This magnificent sage will grace your garden with its hot blue flower spikes and neat foliage that has fall color. The roots are bright red and are loaded with tanshinone, a molecule known to quicken the blood. This herb is on the top ten list of herbs prescribed in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).
You can dig up the plant during dormancy and remove the largest of the roots and divide the crown if there are side shoots, then replant the main crown back in the same hole after adding some compost. Remember to replant an inch or two above the main soil line for good measure. Plant offshoots in pots and protect from hard frost. Press crown in place FIRMLY to ensure soil contact.
Common name: Danshen
Botanical name: Salvia miltiorrhiza
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Scarification/Stratification: Rub seed gently against medium grit sand paper before sowing.
Hardiness: 10 F
Sow temp/season: 70-85 F spring or fall.
Sow depth/spacing: Barely cover with soil, press in firmly, then sprinkle layer of coarse sand or pumice. Sow in pots and keep moist and give some sun.
Germination time: 14 days and ongoing.
Final spacing: 18 inch final spacing.
Final height/spread: 3 feet high with a 3 feet spread.
pH range: 6.0-7.5
Soil type: Fertile and well drained.
Nutrition Loves compost rich in Phosphorous such as fish bone meal or shrimp shells.
Drainage: Keeping the crown dry ensures success.
Water requirement: Is drought tolerant, but reliable deep waterings make for big roots. It’s the roots you want.
Sun: Full sun to part shade.
Time to maturity: Will flower in the second spring and ongoing.
Hilling: None needed but a good bit of mulch for winter keeps things proper. Pull back as plants emerge in the spring.
Suckering: Will divide from the crowns.
Propagation: Sowing seed in minimum of 1.5 inch pots in spring through late summer or crown division in late winter.
Hybridization: Will hybridize freely, so plant other sages a minimum of 300 feet for seed purity.
Uses: The root is processed into a most powerful heart tonic. Harvested fall through late winter, dried or used fresh for teas, tinctures and encapsulation.