May 2022 Plant of the Month from our monthly newsletter:  Autumn sage, (Salvia greggii)

​Years ago, I purchased two “Hot Lips” Salvia from the Chico High Agriculture Department plant sale. They were in memory of a student who was hit by a driver while riding her bike. They have spread over the years, and this year I removed half of them and planted them elsewhere or composted them. I left half for my hummers, who love them. I will divide and split again next spring. I don't think you can kill them.

Perennial salvias (also known as “sage”) are mainstays of the midsummer garden border— blooming summer to autumn! Planted in the spring, these aromatic beauties are great for cutting and beloved by bees hummingbirds and butterflies—plus, they’re drought-tolerant! Part of the mint family (Lamiaceae), salvias appear as a colorful spike of densely-packed flowers with tubular blossoms atop square stems and velvety leaves. The common kitchen herb garden sage—Salvia officinalis—is actually a type of salvia; it’s a relative of the many ornamental species and has a few attractive ornamental varieties itself.  Salvia are heat- and drought-tolerant, making them survivors in the summer garden. They grow 18 inches to 5 feet tall, depending on the variety. Salvias of all types can be grown in containers, too.

How to Plant 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 a 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.

• Space plants 1 to 3 feet apart, depending on the variety.

• Carefully fill in around the plant and firm the soil gently.

• Water thoroughly.

  How to Grow Salvia

• 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 really 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 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 think layer of compost, and mulch again. 

Submitted by Member and Club Secretary Sue Delgardo