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Salvia variana

Salvia variana: is a tough hardy shrub to 1mH with lovely heart shaped leaves and tight whorls of cerise flowers in winter that will last well into Spring.

Salvia variana
Salvia variana

Salvia variana:  is a lovely small flowering Salvia for the winter months.

Flowers:  are semi tubular , cerise coloured. All parts of the flower are the same colour. The hood is straight with slightly pale colouring at the tip. A white stigma curls out of the tip.
The 2 side lobes are like side arms to a wide middle lobe, all curling down to open the throat area for any insects landing on that wide bottom lobe.

Flowers are in whorls of 6-8 flowers tightly packed at the top of the flowering stem, possibly 1 layer of flowers opening first and when finished, the second layer opens. This helps to make the flowering period last much longer. Unfortunately the flower becomes discoloured when it’s finished, which can spoil the overall look of the flowering stem.

Flowering begins in late autumn, continuing through winter until early spring. The tight whorls make them look spectacular clustered at the top of the stem, which appear well above the foliage to attract passing bees and pollinating insects.

Calyces: are mauve with lots of white hairs so they often look whitish. Very attractive especially when still in bud.  Lobes are ribbed and pointed. These eventually drop off the stem  after the flower have finished, leaving a bare stem,

Leaves: are lanceolate, almost heart shaped, with a blue/ grey hue to the top surface and pale beneath from lots of white hairs. Leaves are well fissured to channel any moisture  collected down the leaf and stem towards the roots. Texture may look rough, but quite soft to touch. All stems are well clothed.

Salvia variana:  is a lovely small winter flowering shrub.

Not all winter flowering Salvias are tall with huge flowers. There are a number of others with smaller more subtle flowers that do well over the winter months.

This is a tough hardy plant for cold winter months and the hot dry summer season.  It is frost and cold hardy. Best grown in a full sun position on well drained soils, but most soils should suit this gorgeous showy Salvia very well .

It has a naturally shrubby habit, but if regularly clipped it will form a lovely rounded shape that can be used as a feature, even a series of mounds look very effective in a garden.

This mounding habit can also be used for protection of other smaller plants in winter and in summer from drying winds. It  looks very attractive in a perennial garden and with other small shrubs.  As a lot of perennials are cut down for winter, so this gorgeous small shrub will stand out with it’s cerise flowers, so the bed doesn’t look as empty.

At the end of winter, when most of the flowers have finished and looking a bit straggly, its time to give the shrub a clip. It can be clipped to a rounded shape, rather than pruned down.  Feed well and mulch, feed again in summer when most of the new growth has appeared, top up the mulch to keep the root area cool during the hot dry summer season.

Propagation: can be tricky, is usually by tip cuttings from new shoots during spring and summer.