clearly seen. It is the glands within the calyx  that make the flower clusters, fragrant with a pleasant pungent smell.

After most flowers have finished and fallen, the calyces also drop off, just leaving a bare flower stem.

Leaves: are large, more  green than the parent. Surfaces are velvety with soft hairs on both surfaces. A broad cordate/ lanceolate shape. Veins are indented, showing white beneath. Often  the leaf petiole is  covered  with soft white hairs. Small saw shaped crenations are seen along the margins.
New stems are  covered with soft white hairs.

Salvia ‘Redsprite’: is a very useful upright bushy shrub  for the middle of the bed, to act as a focal point or as a filler shrub. Positioning at the back of the bed can act as a background for smaller shrubs and perennials.

Like it’s parent, it is a tough hardy plant, growing well during the cold winter months with frosts and through the hot dry summer months, although it does grow better if protected from tooo many heavy frosts which will spoil the  leaves.

Pruning should be after the main flowering has finished. Cut away the old  stems, leaving the new growth to take their place.

Feed and mulch well to keep the root area cool during the hot summer months.

Propagation: is usually by tip cuttings taken anytime of year.