Pruning Salvias

CA KateJanuary 16, 2005

No, not another one .... well almost.

??? Has any one of you ever used a hedge trimmer to hard prune most of the Salvias almost to the ground. For some, like the leucophilas , it doesn't seem as if it would make a big difference.. nor the microphilias or greggii.... well to top them off anyway.

Reason I ask..... I was pruning this weekend and this activity made my hands soooo sore that I need an alternative to the clipper method for most Salvias. I have huge gardens and LOTS of Salvias that need hard pruning every January.

I'd truely appreciate any ideas you might have. Thanks!

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Westelle: I guess I'm confused. I thought pruning wasn't until the last sign of frost had come. Does each species have the same amount removed, i.e. above 3in. or so??

    Bookmark   January 16, 2005 at 10:05PM
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CA Kate

phoebe: Each Salvia variety has it's own set of pruning instructions. Some need hand pruning to each stem, while others can just be chopped-off, and still others can be sheared.

FYI: Spring arrives in CA's Central Valley in Feb. --- at least most years. This winter has been atypical since Nov. But, I won't prune the leucanthas (Mexican Sage) until it warms up into the 60s.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2005 at 11:44AM
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Westelle: sorry, don't mean to pick your brain but...
How can one learn how to prune the different varieties. Is there a book or a general rule of thumb one goes by. I am completely in the dark (obviously) regarding this. Thanks.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2005 at 8:53PM
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CA Kate

If there is a book on pruning Salvias I'm not aware of it.
In general:
>woody stems are pruned down to the lower set of new leaves -- ex. greggii, clevelandii;
>softer, brittle stems are pruned to the ground (or new growth if it's started already) -- ex. leucantha;
>where the leaves are basal (low to the ground in a circle) you only clean away dead leaves and remove any old stems -- ex. lyrata;
>shrubby, but not woody Salvias are pruned rather short -- down to lower new leaves -- ex. microphillia, involucrata, elegans, "Black & Blue".

I don't grow nearly as many as some who watch this Forum, so my advice may be somewhat limited. Anyone else wish to add to this very general advice?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2005 at 10:59PM
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I planted "Victoria blue Salvia" last year and it was just beautiful. I thought this was a perrennial, so I just left the plant as is. Now, I don't know how to prune it. I do not see any new growth. Should I wait until I see new growth before pruning it?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2005 at 5:37PM
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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

Please wait until you see new growth. I use the `asparagus' rule to trim Salvias. Bending the stem until it snaps (towards the outer end) will reveal the approximate area where the transition of the woody growth to new green growth is. This is also the point where cuttings are taken.

I treat shrubby woody stemmed sages like gregtgiis and microphyllas that form twiggy, woody growth like raspberries or roses. Definitely do not cut these to the ground.

Cutting to the ground is only good for those sages that form short stolons underground and send up new shoots, like sinaloensis, glechomiifolia, leucanthas, some microphyllas, guaraniticas, and others. If the plant was rooted and set into the ground with no nodes beneath the soil line, it will not send up shoots in any case. You can often tell this has happened when there is a thick trunk coming from the soil, and the first node has a multitude of stems coming from it. Cut that boy off, and you have a dead plant.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2005 at 9:07PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

OK I have another question with regards to pruning. my Salvia G. Black & Blue is overwintering in my living room. it went somewhat dormant for a while but then last month started growing again and had put on about 2-3 ft on some stems. well as you can imagine it was beginning to get a bit out of hand so I did cut back the tallest stems yesterday and brought it back down to about 3 ft. overall. it has some new growth emerging also. should I have cut it back harder or left it alone until I moved it back outside which will probably be another 2 1/2 months here in my zone 6?

Niagara Falls, NY

    Bookmark   February 1, 2005 at 7:03AM
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CA Kate

I think I would have cut it back more.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 1:24PM
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Bringing it up again for questions about cutting back greggiis!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 4:59PM
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I have nemerosa blue salvias that are in need of deadheading/pruning. I have been just snipping off the old blooms and obviously I am not pruning in the correct place. Can Someone please tell me exactly where I need to cut for nemerosa?


    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 10:57AM
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According to Betsy Clebsch -

"After the flowers [of nemerosa] are fertilized and seeds begin to mature, you should prune stems to two active leaf nodes to encourage branching and repeat blooming.

"Plants may be pruned to crown before winter comes, and if temperatures fall to the teens (-10C) or below, protect them with conifer boughs to prevent heaving."


    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 8:25AM
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louisiana_girl(8Central La.)

I am new to growing Salvias and I want to make a bed on the north side of house that has like an overhang from the house extending about 4 ft out and 24 ft long.It will get morning sun and a little in evening.What salvias can I put here that does not require full sun?Would I need to make a raised bed for good drainage?Thanks for any advise or any help .
louisiana girl

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 12:33AM
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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

You are in my floral zone (8), where Salvia mexicana and involucrata/puberula do very well ubder these conditions. They also do well in the same conditions in Baton Rouge, where the soil is on the sandy side. Raised beds will help if the soil is heavy and does not drain well.

Other sages that do well are guaraniticas, reglas, microphyllas and their hybrids, darcyi, madrensis, iodanthas (these may need some protection from frost.) Once you have a feel for your microclimate, I'd try greggiis as well.

If you can collect seed or have a cold frame or unheated sunny porch, you can try S. miniata and cardinalis. These are not hardy but are very rewarding with lots of red flowers once they take hold. Miniata is the easier of the two.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 9:42AM
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louisiana_girl(8Central La.)

Thanks for your answer.The space needs filling in and Salvias and sage are so pretty-----what better way than this.
louisiana girl

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 11:49AM
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