Salvia splendens

16 Sep

Salvia splendens Flower (08/09/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Salvia splendens Flower (08/09/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full Sun to light shade

Flowering period: Summer to autumn

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 1.5m

Eventual Spread: 1m

Hardiness: 10b, 11

Family: Lamiaceae

Salvia splendens is a tender, clump forming, herbaceous perennial. Its dark green leaves are ovate with a pointed tip and entire margins and up to 7cm long. Its stems are square and erect. Its red flowers are typical of the Lamiaceae family, tubular, up to 5cm long and appear in dense, erect terminal racemes.

Salvia splendens, commonly known as Scarlet Sage, Lee’s Scarlet Sage or Tropical Stage, is native to parts of Brazil.

The etymological root of the binomial name Salvia is derived from the Latin salvare, meaning to ‘save’ or ‘heal’, in reference to its historical use as a medicinal plant. Splendens is from the Latin meaning ‘brilliant’.

Outside of its hardiness zone the landscape architect may find dwarf varieties of  Salvia splendens, such as ‘Vanguard’, useful as a summer bedding plant, providing a mass of intense red flowers over the summer months. Within its hardiness zone it may be useful as part of a loud mixed herbaceous planting scheme.

Ecologically, Salvia splendens is attractive to pollinating insects.

Salvia splendens (08/09/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Salvia splendens (08/09/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Salvia splendens ‘Vanguard’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993 and Salvia splendens ‘Van-Houttei’ in 1996.

Salvia splendens prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil. It will not tolerate wet soils.

Salvia splendens requires little maintenance during the growing season. Old flower spikes may be removed to promote additional flowering. At the first frost plants may be removed.


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