Autumn Sage Care: Growing An Autumn Sage Plant In The Garden

Autumn Sage Care: Growing An Autumn Sage Plant In The Garden

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By: Tonya Barnett, (Author of FRESHCUTKY)

Selecting perennial flowers can be one of the most difficult aspects of planting flower borders or landscapes. Carefully taking the needs and requirements of the plants into consideration will help to ensure that these plantings are quick to establish themselves, and will look great throughout the growing season.

The autumn sage plant is a perennial that has gained popularity. Not only is this plant versatile, but it offers growers a season filled with flower blooms.

What is Autumn Sage?

Autumn sage plant, or Salvia greggii, is a nativeperennial plant to regions of Mexico, New Mexico, and southern Texas. Reachingroughly 3 feet (1 meter) in both height and width at maturity, these nativeplants are ideal candidates for wildflower gardens and for use in conventional flower gardens.

Though red cultivars are most common, autumn sage flowerscan be found in a wide range of colors. Beyond their blooms, autumn sage plantsalso feature uniquely fragrant foliage which can be easily maintained throughroutine trimming.

How to Plant Autumn Sage

When choosing to grow autumn sage, gardeners will first needto locate transplants. While it is possible to grow this plant from seed,cuttings or transplants will produce a plant that is true to type. Purchasingplants from a reputable retailer will ensure that the plants are healthy anddisease free.

Choose a well-draining location that receives full sun. Likemost types of salvia, autumn sage plants will not do well in plantings withexcess moisture. This makes them ideal candidates for container plantings, xeriscape yards, or those living in drier climates.

Temperature will also be key in success when growing theseplants. Though hardiness of the plants will vary by cultivar, autumn sage isgenerally hardy to about 15 F. (-9 C.). Temperatures colder than this mayresult in damage, or complete loss of the plants.

After selecting a site, simply dig a hole twice as wide andtwice as deep as the root ball of the plant. Place it into the planting holeand gently fill the soil back into it. After planting, water the autumn sageplants consistently until they have become established.

Once established, autumn sage care is minimal. In mostgrowing regions, irrigation is not required, as rainfall is often adequate.There may be exceptions to this, however, such as with instances of drought.

Autumn sage plants are also quite adaptable in terms oftheir ability to thrive in less than ideal soil conditions. With occasionalfertilization and irrigation, growers will be rewarded with prolific flowergardens.

This article was last updated on

Salvia Species, Autumn Sage, Cherry Sage, Gregg Salvia


Tropicals and Tender Perennials




USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

Sun Exposure:


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:


Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From seed sow indoors before last frost

From seed direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant break open to collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Foliage Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Where to Grow:


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

China Lake Acres, California

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Las Vegas, Nevada(2 reports)

Albuquerque, New Mexico(2 reports)

Holly Springs, North Carolina

Oak Island, North Carolina

Ladys Island, South Carolina

Fort Worth, Texas(3 reports)

San Antonio, Texas(2 reports)

Gardeners' Notes:

On Nov 29, 2013, MurrayTX from El Paso, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I have recently planted three of these in my bee garden, but can attest (by observing the neighbor's) that they do very well in alkaline sandy soil if they are given some protection from the intense late afternoon desert sun of El Paso (altitude 3.7k ft).

On Jul 17, 2013, NJReed from Southfield, MI wrote:

I bought this plant from Romence in Grand Rapids (when it had been zoned to 5). It came through its first Michigan winter and is just wonderful this summer. Blooms are a bright, hot pick & hummers love it! I did not cut back until the spring, it was surrounded by a bed of chopped leaves, and new growth came from the old wood.

On May 24, 2013, Dean48089 from Warren, MI (Zone 6b) wrote:

I used to have three or four different cultivars of Salvia greggii growing in my Zone 6B garden (all purchased from High Country Gardens). They were in two different raised beds: one on the east side of the house were it hardly ever got any rain, and the other on the west side of the house made up of mostly chicken grit and pea gravel. The plants survived the winters of 98/99 through 2001/2002, which were very mild winters in my area, without any sort of protection. Had I gone out and put rose cones on them the following winters they would probably still be alive today.

On Oct 23, 2012, tomaras3 from Harrah, OK wrote:

Magnets for butterflies and hummingbirds!

On Sep 9, 2012, mlsmls from Belleville, IL wrote:

I live in the St. Louis, MO region (6a) and have owned this plant for many years. When I moved 6 years ago I moved a plant that had already lived in my former back yard for at least 3 years. I have a newer plant in an area which gets all day sun but is not protected from northern winds in the winter. It has come back 2 years now. Never watered during our 12 days of over 100 degree temps and no rain it still lives. Very long blooming. Attracts hummingbirds (red variety that is) and butterflies. Doesn't seem to be fussy about soil quality.

On Apr 1, 2012, Sandwichkatexan from Copperas Cove, TX wrote:

Self sows freely here . Hummingbirds love them . I have about every color out there and a few that I have pollinated myself to create new color variations . a fun plant that deer avoid . and always has a hummingbird or butterfly visiting .

On Nov 10, 2011, mcvirginia from Arlington, VA wrote:

Salvia greggii looks like it dies back to "sticks" in the Arlington, VA winter, but it really acts like a deciduous perennial. It has come back strongly for three years. Requires some cutting back before it leafs out.

On Mar 21, 2011, astilbe2 from Monroe, LA wrote:

I planted a small autumn sage last spring, and it has performed beautifully . It bloomed throughout the summer of 2010, even surviving our week long heat wave of 103degree days scorching everything else. I love this plant. Now to my surprise, it has already started another beautiful bloom surge, even in early March!

On Feb 20, 2011, annlof from Camarillo, CA wrote:

Salvia greggii is pretty foolproof in Southern California. I cut my plants back by about 30 percent in December (our rainy season) to keep them compact. Nevertheless, they tend to get woody and unproductive after a few years and are best replaced. Cuttings root easily and plants grow quickly.

On Sep 22, 2010, xeriman from Farmington, NM wrote:

Cherry sage has been surviving pretty well under xeric conditions (about 3 to 5 gallons of water per week) here in northwestern New Mexico (USDA zone 6B Sunset zone 3A) at an elevation above 5000' but it dies back to ground in most winters. Consequently, I've not seen plants reach the 3 to 4 feet height reported from more southern climes. It is used extensively in local urban landscapes here.

On May 9, 2010, jazzy1okc from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

Here in OKC this plant seems to be doing extremely well in my garden and in the gardens of others. I have three, two in full sun on the south side of my house and one on the north side in afternoon only sun. The one on the north side suffered damage from our unusually harsh winter and an enthusiastic large dog, but it is coming back slowly. All have excellent drainage.
It is difficult to raise many plants in western exposures in OKC because the heat and dry southerly winds in midsummer are so intense. However, the various sages, many prairie types of plants (cone flower, coreopsis, Black Eyed Susans, etc.), several types of ornamental grasses, yaupon holly, yucca, and sedum do fine. Some varieties of Mediterranean plants--oregano, rosemary, and lavender--can be grown here but a. read more ll need excellent drainage. Knockout roses are much appreciated here as well!
I had been told that Pink Preference Autumn Sage is the most reliable in terms of surviving winter, but customers in the nursery where I work say other colors are surviving just fine as well.
I think the key with all good xeriscaping plants is good drainage. Unamended clay on a flat surface holds water. Poor drainage, especially in winter, is a killer.

On Feb 21, 2010, tulpen from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

A favorite for all the reasons already stated. Question: should I fertile/ add some cow manure to soil to enhance more flowers. Usually when plants flower a lot they also require "food." Thanks! Susan

On May 20, 2009, mcrousse from Holly Springs, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

I LOVE this plant! So do the hummers! One of the specimens is growing on an exposed slope on the northwest side of my house in somewhat amended clay. It grows in well-drained clay! It has become a shrub, probably around 4 ft square. It starts flowering in early April and doesn't quit till frost. Doesn't blink at our heat and humidity and gets full sun all day.

On Jul 18, 2008, slrob from Fort Worth, TX wrote:

'Flame' cultivar performed so well in my western garden that I purchased the 'rose pink' cultivar for my eastern garden to replace a nuisance 'black-and-blue sage'. 'flame' has handled a late frost, a severe hail storm and the Texas heat amazingly. 'flame' is more like a hot-pink (purplish base tint) color while the 'rose pink' appears to have more of a salmon pink color to me. Both are beautiful with many flowers on the 2-3' stalks. 'flame' lost a few leaves during winter but bushed out quickly in spring heat. Both are used as short hedges against the house in my gardens. Hummingbirds like these too!

On Mar 13, 2007, bluespiral from (Zone 7a) wrote:

This was one of the loveliest sages in our garden last summer, and it never noticed it was flowering in awful heat & humidity - just bloomed and bloomed in partial shade for the amusement of hummingbirds till frost.

I recently received a pack of mixed Salvia greggii seeds from the North American Rock Garden Society

1) Sow at 70*F with seeds wrapped in barely moist coffee filter inside baggy. Germination occurred in 10 - 20 days.

2) Regarding the Salvia genus in general, DG Annette68 said, "It is very true about surface sowing salvia seeds, they need light to germinate, they have to be surface sown."

On Nov 17, 2006, Marilynbeth from Hebron, KY wrote:

I love Salvia greggii's! They bloom early and long in the season. They are different varieties and colors to pick from the list of greggii's.

On May 22, 2006, whiskgar from Baltimore, MD wrote:

I found "Hot Lips" and "Maraschino" autumn sage last year at our local arboretum's plant sale. It does NOT need full sun in this hot, very humid climate. I planted them under a dogwood so that they got afternoon filtered sunlight and they went to town & bloomed vigorously all summer on 36-inch gracefully arching stems. Unfortunately, the nurseries around here don't know this plant. I'm trying to spread the word.

On Jun 28, 2005, Rocco from Tulsa, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have a salvia greggii that is about three years old growing in Tulsa,OK. It has been blooming since earlier this year and will bloom until fall. I took cuttings this past spring. I placed them in styrofoam cups with potting soil. They are now about twelve inches tall and ready to be transplanted. The plant is easily propagated from cuttings.

On Jun 28, 2005, Kelli from L.A. (Canoga Park), CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Blooms year-round. Produces seed but I have never had it self-sow. A friend of mine in Tucson says his self-sow all of the time. I think the difference is in our watering practices. He waters briefly every day and I water for a long time once a week or every other week.

On Mar 14, 2005, hanna1 from Castro Valley, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Mine is named 'Red', I albsolutely love the color, it is intense!

On May 28, 2004, cghoover8 from Albuquerque, NM wrote:

Evergreen at 5500' in New Mexico - very popular here in Albuquerque.

On May 27, 2004, angelap from Weatherford, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

Here in the harsh west Texas environment, Salvia greggi is a garden blessing! I have red, white and pink in the garden, and they bloom all summer, even in the excruciating heat. Mine reseed freely.

On May 12, 2004, kns1313 from Tijeras, NM wrote:

Tough to grow at 7000' in New Mexico (10" average annual rainfall). Dies back to the ground every winter, 50% of new plantings die every year. Beautiful plant, hummingbirds love it, but the mountains are tough on it. Mine have never set seed, I readily propagate via softwood cuttings. Still looking for altitude-adapted cultivar.

On May 4, 2004, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I totally agree with all the good reports on this plant and I find it extremely easy to propagate. The hummingbirds and butterflies are crazy about the flowers and bring us a lot of joy.
Salvia gregii is Endemic to Texas.

On May 3, 2004, AngelinaB from Voca, TX wrote:

If you love to watch hummingbirds and butterflies, this is an excellent plant. And this Salvia propogates quite easily. I've given 'babies' to family members and friends.

On Oct 9, 2003, jnurlv1 from Jacksonville, FL wrote:

I had no knowledge of the plant name or habitat when I obtained it. Therefore, I planted it in a half sun location since Florida sun is more excruciating to plants than other areas. It proved successful, and has gone from a small 6 inch twig to just shy of 5ft tall by 3 1/2 ft wide beauty. I have it in rich black soil that's heavily mulched. I have easily propagated it by snapping branches and replanting them in like soil and keeping them in shady areas for a couple of weeks. I found the name from a neighborhood nursery that had some in the red (mine is pink) and from there have added the reds to my garden. I love it and nicknamed it my fairy bush.

On Aug 15, 2003, sailinshoes from Independence, KS wrote:

Plant is also perennial in zone 5.

On Aug 14, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, TX
For hot, dry, sunny areas, it is one of the toughest, most beautiful performers. It blooms from March till frost with the most prolific blooming in spring and fall. Cut it back by half twice a year (mid February and mid June) to keep it low growing and dense. It is one of the most frequently planted native Texas plants. Preferring full sun, it does not bloom as well in partial or filtered shade and becomes leggy. Light green leaves indicate a need for fertilizer. Hummingbirds love this plant. Pull off a bloom and suck the nectar and you will see why they do!

On May 26, 2003, Lavanda from Mcallen, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

In February when I had cabin fever, I saw a beautiful specimen in full bloom at a garden center. To the side were some non-blooming identical plants, so I bought two non-blooming ones instead of one blooming plant..I set them out immediately and within one week both were blooming. They are very happily blooming away and have only been watered by occasional rain showers. The hummingbirds love this plant, the redder the flowers, the better. It is very enjoyable to walk by and see the cheerful tubular blooms.

Easy autumn sage

Plant this drought-tolerant beauty for reliable color summer through fall

Autumn sage, or Salvia greggii, puts out loads of color from summer’s hottest days through the chilly nights of fall. Related to mint, this sage is one in a family of some 900 species of sages around the world. Requiring very little care and blooming consistently, it’s an ideal medium-sized shrub to add to beds and borders.

Colors: Whorls of two-lipped small (an inch or smaller) flowers come in shades of red, pink, and white. Round or narrow leaves are about an inch long.

Size: Different varieties grow from one to four feet tall and wide most widely available types are about 2½ feet tall and wide.

Care: Autumn sage is drought tolerant, but looks best with moderate, deep watering. They like full sun. Prune in late winter of early spring, and shape plants before spring bloom.

Planting: Plant in well-drained soil in Sunset zones 8-24 anytime that ground can be worked.

Companions: Grow alongside other drought-tolerant perennials like lavender, gaura, other salvias, rockrose, helichrysum, and artemisia.


When to plant:

Potted salvias can be purchased and planted in spring or fall. (Learn more about the benefits of fall planting). Seeds should be started indoors 6 to 8 weeks before last frost date, and seedlings put out after all threat of frost has passed.

Where to plant:

Picking the right spot for your salvia can make a difference in how well the plant grows and flowers. Most salvias will be happiest in a sunny spot with good drainage. Use them along your home's foundation or as part of mixed perennial borders. They can also be grown in containers. Salvias are especially nice for growing along paths because of the way they spill over and soften the edges.

Salvia plants don't need rich soil, but they must have good drainage. If your soil is heavy, plant "proud", or slightly higher than the surrounding grade. In pots, a mixture of ordinary garden soil mixed with perlite allows water to drain rapidly. Whether in the garden or in a pot, a mulch of wood chips or small, rough-edged rock is highly recommended to not only protect the roots, but to help keep the soil temperature and moisture consistent.


Salvias don’t like to be crowded. When planting in groups or amongst other plants, determine the spacing based on their mature size. Space them far enough apart to ensure good air circulation.

Salvia greggii

Related To:

Salvia greggii (01) Habit

Give your garden a splash of color courtesy of a drought-tolerant beauty: autumn sage. Known botanically as Salvia greggii, autumn sage goes by several common names among gardeners, including cherry sage, Gregg’s sage and Texas sage. This perennial is hardy in Zones 7 to 9, although some varieties like ‘Wild Thing’ boast hardiness to Zone 6.

Salvia greggii is native to Southwest Texas and into the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico. Once established, the plants survive on little water and make great additions to xeriscape or low water-use landscapes. It’s important not to plant Salvia greggii where it receives regular water from an automated irrigation system. Plants can’t survive overly wet soils. This sage plant tolerates heat and humidity, too.

Like many sages, Salvia greggii prefers a lean, sharply draining soil. Plants grow well in alkaline soils, as well as rocky soils. Too much fertilizer can actually kill this perennial. Give Salvia greggii a full sun location except in hottest regions, where a little afternoon shade is beneficial to plants.

Leaves on Salvia greggii are narrow, leathery and aromatic. The narrow shape and leathery texture are adaptations to a desert environment, helping to reduce water loss from leaves. The aromatic qualities are in keeping with plants in the sage family. This perennial is deer-resistant, thanks to the smelly leaves.

Despite its common name of autumn sage, this is a perennial that boasts a long flower season. Blooms appear on this plant in spring, summer and fall. Strongest flowering occurs in spring and fall, with more sporadic blooms during the heat of summer. Salvia greggii usually opens blossoms in shades of red, although varieties exist that have flowers in pink, purple, white and orange.

Hummingbirds mob this plant, especially the red-flowered types. Autumn sage is also a good addition to a butterfly garden. The plants have a strong vase shape, with branches emerging from the base of the plant. Salvia greggii grows to varying sizes, depending on where it’s growing and how it’s pruned. Plants can grow up to 4 feet high with a spread up to 2 feet.

Many gardeners keep autumn sage from becoming a sprawling tangle by pruning twice each year. Cut plants back to 4 inches high in late winter. New growth will emerge in spring from stems and soil. Make a second pruning in August, cutting plants back by half. This results in a flush of new stems that will flower in fall.

In cold climates, try growing Salvia greggii in containers. Prune plants in late fall before bringing pots indoors for overwintering. You can wait to let a killing frost zap stems, or cut them before frost, although if the plant is blooming, you won’t want to trim stems. Store plants in a cool, bright location for winter. Barely water through winter—just a dribble once a month to keep roots alive. Place plants outside again in late spring as temperatures warm.

Growing California White Sage in Oklahoma

Select an area of Oklahoma to grow white sage in that is at least 2,400 feet above sea level. White sage grows at elevations between 4,400 and 8,000 feet above sea level. Most of the Oklahoma panhandle is above 2,500 feet in elevation, and has cool enough nighttime temperatures for White Sage to thrive. The panhandle also contains a clay loam soil texture that white sage thrives in.

  • Allow any moisture, such as dew or rain, to evaporate from the leaves of the sage plant.
  • Select an area of Oklahoma to grow white sage in that is at least 2,400 feet above sea level.

Choose a location on your property that is very dry for your white sage. California white sage is a drought tolerant plant that will do poorly if exposed to water. In the desert, white sage grows on the sides of hills and mesas, or in the bottom of dry valleys.

Dig a planting hole for your white sage that is slightly larger than the plant’s root ball. Place the root ball into the soil and cover it with dirt. Water very lightly. White sage thrives in dry areas that receive as little as 5 inches of rain yearly.

There is little need to amend the soil when you plant white sage. The plant will even grow well in soils affected by calcium or sodium deposits.

White sage earned the nickname winterfat because the plant is a useful winter grazing plant for livestock. Steady, continuous grazing can harm white sage. Do not allow livestock to graze on the plant in late winter and early spring.

Watch the video: How to Grow Oregano - Pruning


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