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Salvia patens

Salvia patens: is a herbaceous half hardy bushy perennial, 30 -90cmH, liking a sunny position with magnificent blue, pink or white flowers in summer.

Salvia patens
Salvia patens

Salvia patens: is a much sort after plant with it’s huge dynamic blue flowers.

Flowers: are a falcate type, being all shades of blue from royal, electric, smokey, through to baby and pale blue. But not only blue , but mauves, lavender, pale pink and white forms are also found.

The flowers themselves are large, being approx 6-7cm long. The hood is long ( approx 5-6cm) and narrow, sometimes fairly straight, with the top of the hood appearing curved and covered with soft hairs. There is a huge opening space between the hood and the lower lobes, to give easy access to bees, insects and small honeyeaters.

The 2 side lobes are long and narrow, being folded back to open the flower. The middle lobe has a long landing area before expanding into the”skirt” of the lobe. This can be slightly divided,  providing more width to the lobe.

These flowers have an interesting beeline with a series of white narrow arrows pointing towards the throat area, indicating which direction to proceed.

When the flower has just unfurled, the middle lobe is cupped, to hold a drop of moisture and to indicate that the flower is available. When the flower has been visited a number of times or been pollinated, the middle lobe begins to hang down, indicating to the bees not to bother visiting.

Flowers appear in late spring, continue through summer and into autumn. The flower stems can often  reach 10-20cm long in regular intervals til the top bud is reached.
Flowers are usually appear opposite each other on a green stem with long thin bracts beneath. These stay until the flower is finished.

Calyces: are green, narrow, slightly hairy with long white or clear hairs along the ribs. the lobes are pointed with the tips often curled out and under. These stay when the flower is finished, turning a straw colour over time.

Leaves: are an interesting shape, almost like a lance with a truncated bottom and pointed blunt tip. Colour is usually a bright grass green with small clear hairs on both surfaces, giving them a slightly furry texture. Basal leaves are large but becoming smaller as they ascend up the stem, then becoming narrow stem leaves growing on the flower stem.

Salvia patens: is a lovely showy plant when in flower. Grow in a sunny sheltered position which is well drained. Although delicate looking, this plant is surprisingly tough for mild summer conditions. Either grow in a mixed border or in large pots – you can find them in spring and watch for snails and slugs, they won’t be accidentally trodden upon.

Plant with other white or pale coloured perennials that will compliment the bushiness of the plant. Flowering should continue all through the summer.

In Autumn after most of the flowering is finished, cut down the flower stems and clean up the base, before the plant ‘goes down for winter’, mulch to keep the crown warm during the cold winter months.

If grown in pots, now is a good time to repot, replenish the soil and check the drainage S. patens is notorious for not reappearing in spring. When it does appear, feed well and top up mulch to keep the root area cool during summer.

Propagation: either by seed, sown in early spring or by side shoots or cuttings taken in summer.

Note: Not always available.