Growing Scarlet Sage Flowers

By Laura Miller | December 15, 2021
Image by LianeM
by Laura Miller
December 15, 2021

Admittedly, red is not one of my favorite colors. Whether it’s a red car, clothing or home decor, I find the color to be much too intense for my liking. Yet when it comes to my flower garden, it’s the intensity of this vibrant color that I love. And one of my favorite red flowering plants is scarlet sage.  

My Red, White and Blue Flower Garden

Each year, I love to fill my front flower beds with a colorful mix of annual flowers. I change this up every spring, but certainly one of my tried-and-true color schemes is a patriotic or red, white and blue flower garden. For this, I always choose scarlet sage.  

You may wonder why, when there are so many beautiful red flowers from which to choose, do I always pick this particular member of the mint family? It’s because I find scarlet sage flowers have a beautiful red hue, without any of the orange, pink or burgundy overtones found in other red flowering plants.

Additionally, scarlet sage flowers do very well in my sunny, front flowerbeds. Commonly called red or scarlet salvia, these flowers are quite easy to grow and require very little care. Plus, this type of salvia has scented leaves which deter the nibbling mouths of both rabbits and deer. 

Red Salvia Growing Tips

Whether you’re planting your own red, white and blue flower garden or you want to add vibrant color to flowerbeds and containers, scarlet sage is a wonderful choice for creating vertical accents. These plants produce whorls of 1 inch (2.5 cm.) flowers on spikes that can reach 2-3 feet (.6-.9 m.) tall.  

These Brazilian natives are winter hardy only in USDA zones 11 and 12, but can be grown as annuals elsewhere. When planted in a sunny location with moist, well-draining soil, gardeners can expect red salvia flowers to bloom throughout the summer and into fall.  

Additional red salvia growing tips include:

  • Sow seeds outdoors or start seedlings indoors and transplant into the garden once soil temperatures reach a minimum of 70 degrees F. (21 C.).
  • Red salvia flowers do best in neutral to acidic soil. In areas with alkaline soil, consider growing this herbaceous perennial in containers.
  • Amend soil with organic material before planting and mulch to retain moisture.
  • Salvia are not heavy feeders, but will benefit from a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) applied in the spring.
  • Although not required, deadheading can help scarlet sage flowers bloom more profusely.
  • When growing red salvia flowers as perennials in containers, protect them from frost and freezing temperatures by overwintering the plants indoors or moving them to a sheltered location.

In addition to brightening up the flowerbeds, scarlet sage spikes make long-lasting cut flowers or can be preserved for dried arrangements. As a symbol of fidelity, scarlet sage flowers are sometimes chosen for bridal arrangements.

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