Salvia karwinskii

Salvia karwinskii

Salvia karwinskii: is a tall upright shrub 3-4mH with trusses of watermelon pink flowers in late winter till summer. Enjoying  a sunny protected position.

Salvia karwinskii
Salvia karwinskii

Salvia karwinskii is one of the parents to many of the S. involucrata hybrids.

Flowers: are fat tubular, a watermelon pink colour 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 brownish 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/late winter through to early summer.

Calyces: are initially green but gradually colour up to an olive green/brown colour, especially on exposed sides. Each lobe is long and especially pointed, often curling back slightly. 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,  a grey green colour,  velvety with soft hairs on both surfaces. A broad cordate/ lanceolate shape. Veins are indented, showing white beneath. Often  the leaf petiole is  pink with soft white hairs. Small saw shaped crenations are seen along the margins.

Salvia karwinskii is  a very useful tall Salvia for a sunny position.  As this Salvia begins in mid to late winter and continues until early summer, it is a great show of flowers for a long time, attracting loads of small birds.

The leaves and calyces are fragrant which is released when brushed against whilst walking past. As this S. karwinskii is a large bushy shrub, it should be planted at the rear of the bed, but close enough to bush against wayward branches to enjoy that fragrance.

As the leaves are grey , they are able to tolerate frosts and a sunny position  much more than many of the other large leaf Salvias, showing that it is a tough hardy shrub for those more open positions.
Plant with other tall bushy shrubs that enjoy  similar growing conditions.

Pruning: can be done at about Xmas time when most of the flowers have finished  and the shrub may need to be neatened  with the old spent flower stems removed.

Cut large old stems down to a new shoot, which should be appearing before the plant is pruned down. Clean out any dead, twiggy stems, or any cross stems. The new stems should be strong new upright growth. Feed and mulch to keep the root area cool over the hot dry summer season.
Although S. karwinskii is tough and hardy, it does benefit from  a good occasional soak during the dry summer months.

Propagation:usually from tip cuttings from hardened new growth at any time of year.

 

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