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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 get 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 conditions.  It is very rare in cultivation and seldom 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.  Its 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, it's AMAZING!  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 love the blooms!

Salvia dombeyi - Sacred Incan Sage

This Salvia does best between 40 and 80 degrees F (4-26C), with nights that are cool.  I don't think it will do well in areas that regularly get over 85 F (29C), especially if nights are warm (over 64F / 18C).  It must be protected from frost, since it may perish from freezing temperatures.  It likes dappled sun or some morning sun.  Protect it from strong sun exposure, and 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 evenly moist -- avoid letting it dry out.  Over 40% humidity is best.  In the right conditions, it's an easy plant.

Salvia dombeyi - Sacred Incan Sage

 

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