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Botanical Name: Salvia agnes
Salvia agnes is a small perennial shrub growing to 60 – 90 cm high and wide, although it will usually be smaller. It has a compact growth habit, with large, textured almost heart shaped green leaves. The stalks are green and may have a red blush near the tip, but as the floral inflorescence begins to form there is a noticeable colour change. Where the small floral whorls begin, there is a white sheen that develops into a pale mauve as it reaches the top of the spike. The tiny flowers are a bright mid blue to mauve and are held above the foliage on the tall upright inflorescences. They are very much like lavender flowers in the manner of appearance, especially before all the blooms are open. Flowers appear from spring through to autumn, ending when the first cool weather frosts appear.
The naming of salvia may present some confusion because ‘agnes’ is a designated species name, rather than a cultivar designation. It may be labelled Salvia ‘Agnes’ or Salvia agnes Epling, indicating that botanist Carl Epling (1894 -1968) named this plant. It is also sometimes called Mexican Blue Sage, which is a name more often used for Salvia chamaedryoides. Salvia agnes is also claimed to be a synonym of Salvia lavanduloides, which has similar flowers in winter, but is not the same plant. Salvia agnes is a Mexican native that grows in the mountainous regions and it is closely related to other Mexican salvias.
Salvia agnes likes a protected sunny position, average water and well drained fertile soil. Protection at the base should be offered in warm seasons. This salvia is not considered cold tolerant and cuttings should be taken for the following year, if this salvia is to be planted in a very cold garden. It may occasionally set seed, but cuttings are more reliable as a means of propagation. It is a good container plant and can benefit from significant pruning after the flowering period.
The salvia family has over 900 members with an extensive history as culinary, medicinal and ornamental plants. Ornamental salvias have become collectors items, as gardeners try to find a place in their garden for each and every one. There are salvias that will suit every type of soil and climate. More information on the Salvia genus and Common Sage (Salvia officinalis) may be found on our Common Sage page.
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