Salvia patens: is an upright, bushy, herbaceous perennial, 20cmH with very large blue, pink or white flowers in spring and summer.
Salvia patens is difficult to keep each year as it is winter dormant and is not always reliable to come back in spring.
Flowers: are a large falcate type with a very large gap between the hood and the lower lobes.
The hood is long and slightly curved with small hairs covering the top. A blue or white stigma protrudes from the end looking like ” a snake ready to strike”. A very faint stripe is seen down the middle which is an indicator to insect pollinators from above. This usually corresponds with the beeline area around the throat.
Both side lobes are long and folded back to open the throat area. The middle lobe is long and large, often cupped to act as a landing place for insects as well as holding a drop of dew, again for any insects that land.
The bee line is seen as either flared white markings down the lobe or on other colours as line markings in the creases of the lobe. All of these markings are to guide the insects further into the flower.
Flowers are seen in late spring, through summer and early autumn in pairs at regular intervals along a green stem.
Although many of the flowers face downwards, all flowers are held above the foliage to attract passing insects.
Calyces: are green, slightly hairy with clear hairs, ribbed with pointed lobes. Most often long green thin bracts remain until the plant dies down in winter. When the flower is finished, the calyx withers unless holding seed. This then turns a straw colour and remains until the stem is cut down.
Leaves: are a bright green, broad lanceolate to ovate in shape, with clear hairs on the upper surface. Well veined but a thin texture. Soft crenations are seen around the margin. These will often colour on cool nights.
Salvia patens is a much sort after perennial with it’s large flowers. Liking a sunny protected position or dappled shade, it can grow well into a sizable bushy plant given the right conditions for water and fed regularly.
As there are a number of different colours from electric blue, to a paler blue, pale pink , mauve and white, these can all be grown together or as individual colours with other perennials liking similar growing conditions.
These plants do very well in mixed borders in a sunny area or under an open deciduous tree. Pots are another option for growing and showing off these beautiful large flowers. Of course pots can be moved about to maximise the showing off ability of the plant.
When most of the growing season is over, collect any seed in case the plant doesn’t come back up in spring, cut off the flower stems and tidy up old leaves. Mulch the crown to keep warm during winter and mark well if grown in the ground.
In early spring just as the leaves are beginning to show, fees and top up the mulch to keep the root area cool during the hot dry summer season.
Propagation: either seed sown in early spring or take tip cuttings during summer to increase the number of plants as well as ensuring there is are plants in case the parent doesn’t show the next season.
Not always available
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