Salvia mexicana 'Bill Whitehead'

Salvia mexicana ‘Bill Whitehead’

Salvia mexicana ‘Bill Whitehead’: is  a medium to tall bushy shrub 1.5-2.5mH with trusses of purple flowers and dark calyces in autumn and winter.

Salvia mexicana 'Bill Whitehead'
Salvia mexicana ‘Bill Whitehead’

Salvia mexicana ‘Bill Whitehead’ was named after the founder of the Salvia Study Group.

Flowers: are long ,tubular and purple. Both the hood and bottom lobes are approx the same length. Hood is narrow, straight or slightly curved with a faint pale stripe on top which corresponds with the bee line around the throat area.
The 2 side lobes are narrow and rolled back to open the throat area. The middle lobe is also rolled back with a deep indentation along the middle; this might act as a bee line towards the throat.

Flowers are held in whorls of 4 flowers in compact clusters at the top of the flowering stem. This is held above the foliage to attract passing birds and insects.

Each flower is opened to allow small Honey eaters access to the nectar further down the tube. Bees and other pollinating insects also visit these flowers.  The main flowering time is autumn through to winter.

Calyces: are green with dark brown/purple mottling over the whole calyx. when closed, the bud is a pointed flat shape with a small green bract beneath, that falls off when the flower begins to open.
Each lobe is ribbed, not hairy and quite pointed. The exposed sides are more mottled and coloured than the underneath.
These fall off when the flowers are finished, leaving a green stem.

Leaves: are a rhomboid to cordate shape with the distinct mexicana veinage. Most have a petiole, a bright green colour, shiny with a small elongated point. Most stems are well clothed.

Salvia mexicana ‘Bill Whitehead’ is one of the earliest mexicana to flower. It makes a wonderful display of masses of purple flowers in their dark calyces.

Plant with other bright pink, red, yellow or white flowering shrubs. Position either at the back of a small bed or in the middle of a larger bed with small shrubs and perennial in the foreground.

Being frost tender, it does need protection from deciduous trees and other surrounding shrubs; It is however quite cold tolerant, more so than some of the  other varieties. This shrub is fairly tough during the summer season if well mulched,  but appreciates some suplimentry watering.

Propagation: tip cuttings can be taken when new growth emerges.

 

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