Salvia: Drought-Tolerant and Fuss-Free Color for the Garden

Salvia is a hardy plant that, once established, is drought-tolerant and carefree. She will push out tall spires of blooms beginning in early summer and create both height and texture in the garden. A relative of many herbs like mint, thyme, lavender, and sage, Salvia is a low-maintenance must for any garden.

There are over 1,000 varieties of Salvia with different heights, blooming times, colors, and growth habits. So be sure to make sure you read all the details about Salvia you choose to ensure she is the right variety for your garden plans. 

 Salvia for Every Garden Zone

Salvia is perfect for every garden that gets sunlight! It thrives in zones 5-9 for most varieties, but some others perform well down to zone 4 and up to zone 10. Salvia needs at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, making it a great choice to plant in and among roses. They can handle partial shade but expect slightly less flower production than Salvia planted in full sun.

Planting and Care

Choose the correct home for your new Salvia by placing it in a sunny location with well-draining soil. This is the perfect plant for containers and along pathways, as she charmingly spills out and over the defined borders. She also does well along the foundation of a house. Make sure to give your plants adequate spacing as they will spread as they grow. The goal is to provide each plant with adequate air circulation to prevent disease due to overcrowding.

Plant Salvia in the spring or fall.  Choose a sunny location with well-draining soil and dig a hole at least 1’ wide and at least 8-10” deep depending on the size of your plant. This will give the roots space to spread out. Insert the plant and fill the soil in around it, tamping it down to keep the plant upright. Water well until established and then only offer supplementary water during extended periods of drought or on especially hot days.

Since Salvia is not a heavy feeder, a small dose of fertilizer in spring will sustain her all season long. You can expect the plant to offer blooms once or twice a season, depending on the variety. Since she is a strong grower, if the plant becomes too large for the space, you can prune it back mid-season and she will likely offer a smaller, second flush of flowers. In the fall, prune your Salvia back to the ground before winter arrives.

To build your collection of Saliva, in early spring cut off a new stem of growth that is about 5-8“ long. Strip the lower leaves and rest it in a glass of water in a sunny location. New roots should sprout quickly and you can replant your new baby back into the garden for a whole new plant!

Five favorites for us this season are: Blue by You, Cardonna, Hot Lips, Amethyst Lips, and Black & Blue.