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Sage Advice: How to prune Salvia

Photo of sage
Image of a Salvia ‘Pink Cadillac’ in need of pruning.

By Taylor Lewis, nursery manager

Fall is a wonderful time to enjoy Salvia greggii and microphylla. Most of the questions I get asked about Salvia are in regards to pruning.

“When to prune” or “How to prune” or even “Can I prune”?

photo of sage
Salvia g ‘Violin Music’

“How do you know it needs pruning” you ask? I realize that the bush looks fine up top. it’s nice and green and there’s even a few flowers, but if you lift up its kilt…

photo of sage kilt.
Beneath the green

You’ll find there’s only bare wood, leaves and the first of the seasons Oxalis pescaprae. What now? It’s time to be brutal. This Salvia is 3 feet around currently. Watch this…

Photo of sage after being pruned.
I bet I can go lower.

I used hand pruners and worked my way around and below the plant; now it’s about 8 inches. You’ll notice new growth emerging and I can trim the plant back further and remove half of those stems.

You should refresh prune your Salvia, at the very least, every other year for best performance and long term health. You can prune this hard every year without harming the plant. DON'T FORGET to fertilize after you prune with slow release, multi purpose fertilizer.

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