Salvia miltiorrhiza

Salvia miltiorrhiza: is a small Asian clumping herbaceous perennial 30-40cmH in flower, with mauve  flowers in  late spring to  summer,liking a protected sunny position.

Salvia miltiorrhiza
Salvia miltiorrhiza

Salvia miltiorrhiza is often known for it’s herbal medical qualities.

Flowers: are a falcate type, the whole flower is more or less the same colour of mauve, but occasionally a lighter shade can be found.
The hood is large and curved with a purple stigma exerted from the tip. The 2 side lobes are long sitting along side the middle lobe, but occasionally rolled back. The middle lobe is long with a wide frilly skirt, this either hangs down, which shows the insect that it has already been visited or is cupped; which can hold a drop of moisture and acts as a landing place for the insect.
The throat area is very open and wide, is often very pale or white, this colouring acts as a beeline to guide the insect further into the flower.

Flowers are held in whorls of 4-6 flowers, almost hanging down, then opening upwards to allow the insect access to the throat area. The whorls are situated along the green  flower stem at regular intervals in verticillatas often reaching 30-40cm long. These stems of flowers are held well above the foliage to attract passing  bees and pollinating insects.
As the plant appears in late winter, early spring, one or two flowering stems can be seen in late spring early summer and will continue to flower throughout the summer season.

Calyces: are a green brown colour, a few clear hairs along the ribs. The ends of the lobes are flared out.  Calyces face downwards, causing the corolla to extend outwards and face upwards to allow the insect access to the throat.
These turn brown  and fall off, but become straw coloured if pollinated, and remain until the end of the season.

Leaves: are a mid to dark green, usually in a simple pinnate formation of 2-3 lobes and a terminal lobe. Each lobe is rounded with small crenations around the edges.
These form a loose basal clump from which the flower stems arise. A few stem leaves can be seen, but these are small and few.

Roots: The  specific name miltiorrhiza means “red juice”, extracted from the root. These have herbal properties in the countries where it naturally occurs.

Salvia miltiorrhiza grows naturally on the forest floor or on rocky outcrops. Enjoying dappled shade or a sunny protected position, it does well under deciduous trees. Looks wonderful when grown en masse under the shelter of a tree.
Grow with other woodland perennials that like similar growing conditions, with a cool shady position, away from hot drying winds and the heat of the summer sun.

At the end of summer when most of the flowers have finished, collect any seed, cut off the flower stems, clear away any debris and prepare for the dormancy to begin. Place a marker by the crown so they are not accidentally dug up or trodden upon. Mulch well with compost, to keep the crown warm during the cold winter months.
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 summer months.  Supplementary watering is always welcome during hot spell .

Propagation: can be by seed or division of large clumps or tip cuttings of new stems or even slips from side shoots taken in summer.

Not always available



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