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Welcome to the CountryLife Gardening Blog, written by our horticulturist to provide you with the best tips & advice for all things gardening!  We have been shortlisted for Best Lifestyle Blog in the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016 Company Category. 

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Hot lips in the garden

by CountryLife Gardening | Jul 02, 2015

Who doesn't love some deep red hot lips in the garden? But before anyone starts thinking I have a passion for wearing red lipstick while gardening, I of course am talking about a plant.

Salvia 'Hot Lips' is a plant which is proving very popular in gardens at the moment and one which could work very well in many more gardens around Ireland. As you can see from the picture of Salvia 'Hot Lips' below you could not get a more perfect name for this plant.

The white and lipstick red flowers do resemble bright red lips at the end of each flowers. These interesting flowers are one of the main selling points for the plant. They appear in large numbers from the middle of June right through to the end of October or first frost.

Salvia ‘Red Swing’ is a very similar variety to ‘Hot Lips’ but its flowers are entirely red in colour

Salvias are an ornamental plant which comes from the same family as sage. While many may be familiar with the more compact form of salvia which is commonly used as summer bedding for hanging baskets and containers, the ornamental forms such as ‘Hot Lips’ grow to a very good size and can be used effectively to fill in a blank space in a flowerbed. ‘Hot Lips’ will grow to around 1.5 meters tall with a spread of about one meter. When planted in groups of about three the plants will knit together to form a great bank of summer colour.

Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ is of course just one variety in a very large group of plants that you get. Salvia ‘Red Swing’ is a very similar variety to ‘Hot Lips’ but its flowers are entirely red in colour. This variety also grows slightly smaller than ‘Hot Lips’ but just slightly. We have some great examples of this variety in store at the moment which has come from Tully Nurseries in Dublin.

Salvia ‘Patens’ is a fantastic royal blue colour

Those looking for something that isn’t red in colour Salvia ‘Patens’ is a fantastic royal blue coloured variety which is one of the few truly blue coloured flowers that you can get for the garden. As you can see from the photo it is a deep royal blue which will easily stand to attention in a flowerbed or make a great specimen plant on a patio for the summer.

Salvias are classed as half hardy plants which means they can withstand most of what Irish winters will chuck at them. In moments of extremely bad frost, like other plants in the garden, some of the more tender salvia will benefit from being wrapped in protective fleece.

When it comes to planting salvia they like full sun and just like its relation sage it prefers almost Mediterranean soil conditions so soil which is very free draining. In my opinion the motto ‘Treat it mean, keep it keen’ works well for these plants. It seems to do better with slightly less water than other plants in the garden and irregular feeds.

In terms of pests these plants are not generally affected by many which could be thanks to their scented leaves. As with herbs the scent given off by the plants tends to act as a deterrent for insects. It is an added bonus for gardens as salvias have a very nice almost citrus smell to them.

Written by Malachy

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Like what your reading - then why not nominate us for the Irish Blog Awards 2015. #bloggies2015

Malachy's Bio 

I have been gardening since I was 5 years old when my mother gave me a part of our garden as my own. I have studied horticulture in the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin and was a winner in the young horticulturist of the year competition. I have worked in Several plant nurseries and garden centers such as Mount Congreve in Co. Waterford. My special interests are plant propagation and Cacti!