Salvia puberula: is a herbaceous perennial, 1.2-1.5m H with aromatic leaves and globes of cerise pink flowers in autumn for a sunny sheltered position.
Salvia puberula is an unusual member of the “involucrata group” that only grows to 1.5m H, producing only a small knob and is winter dormant.
Flowers: are tubular, cerise with a fat tube, a small fat hood covered with cerise hairs and all the small bottom lobes are curled under to open the throat area which is a pale pink to white colour. This colouring acts as a beeline to attract insects to crawl into and birds to penetrate further into the flower.
The flowers are tightly clustered in whorls of 4 flowers on either side of a green stem. As there is a knob holding more flowers, the flower head is always clustered with tubular flowers that seem to be parted in the middle by this small round knob.
Flowers are seen in early autumn at the end of tall single stems 1.2-1.5m H. These are held above the foliage to attract passing birds and pollinating insects.
Calyces: are green, well ribbed with each lobe having a long pointed tip. If not pollinated, each flower falls off leaving a short green flower stem.
Leaves: are a broad cordate shape, with a long pale petiole, mid green with a blunt tip. Veins are easily seen, a covering of fine hairs can be seen on the surface, smooth beneath. Often there are broad stem leaves situated beneath the flowers.
Salvia puberula is loosely grouped with the other “involucrata ” Salvias because it has a knob, but the flowers don’t develop into a long stem of flowers, they remain in a globe at the top of upright flower stems.
Unfortunately the flowering is fairly short compared to may others, but the leafy stems add an elegance to the plant making this a very useful addition to the garden.
Although S. puberula can form a clump, it does have a tendency to move forward to the edge of the bed, but doesn’t seem to grow or spread elsewhere.
Grow in a sunny protected position from wind with other leafy shrubs. The back of a mixed border is an ideal position for this plant with perennial growth. Plant at the back of low shrubs or groundcovers to act as a pretty backdrop.
In Autumn, after the flowers have finished, cut back old stems, clear away any debris, feed lightly and mulch to keep the crown and roots warm during the cold of winter.
Place a marker in the position of the crown so it isn’t accidentally dug up or trodden upon.
Just before the new shoots appear in spring, feed well and top up mulch to keep the roots cool during the hot summer season.
Propagation: usually from tip cuttings in late spring/ summer or from rooted stems.
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