Salvia Van Houttei
This shrubby salvia is reported to be a cultivar of Salvia splendens and is a very valuable plant, which flowers almost all year in a warm temperate climate. It has relatively large, tubular maroon flowers, held in a dark calyx. The plant grows to about 1m tall and as wide, and tolerates some shade. Sometimes it self-seeds, giving rise to slight variations in colour. It is quite frost sensitive; in colder areas prone to frost it would be best grown with overhead shelter from tall trees. As it flowers almost continuously (seeming to have a rest in mid-summer in my garden), it can be pruned progressively, by removing one woody stem on a regular basis through the year. Alternatively, it can be hard-pruned along with most of the shrubby salvias in late winter: it will quickly regrow. It looks particularly effective with blue flowers, such as Agapanthus cultivars, annual browallia (Browallia americana) and perennial asters; silver or plum foliage also combine well with the hue of its blooms. It can be grown in a large pot. It can get quite woody after a few years - replace with a cutting occasionally.
Recently, I acquired a form of this plant with a scattering of yellow spots on its leaves. It grows quite well in shade and can look effective grown nearby yellow Abutilon or yellow-flowered bromeliads. There is also a variant named 'Alan's Maroon' with more clustered flowers of a more intense and vibrant colour, which is always in bloom.
Flowers in February, March, April, May, June, July, August, October, November, December.
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