How to grow great Salvias
Salvia care and pruning depends on the variety a little, however generally these are a low maintenance plant once established. It really depends on the variety and how they flower. Some shoot the flowers from basal growth. You can almost tell when they need pruning by looking at the base of the plant. It will be trying to send out new shoots.
Others are more woody or twiggy, and are simply pruned back by 1/3 each year.
You can divide Salvia up into 3 main groups :
- Greggii, Microphylla and other twiggy species.
Generally these salvias are ‘twice pruned’. Once in autumn, and again after flowering in mid summer. They are cut right back to the ground each time.
- Nemorosa, Superba and Sylvestris
This group is more or less pruned back by 1/3 in autumn to winter.
- Leucantha and Mexicana.
These are generally cut back to ground level in winter.
Generally regarded as easy plants to grow, with a little extra care, your Salvias can perform extra well. Often called sages, this term usually refers to the culinary varieties. Salvia are plants that are to be admired for both the flowers and the foliage as well as for their uses in the kitchen.
The care steps outlined are for ‘most’ garden type salvias, but not all. Some species are actually very difficult to grow, especially some of the large soft leafed varieties.
Five steps to fantastic Salvias.
- Choose a sunny position, Salvias love sun and grow best in full sun. NOTE. Some Salvia species will grow and flower in light shade.
- Choose a well drained soil, Salvias do not like wet or clay soils, especially in winter.
- Deep water during long hot summer spells, the rest of the year they require little to no extra water in all but the driest areas.
- Prune from an early age. Pruning encourages a dense bushy habit and more flowers. You can usually prune in early spring to tidy up, as soon as new growth begins. And then again in late summer after the main flush of flowers to promote a second flush of flowers.
- Although Salvias are not a really hungry plant, they will perform better in a good soil with some fertilizer in spring and again in early autumn. Use a slow release type.
Over time, most Salvias will form a large, these clumps can be divided every 3 – 4 years to maintain health and provide more plants.
And finally, mulch around plants to maintain a cool root run and keep down weeds.
Salvias can provide flowers for many months of the year, with nearly 900 species they will flower at different times. They attract birds to the garden, both for the nectar and the seeds.