Salvia superba 'Snowhills'

Salvia superba varieties

Salvia superba varieties: are small clumping herbaceous perennials 15-30cmH  with white, blue , pink & purple flowers in spring and summer.

Salvia superba varieties are generally smaller plants than S. nemorosa varieties.

Salvia superba varieties include:
‘Blue Sensation’ – a recent form of ‘Blue Queen’
‘Pink Sensation’ – a recent form of ‘Rose Queen’
White Sensation’  = ‘Snowhills’
‘Impact Purple’
‘Rose Rhapsody’
‘Viola Klosse’
x superba ‘Rubin’
x superba ‘Blue Marvel’
x superba ‘Rose Marvel’

Unfortunately during the breeding process over the years, the waters have become muddied, records lost and many varieties have been misnamed or placed with the nemorosa group of Salvias.The flowers are very similar, but the plants are generally smaller.

Flowers:  Colours can vary between, whites, pale pinks, mauves,  blues, purples and everything in between.
Flowers are all a small falcate type, with either a straight or curved hood. The 2 side lobes are small, either curved back to open the throat area or are sticking upwards. The middle lobe is large and mostly cupped to hold a drop of moisture for insects; this also acts as a landing place for any pollinating insects.
Most flowers have some markings or pale area around the throat area to act as a beeline to guide the insects further into the corolla.

All varieties are bee or insect pollinated and come in a variety of colours, accentuated by the colour of their calyces and bracts.

Inflorescences or flower stems are usually spikes of which there are quite a few to each plant.  Each spike may reach anywhere between 10-30cm or even 60cm for ‘Rubin’. The buds are very tight, gradually unfurling as the  flower opens.

Flowers are held in whorls of 4 flowers, evenly spaced , but tightly packed along the stem. Most of the stem being made up of flowers, which begin in mid spring, continuing throughout summer and may extend into autumn. These are a magnet for bees and insects.

Calyces: are small, ribbed with pointed lobes. Most calyces are usually 1 colour with the ribs being another colour, giving another colour dimension to the whole flower. A short wide coloured bract usually falls off when the flower opens, but may remain in one or two varieties. Calyces remain on the stem after the flower has finished even if not pollinated.

Leaves: are small, mostly lineal, some broader than others but all have a sharply pointed apex. Some of the X(crosses) e.g ‘Rubin’ and the “Marvel’ varieties have lobed or wavy leaves. Most are coloured  midgreen, with the midrib being prominent; most of the veining produces a rugose or marbled texture to the leaves.
Leaves have a small petiole and those travelling up the flower stem are sessile.
Plants of the superba group seem to create their basal clump before sending up the flower spike.

Being small Salvia superba varieties are ideal as a border or in mixed groups in a gravel garden or in low growing garden, rockery or even in large tubs. When in flower they produce a stunning show which act as a magnet for bees and other pollinating insects.

Originating from Europe, these plants have a short spring summer season. To get the best from these plants with their multiple flower spikes, then plant them in an open sunny position that is well drained.

Once established they are tough and hardy, proving to be relatively drought hardy, tolerating the summer season well.

Pruning: see Lambley Nursery notes on pruning .

Basically cut then down in early summer after the first flush of flowers, to create another flowering in autumn. By winter, they have finished and ready to go down. Cut off old stems, place a marker by the crown, so no one accidentally digs them up or walks all over them.

Clear away any debris, mulch to keep the crowns warm during the winter months. Just before the leaves begin to emerge again, give them a feed and top up the mulch  to keep the root areas cool during the hot dry season.

Propagation: usually by seed or by division of large clumps. Side shoots can be taken when the plants have emerged and growing strongly.


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