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How To Grow Salvia

May 17, 2022



In the plant world, Salvia is a huge group of plants that includes both hardy and non-hardy species, spring and summer bloomers, those that are just a foot tall, and others that can grow to be shoulder height. 

Although part of the mint family, they’re commonly known as sage plants, and the family includes the herb variety used in cooking. Some have pleasantly scented foliage so plant them near the edge of a path to enjoy their fragrance. They’re a magnet for butterflies, bees and other pollinators too, so make the perfect addition to a wildlife garden.

Annual & Perennial

Annual Varieties: Rockin’ salvias are generally considered to be annuals since they are expected to overwinter only in warm climates. People typically plant them in spring, compost them in late fall, and replant them the following spring. 

Perennial Varieties: Hardy perennial salvias can be cut back hard in spring or autumn. Half-hardy herbaceous varieties should be cut back in spring and, if you live somewhere very cold, overwintered in a frost-free place. 

Wait until spring to prune shrubby varieties, too. If you do it in autumn any new growth could be damaged by frost.

Salvia Sallyfun Pure White

How We Grow

Salvias need minimal TLC so they are a good choice if you like a plant that’s self-sufficient. Choose the sunniest spot in the garden if you want your salvias to thrive and reach their full potential. Plant in well-drained amended soil, or containers. Feed with a slow-release fertilizer, Osmocote®. Follow label instructions. Repeat flowering, and often self-cleaning, but trim to maintain better blooming and a tidy habit. Mulch 2″ to suppress weeds, retain moisture and protect against extremes of soil temperature.


Hummingbirds and butterflies love salvias’ tubular flowers and they’re adored by bees, too, so plant them if you wish to attract these pretty pollinators!

Fortunately, salvia does not tend to attract deer or rabbits. It is the distinctive, pungent odor of their leaves that acts as a repellent to garden pests.

Summer Jewel Pink Salvia
Dark Dancer Salvia


Loosen the soil to a depth of 12 inches, removing any large stones or roots. Mix in a 3-inch layer of compost to provide nutrients.

If planting in a container, add some grit to the compost to improve drainage and feed in spring. Plants grown in garden soil don’t need feeding.

Dig a hole twice the diameter of the container the plant is in.

Remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.

Salvias don’t like to be crowded. When planting in groups or mixing them with other plants in borders, space the plants 1 to 3 feet apart, depending on the variety, to allow the air to circulate around them. 

Carefully fill in around the plant and firm the soil gently and water thoroughly.

Care Guide

Add a 2-inch layer of mulch around the plant to retain moisture and control weeds.

Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Salvia does not like excessive summer irrigation.

Salvia doesn’t need feeding during the season.

To encourage continuous blooms throughout the season, deadhead spent flowers periodically.

At the end of the season, leave flowers on plants to encourage reseeding (and to feed the birds).

Some develop woody lower stems with age; feel free to prune this.

After the first killing frost, cut stems back to an inch or two above the soil line. 

Divide perennial salvias every few years. The best time to divide is in early spring before new growth begins. Just lift, divide into clumps, and replant.

Every spring, apply a new thick layer of compost, and mulch again. 


The tall herbaceous varieties of salvia form nice clumps and can grow up to 3.3ft (1m) every year. The shrubby varieties of salvia grow much more slowly and are easily pruned to keep them in shape. The annual varieties tend to be small, growing to around 7.8in (20cm), while the perennials can get to 4.9ft (1.5m) tall

Bumbleberry Sage Salvia

MVG Annual Salvia Varieties

SalviaBlack and Blue
SalviaBodacious Rhythm & Blues
SalviaDark Dancer
SalviaEvolution Violet
SalviaGrandstand Purple
SalviaGrandstand Red Lipstick Pink
SalviaHot Lips
SalviaHummingbird Fire
SalviaLady in Red
SalviaMystic Spires
SalviaRockin Deep Purple
SalviaRockin Fuchsia
SalviaSalsa Purple
SalviaSentry Red
SalviaSkyscraper Pink
SalviaSkyscraper Dk Purple
SalviaSummer Jewel Pink
SalviaSummer Jewel Red
SalviaVictoria Blue

MVG Perennial Salvia Varieties

Salvia ‘Back to the Fuchsia’Salvia hybrid
Salvia ‘Bumbleberry’Salvia n.
Salvia ‘Bumbleblue’Salvia n.
Salvia ‘Colorspire Snow Kiss’Salvia n.
Salvia ‘Midnight Rose’Salvia nemorosa
New Dimension Rose Salvia

How to Divide Salvias

After several years, pruning and propagating overgrown perennial salvias will revitalize the plants. Cut the plants back, then dig them up and divide them into sections.

Insert a trowel into the soil around the drip line of the salvia plant. Dig straight down into the soil. Continue digging around the entire plant in a circle to sever any roots from the root ball.

Place a trowel underneath the root ball and press the handle down to raise the entire plant from the soil.

Loosen the soil on the root ball with your hands so you can see the roots. Loosen the roots from each other to divide the salvia into sections with two to three shoots each and several roots.

Wrap the divided sections in wet newspaper to keep the roots moist before planting them.