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Salvia dombeyi - Sacred Incan Sage

The beautiful Salvia dombeyi - the Sacred Incan Sage - holds the distinction of having the longest blooms of all 1000 Salvia species!  Its brilliant red flowers are 4 to 5 inches long, and hang from gorgeous, dangling clusters of burgundy bracts.  The plant comes from the cool mountains of Peru and Bolivia, where it may be extinct in the wild.  Because of its highland origins, it is said to be difficult to grow in warm areas.  It is very rare in cultivation and not commonly seen for sale.

Salvia dombeyi - Sacred Incan Sage

Salvia dombeyi is a perennial species with slender, vining branches that grow over 8 feet long here in San Francisco.  The heart-shaped leaves can get 5 inches long, and some of them are dropped each winter.  It has a scrambling habit and a somewhat lanky appearance, so it's not the most striking plant when it's not flowering.  But when it's flowering - OH MY GOSH!  The huge clusters dangle like party ornaments right around eye-level.  They are an intense shade of scarlet-red, and emerge a few at a time, for a prolonged show.  Hummingbirds go crazy around this plant!

Salvia dombeyi - Sacred Incan Sage

This Salvia does best between 40 and 80 degrees F (4-26 C), with nights that are cool.  I don't recommend it for areas that regularly get over 85 degrees F (29 C), particularly if nights are warm.  The plant must be protected from frost, as it may perish from freezing temperatures.  It seems to prefer being grown in the shade of another plant so that it gets around 50% sun.  Shade it from strong afternoon sun, and if you grow it in a pot, keep the pot shaded so the roots stay cool.  Give it some support with a trellis, arbor, or another plant.  Prune it each Spring to give it a bushier, tidy look.  It likes well-draining soil of good fertility that's kept consistently moist -- avoid letting it dry out.  Over 40-50% humidity is recommended.  In the right conditions, it's an easy plant.

Salvia dombeyi - Sacred Incan Sage

 

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