Salvia puberula

Salvia puberula: is a herbaceous perennial 1-1.5mH with terminal clusters of  crimson/cerise flowers in autumn.

Salvia purberula
Salvia purberula

Salvia purberula is one of the few medium sized species of Salvia that become dormant in winter.

Flowers: are fat and tubular, a light crimson/ cerise colour. The hood is small, covered in crimson hairs with a faint white stripe in the middle. This is a guide for birds and insects and co insides with the white beeline area around the throat.
The bottom lob is turned under to allow full access to the throat area to allow birds easy access to the nectar.

Although this Salvia has a knob of bracts which hold more flowers, it is an unusual member of the Salvia “involucrata Group”. The knob divides the flower in half, with approx 8 or more flowers are seen on either side of the knob, rather than the flower elongating as is seen in the other varieties.

These flowers are held in a cluster of whorls of 4 flowers  that  are  bunched together to form a head of large tubular flowers, with buds and young fresh flowers appearing as the older flowers wilt and drop away.

Calyces: are primarily green, but becoming crimson coloured towards the tips of the  elongated pointed lobes. Each lobe is ribbed and hairy with clear hairs.
Calyces and leaf bracts drop off after the flowers are finished, leaving a long green flower stem.

Leaves: are lanceolate to cordate, a nice midgreen with soft velvety hairs on the top, pale beneath and crenations along the margins. Well veined with a  nice fragrance when crushed or brushed against. A distinct fragrance belonging to this Salvia.

Salvia purberula  is an interesting plant, becoming dormant in winter. It has perennial growth that seems to move in a forward direction, this growth habit is not problematic nor does it become a weed.

The flower clusters appear at the end of each flower stem. Although small and compact, the crimson colour of the flower can be very welcome in a bank of shrubs

Growing in dappled shade or a sunny protected position, Salvia purberula  enjoys being among other similar woodland plants. Plant with other blue or vibrant purples and white flowered perennials and open shrubs.
It can be part of a loose shrubbery at the back, of a low groundcover in the front of the bed.

In winter, after the flowers have finished, the leaves turn yellow, before the whole stem begins to fade. It is best to mark the crown, so as not to accidentally dig up underground stems, nor compact the soil by treading over the area.

Clean away old leaves and stems. mulch the crown area well to keep warm over the winter months. In late winter, early spring, just before the new leaves appear, feed well and top up mulch to keep the root area cool during the hot dry summer  months.
Although tough and hardy, supplementary water is always welcome.

Propagation: usually by tip cuttings during summer from the single stems. Underground stems may be dug up and potted up.

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