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Hot Lips Salvias Pruning Guide: Tips for Healthy Growth

Summer garden could be clad in red and white Hot Lips Salvias flowers as long as its pruning and care fulfillment is done right. 

Generally, pruning of the Hot Lips is generally done in early to mid-summer to help the plant grow bushier. However, you may also chop the diseased or weaker parts right after the winter to facilitate new and healthier growth. 

Follow along to learn why, when, and how to prune your Sage microphylla. 

Why Prune Hot Lips Salvias?

Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’  is a long-blooming evergreen shrub perfect for sunny, hot, and dry areas. 

The bushy Hot Lips Salvia grows to about 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 cm), spreads similarly, and soon outgrows its space.

When left unattended, the lance-shaped, dark green foliage and dual-colored flower will no longer be visually appealing but rather ragged. 

Generally, you prune the Hot Lips Salvias to promote a more compact and manageable growth habit, ensuring the plant fits well within its intended space. 
A Hot Lips Salvia in a pot in a patio.
Rapid growth in the plant makes it leggy and weak.

Not just for aesthetic purposes, pruning spent flowers and stems helps encourage new growth and blooming.

Thus, the plant re-directs its energy, stimulating branching and additional lateral shoots’ growth. 

Moreover, opening up the plant’s canopy allows proper air circulation essential to break high humidity trapped within the dense foliage and stems.

Controlling this Baby Sage’s humidity helps keep pests like spiders, mites, aphids, and fungal infections at bay.

When to Prune Hot Lips Salvias?

Pruning in Hot Lips Salvia depends on the growth stage of the plant and the growing seasons. 

Normally, pruning the Hot Lips Salvias for shape and size control is done early to mid-summer after the initial flush of spring blooms. Operate either early in the morning or late afternoon when the light is slightly less intense. 

Some gardeners prefer trimming the plant in early spring just as new growth emerges.

This removes any winter-damaged or dead foliage and prepares the plant for the upcoming blooming season.

However, deadheading in Salvia is done throughout the blooming seasons (summer and fall) as soon as you witness any spent flowers.

How to Prune Hot Lips Salvias?

Here are the common steps to follow while pruning the Hot Lips Salvias. 

  • Start by sterilizing your pruning shears with some rubbing alcohol. You may use gardening gloves for extra protection. 
  • Now, carefully inspect the plant for woody, leggy, damaged, or dying stems and prioritize them to trim first.
  • Follow the stem downwards and make a clean just above a set of healthy leaves or buds (one-third of the weak stems). This encourages the plant to branch out and promote a more compact form.
  • Make sure to be mindful not to harm the healthier branches and foliage. 
  • Discard the pruned foliage away from your garden or in a compost bin. 

Note: As Hot Lip Salvia can propagate by stem cuttings, you may use the healthy pruned stems to grow more of these bi-colored beauties. 

What to Do After Pruning Hot Lip Salvias?

The fine-leafed Sage may appear droopy and sick immediately after pruning as a sign of stress. 

Needless to worry, your plant will start its regrowth within a few days if in proper health and with proper care

  • Water the plant thoroughly to help the plant recover from the pruning stress and bounce back quickly. Ensure the soil is evenly moist but not waterlogged, as the plant does not do well in soggy soil.
  • Allow the plant to receive a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sunlight for proper growth and blooming throughout the season. 
  • Hot Lip is hardy in zone 7, 8, and 9. But for zones having winter below 0°F, use winter protection like burlap to wrap the plant around against frost and cold breeze.
  • Consider providing a balanced fertilizer formulated for flowering plants to promote healthy regrowth. 
  • Though pests and diseases attack is rare in Sage, regularly inspect the foliage and stems for any issues. Use neem oil or insecticidal soap to control the pests and diseases attack, if any. 

From Editorial Team 

Avoid Overwhelming the Plant!

Hot Lip Salvia has relatively straightforward care requirements. But out of concern, sometimes we tend to overdo the watering and fertilizer, which has a negative impact on the plant. 

So, check the plant’s health status before opting for a particular care regime.