Pruning Salvia – A Simple How To

By Lee Miller | August 26, 2015
Image by Lee Miller
by Lee Miller
August 26, 2015

This week’s Wednesday gardening guest blogger is Lee Miller,  a landscape/garden designer, consultant, garden blog author and published book author ( A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer).   She has been involved in the horticultural field since 1996 and started blogging so that she could share her love of gardening with others and has furthered her passion through a new interest in garden photography.

Salvia Maynight

As a landscape professional one of the most often asked questions by many of my customers is, “What do I do with my salvia now that it is done blooming?” Very often when the salvia stalks start to turn brown it appears that the plants are dead but they are only finished with their first show.  Here in the Northeast, Salvia bloom at the end of May into the end of June and require some deadheading once the months of July and August approach.  A simple pruning technique will help your Salvia to bloom longer wherever you are located.  By the way, if you are wondering what type of salvia this is, it is my favorite, Salvia ‘May Night’.  Its deep purple coloring and long blooming habit make it a welcome addition to any full sun garden.  Now let’s discuss how to prune your salvia for maximum bloom.


When your plants are starting to look a little less desirable than you prefer, it is time to deadhead. It is sometimes difficult to explain how to prune salvia so follow me on this. Take a look at any three fingers on your hand that are next to each other. When you prune your salvia you will be cutting out the center stalk that is done blooming. On each side of the center stalk you will see two other stalks with new buds and blooms forming. If there are blooms done on the two side stalks you can cut those out as well. Only cut the spent stalks and the new flowers will form. I usually get about three blooms out of my salvia throughout the summer and into the early fall. By the second or third bloom, you may want to give your plants a little plant food to give them a boost and add energy for the rest of the season.   If your plants are brand new they may have been force bloomed, so for the first season you may only get one or two blooms but come next year you will be able to push out three blooms if you time your pruning right.

Pruning Center Stalk

Now that you are ready to prune your salvia, the best time of day is either early morning or late afternoon or just when you need a little garden therapy. Pruning salvia can be both rewarding and therapeutic so pick the right time to perform this task! When the fall season arrives and winter is on its way, be sure to prune your salvia down to just two to three inches above the ground and add a little mulch around the plant for protection. With regular maintenance of your plants you will receive blooms to enjoy for the entire season. Now-back to my garden!


salvia june


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Published Book:  A Guide to Northeastern Gardening Journeys of a Garden Designer


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  • Vrage Dilanchian
    Comment added June 27, 2020Reply

    Very helpful information & advice. .

    I enjoy reading gardening articles.


  • Nancy Gatewood
    Comment added October 20, 2019Reply

    This has been just the info I needed as this is my first year growing blue-black salvia.Glad to know specifics of dead- heading in fall so prepared for colder days ahead! Hints also provide
    better blooming success to enjoy in their new year! Thanx Soo Much!

  • Dominick
    Comment added June 18, 2019Reply

    Hi, I just read this blog on pruning Salvia. Mine are just about ready to deadhead. I love your website, it is the place I find most of the information I need.

    Just a new 70 year old gardener. Mostly herbs.

  • Robert Rosen
    Comment added April 13, 2019Reply

    What is the best type and size of the container to plant them in or would you recommend a border ? thanks in advance for your answers.

  • Laurie
    Comment added December 18, 2016Reply

    It is good to know a lot about the plants, bushes, and trees that you keep on your property. If you don't know enough, you may damage the plant. Great information, thanks for sharing!

  • Teri Sence
    Comment added September 5, 2016Reply

    Hi - how far down do I prune the salvia stalk? Thank you

  • Reese
    Comment added September 14, 2015Reply

    Lovely! I really enjoy gardening!

  • Ongedierte
    Comment added August 28, 2015Reply

    Hi Lee, thanks a lot for your valuable insights. Must read for gardening enthusiasts.

  • Linda Mooney
    Comment added August 26, 2015Reply

    I have been following Lee's advice for several years now and my Salvia are doing great.

  • Carol
    Comment added August 26, 2015Reply

    Great post! Next year I will deadhead after blooming for more blooms! I thought the Salvia only had one glorious flush of flowers per year! Thanks for setting me straight!

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