Salvia nubicola: a herbaceous perennial from Japan, 30-60cmH with broad hastate leaves and lemon yellow flowers in autumn.
Salvia nubicola is one of many yellow flowering Salvias from Japan that are naturally found in a woodland setting.
Flowers: are a falcate type with a large curved hood which opens slightly to allow a pale yellow stigma to protrude, pointing downwards. This usually brushes against the bee or insect as they enter the flower, thus helping with pollination.
The hood on this spp is often coloured pink/ mauve in finely clustered dots, often having pinkish hairs at the tip. The tube and the other lobes are all pale yellow. The 2 side lobes are folded back to open the throat area to allow better access for bees and other pollinating insects.
The middle lobe is elongated and often cupped to catch any dew for insects to drink as well. The edge can be slightly frilled, this also acts as a landing place for insects. The throat area is nicely marked with purple lines, making a prominent beeline that can be seen from above.
Flowers are held in whorls of 4 flowers, along a long green hairy flower stem. Each whorls are set at long intervals along the stem, these are held well above the foliage to attract passing insects.
Although flowers can appear in spring, but the main flowering period is in late summer/ autumn, just before it “goes down for winter”.
Calyces: are green, slightly hairy and often coloured along the prominent ribs. Each rib has a blunt point at the tip. They remain green after the flower has finished and will remain until cut off.
Leaves: are a broad cordate, slightly hastate shape. Mid green and well veined with serrated margins with small petioles. Long narrow leaf bracts often remain under the whorls of flowers even after they’ve opened.
Most of the leaves form a loose clump, with the leaves running up the flowers stems being sessile. All stems are well clothed.
Salvia nubicola is perfect grown in a woodland setting under a deciduous tree. As this species is taller than many of the other varieties, it is best planted in the garden in a dappled shade or a sunny protected position.
Plant with other small shrubs, bulbs and perennials that appreciate similar growing conditions.
When flowers have finished and the plant is “going down for winter”, collect any seed, remove old flower stems and tatty leaves. Clean away any debris, mark the position of crowns with a stake and mulch well to keep the crown warm during the cold months of winter.
In late winter, early spring, before the leaves appear, feed well and mulch to prevent snails and slugs and to keep the root area cool during the hot dry months of summer. Summer watering is always welcome, keeping the plant looking good during hot periods of the summer season.
Propagation: usually by tip cuttings/ new shoots taken in late spring before the flower stems appear. Seed is also an option, sowing fresh seed to get better results with germination.
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