Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Plant Portrait - Biennial Clary



There is only one drawback to this plant (Salvia sclarea turkestanica):  it is biennial. It germinates and grows one year and, the second year, it reaches maturity, blooms and dies. I grew it for the first time last year and it turns out to be a stunning plant.
It is not attacked by any diseases or insects. In fact it attracts many pollinators. It is easy to grow and requires no special treatment. It is big, but it does not need staking. In spring its large leaves are attractive, and later on it gets completely covered with flowers for at least two months.




Biennial Clary (Salvia sclarea turkestanica)




Even before it starts flowering, the foliage is particularly attractive


When the flowers eventually come out in late spring, (technically they are bracts rather than actual flowers) they are almost white. In fact there is a cultivar of this plant called 'Vatican White' whose flowers stay white.


As the summer progresses, the bracts expand, and the flower spikes get larger and larger, and the colour turns to a light lavender.



Eventually there is a touch of blue added, and the colours intensify to produce the lavender cloud effect.



It is easy to grow from seed. However, if you want to always have it, you need to start seeds every year (each year, plant seeded the previous year will bloom). This is no doubt the reason the plant is not more common.
It looks like it is going to continue blooming for quite a while, and there has been flowers out since early June. I certainly intend to collect seeds later in the year and plant them next spring. The plants I have blooming this year (there is about five plants in the clump) came from seeds I got in a seed exchange.
For those who are not yet convinced of its value - the plant is reputed to slow down the human aging process (unfortunately, how it does that does not seem to be mentioned anywhere).

34 comments:

  1. I grew this once too, but then forgot to sow seeds the following year. I must try again as it is a lovely plant with a beautiful flower. Some people don't like the smell, maybe I'm peculiar, but I rather like it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many people mention the smell. Some like it, others don't. Unfortunately, I cannot smell it myself. I don't have much of a sense of smell.

      Delete
  2. It does look lovely - does it make a good cut flower?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not tried cutting it but I think it would be a good cut flower. When you see the stems and leaves, you realize it is a sage. It should last like other sages.

      Delete
  3. It's a star plant, Alain, and you've combined it beautifully with the poppies. I should really grow it again especially as insects are mad about it too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is the problem with biennials. It is easy to forget to seed them and first thing you know you have lost it.

      Delete
  4. You have a lovely clump, and as personaleden comments, beautiful with the poppies. I grew it years ago, but haven't been persistent in keeping it seeded in the garden. To Sue's question, it was a flower-arranger who first recommended it to me. It was one of her favorite plants for filling out large bouquets for tabletop centrepieces.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can see that a big bouquet of it would be attractive.

      Delete
  5. A lovely plant. Could it self seed?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope it does so I won't have to start it again.

      Delete
  6. Oh my goodness Alain !
    That is one gorgeous plant ... I haven't read mush about it or seen such a nice picture of it before .. too bad it is a biennial .. I find that hard to plan for in my garden. It certainly is a looker though !
    Joy : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is nice isn't it? It is true that biennial can be more difficult to manage given that there is a full year with no flower.

      Delete
  7. I love this plant. I find it seeds in my garden and pops up here and there but never enough to be a nuisance. The Edwardians used to call it ' Hot Housemaid' because of its smell. You couldn't call it such a thing nowadays; it would be considered offensive on so many levels. I suppose housemaids then were in no position to take offence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What an interesting tit bit of information. No one was around to fill up bathtubs for these poor housemaids! I am glad several people say it selfseeds.

      Delete
  8. Interesting plant Alain, unfortunately Salvias don't do very well with me, too damp and not enough sun, but I am tempted to try this one even if I have to grow it in a container.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So the conditions in ours gardens are just about opposite. Here it is quite sunny and rather dry.

      Delete
  9. What a beautiful plant! If it's easy to grow from seed then I'll have to look out for it. It seems like it would fit in quite nicely in my garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your visit. It is easy to grow but finding the seeds might be slightly more difficult. Some mail order company would have them.

      Delete
  10. I grew this plant for several years after a friend gave me seeds. It does have a scent that some dislike. I never found that a problem. It would always self seed for me, but you need to be careful in the Spring not to disturb the seedlings when they are very small.
    It is an old-fashioned plant and had two interesting uses in the days of herbalists. A decoction of the leaves was used as an eye wash to have bright clear eyes. The leaves were also used as a rub on the cheeks of ladies wanting to look rosy cheeked.
    It is very tough and very drought tolerant. I must try it again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will try to save you some seeds Helen. I might see you this coming winter.

      Delete
  11. Hi Alain, the Salvia sclarea turkestanica) looks great and certainly makes its presence felt.
    Roche Fleurie looks like a wonderful place to live and I see in an earlier post you have great looking Orchids growing outdoors..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your visit Alistair. We do have great orchids outdoor but on the whole it is a hard place for most plants (dry in summer and flooded in winter). However with raised beds you can grow quite a variety of things. Many bulbs (daffodils) love it.

      Delete
  12. I never realized this was biennial. Does it attract pollinators like other salvias? I like how big and gentle it is. Your clump looks fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I must have known it was biennial when I got the seeds but had forgotten about it. I was rather disappointed when I realized I would have to reseed it each year!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Haven't heard of this plant, but it looks like a beautiful Salvia.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I adore salvia and this looks like a winner, biennial or not. I must try some!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck. I should be able to put up with the heat.

      Delete
  16. Hi Alain, some of the plants I like the most are biennials, foxgloves, lunaria, campanula etc and it's a pain. I'm torn between sowing the seeds so I can have them, and forgetting about them because raising from seed is a lot of work. Biennials can self-seed in the garden and that's one thing I definitely want to try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fortunately, many people who have grown it mention that it self-seed. I hope it does!

      Delete
  17. Ma è bellissima la tua!!! Io l'ho provata per la prima volta quest'anno ma mi hanno detto che tagliandola forte dopo la fioritura è possibile prolungare la vita della pianta :) Proverò!

    Un saluto e complimenti per la salvia!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love this Salvia turkestanica, nice color! I had one blue but it disappeared because I forgot to sow new seeds :((
    Will try yours if get seeds here.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wow, that is a beauty! Does it need lots of sun, or can it handle heavy shade or dappled shade?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Lucky you to have gotten the seeds in an exchange! What a pretty looking plant!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for leaving a comment