How to Grow Salvia Greggii Flowers (Autumn Sage)

Salvia greggii, commonly called autumn sage, is a beautiful, woody, herbaceous plant that is nearly evergreen in warm enough climates. It’s a favorite for gardens in its native home, Southwestern Texas, but can be easily cultivated in gardens and containers throughout the Southern United States. In my experience, these beautiful flowers are an excellent choice for sunny parts of the garden and will bring bees, butterflies, and birds to your landscape. Here, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about growing and caring for Salvia greggii at home, including planting, soil considerations, light preferences, feeding, pruning, and over-winter care. 

How to Grow Salvia greggii (Autumn sage)

Key Takeaways:

Botanical Name:Salvia greggii
Also Known As:Autumn Sage, Cherry Sage, Gregg Salvia
Hardiness Zones:USDA Zones 5 through 10
Flowering Months:May through November
Growing Difficulty:Easy to grow
Type of Plant:Herbaceous, upright or mounding perennial
Light Requirements:Full sun
Temp & Humidity:Hardy to 15°F. Can experience heat stress when temperatures repeatedly exceed 110°F. Drought tolerant but can also survive high summer humidity.
Watering Needs:Low-water or supplemental watering only. During dry weather or drought from the final frost to the first frost, provide 1 inch every 7 to 10 days.
Soil Preferences:Well-draining, rich soil with a slightly acidic to slightly alkaline pH ranging from 6.1. to 7.8
Feeding:Light feeders. Apply 1 inch of compost or mulch in spring or a light application of balanced, slow-release fertilizer pellets.
Growth Expectations:1 to 5 feet in height, depending on the variety
Toxicity:Non-toxic to dogs, cats, and people

How to Grow Autumn Sage

The delicate pink flowers of Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage) in bloom with forest green foliage

The Best Location to Plant

Autumn shade looks beautiful in mass plantings and is suitable for planting in beds, borders, wall-side borders, patios, and containers with well-draining soil that receive at least 4 to 6 hours of full sun daily.

The Best Time of Year to Plant

Autumn sage can be planted any time of the year after all danger of frost has passed.

Growing From Seed vs. Nursery Plants

A close shot of Autumn sage showcasing red and white petals

Autumn sage can be relatively easily grown from seed. However, it does require more time and patience than planting nursery plants.

Germination takes about three weeks, and then you also must wait for seedlings to be well established before they are ready to be transplanted into your garden or container.

What to Do Before Planting

Before planting, choose a suitable location that receives plenty of sunlight. Make sure you’ll have enough room to space plants about 1 to 3 feet apart.

Best Soil Types

A small garden spade in the soil

Highly prone to root rot, autumn sage primarily needs well-draining soil. Purchase or create a rich, well-draining potting mix that is slightly acidic to slightly alkaline with a pH ranging from 6.1 to 7.8.

How to Plant

  • Dig a hole about twice the size of your plant’s root ball.
  • Loosen the soil and remove roots or large rocks.
  • Next, add a layer of a few inches of compost if planting in the ground. If planting in a container, add compost and perlite or sand to improve richness and drainage.
  • Place your plant in the hole, ensuring the top of the roots are even with the top of the soil.
  • Add soil to fill in around the plant and gently pat the soil until it’s firm.
  • Soak thoroughly after planting and ensure excess water can drain.

Light Preferences

Autumn Sage flowering in ideal light conditions in a garden

Autumn sage prefers full sun, and a south-facing location is best.

Temperature and Humidity Preferences

In locations that exceed 110°F multiple days in a row, autumn sage can benefit from some partial shade. Otherwise, plants are winter hardy down to 15°F. They prefer low humidity but can also tolerate high humidity in the summer.


How to Care for Salvia greggii

Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage) in bloom in a garden

Watering

Autumn sage requires little water to thrive. So, how much you need to water yours will depend on the amount of rainfall your plants are receiving.

During droughts or particularly dry conditions, plants should receive about 1 inch of supplemental irrigation every 7 to 10 days throughout the growing season.

Apply water directly to the ground around the base of the plants, being careful to avoid wetting the foliage. It’s best to water autumn sage in the mornings so that any moisture on the leaves will dry during the day. Otherwise, wet leaves could damage the plant.

Feeding and Fertilizing

Autumn sage is a light feeder and does not require much fertilizer. Applying a light layer of slow-release fertilizer pellets to the soil at the base of your plants at the beginning of the growing season will provide adequate nutrients through the spring, summer, and fall.

Alternatively, you can apply a layer of compost and mulch at the beginning of the growing season.

Pruning and Cutting Back

A small cluster of recently pruned Salvia greggi flowers in a garden

Autumn sage should be pruned twice a year. After flowering is finished, prune in the winter to about 4 inches above the plant’s crown. Also, prune in late summer if you want to maintain a more compact plant.

Deadheading spent flowers is recommended to encourage new flowers throughout the season. To remove spent blooms, pinch them off at the stem.

Propagation

Autumn sage can be propagated by seeds gathered from dried seed pods or transplants and cuttings. Transplants and cuttings produce plants more similar to the original, and seeds tend to produce plants with more significant variances.

  • Spring or early summer – Use softwood cuttings, basal cuttings, or divide the plant’s root ball.
  • Late summer or fall – Use semi-ripe cuttings.

Sow seeds inside near the end of winter and plant outdoors after the final frost of the year.

Overwintering

End of season Autumn Sage Plants in bloom

Autumn sage planted in the ground does not require any special preparation outside of pruning to prepare for the winter season.

Container-grown autumn sage should be pruned after its final bloom or following the first frost and then brought indoors to a cool, bright location.

Repotting

Autumn sage should only be transplanted during the growing season. It’s best to do so in early spring when just the first signs of new growth have emerged.

To repot your plant, gently loosen its soil and remove it from its container or the ground. Tease its roots apart and prepare a new location for planting, following the autumn sage planting instructions from above.


Common Problems and How to Treat Them

Deep red flowers of the Salvia Greggi plant

What to Look out for:

  • Light Yellow Leaves – This is a sign of overwatering. Reduce the frequency and make sure your soil is draining properly.
  • Darker Yellow to Brown Leaves – This could indicate a sun-scorched plant. While autumn sage needs direct sunlight, exceedingly high temperatures can lead to a scorched plant.
  • Wilting Leaves and Stems – This could indicate an over-watered plant or a plant that’s getting watered in the afternoon. Afternoon watering results in evaporation and too much humidity directly around the plant. Reduce the frequency and water your plants in the morning.
  • Leaves Falling Off – These drought-tolerant plants drop as much vegetation as possible in arid conditions to conserve water. If your autumn sage is losing its leaves and it’s been a dry season, you can provide more water.

Common Pests and Diseases

Garden pests and diseases aren’t too commonly encountered with autumn sage, but you might run into the following:

  • Leafhoppers – Leafhoppers can be controlled by applying diatomaceous earth to plants, putting up floating barriers, or using insecticides. Insecticide, however, should not be used when plants are blooming because it will kill your pollinators, too.
  • Slugs and Snails – Slugs and snails could also indicate too much moisture for autumn sage. Remove moisture-holding debris, put out bait, or erect garden barriers that they can’t cross.
  • Rosemary Beetles – Rosemary beetles are best hand-picked from your garden and dropped into a soapy bucket of water. Pesticides can kill them, but they’ll also kill your garden’s pollinators.

Essential Tools

A selection of gardening tools

Autumn sage doesn’t require too many specialized tools, but the following items will be useful:

  • Soaker hose or watering can
  • Pruning shears
  • Perlite or sand
  • Soil probe or moisture meter
  • Mulch, compost, or slow-release fertilizer pellets

Growing Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage) FAQs

Do Salvia greggii flowers come back every year?

Yes, autumn sage is a perennial plant, and its flowers blossom every year.

Do Salvia greggii flowers attract bees?

Autumn sage attracts bees, in addition to hummingbirds and butterflies.

Do you deadhead Salvia greggii?

To encourage beautiful flowers from spring through fall, spent blooms should be removed or deadheaded from autumn sage.

Where is Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage) native to?

Autumn sage is native to a region that stretches from Southwestern Texas through the Chihuahuan Desert to San Luis Potosi in Mexico.

Are Salvia greggii considered invasive?

Autumn sage is not considered to be invasive.

Beautiful Blooms for a Low-Maintenance Garden

Autumn sage is a lovely choice that offers great variety in color and pollinators for just about any garden in a warm enough climate. This mostly hands-off perennial bloomer is a favorite for both containers and garden beds alike!

Editorial Director | andrew@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.

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