Step-by-Step Guide to Growing and Caring for Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage) at Home 

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. These beautiful flowers are a great choice for sunny parts of the garden and is sure to bring bees, butterflies, and birds to your landscape. Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know about growing and caring for Salvia greggii (Autumn sage) at home including planting, soil considerations, light preferences, feeding, pruning, and over-winter care. 


How to Grow Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage) – The Essentials

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. Provide 1 inch every 7 to 10 days during dry weather or drought from the final frost to the first frost.
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

About Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage)

About Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage)

Taxonomy

Salvia greggii is part of the Salvia genus belonging to the sage or mint family (Lamiaceae). It is a member of the Menthea tribe within the Nepetoideae subfamily.

Where Does Salvia greggii come from?

Autumn sage is native to a narrow strip of land that runs from the Mexican state, San Luis Potosi through the Chihuahuan Desert to Southwestern Texas. Naturally, they can be found growing in rocky soil at elevations between 5,000 and 9,000 feet.

Botanical Characteristics

Botanical Characteristics

Autumn sage plants feature smooth, moderately bright green leaves that are about 1 inch in length and emit a slightly spicy, minty scent. 

Plants feature a wide variety of tubular flowers that can range in size from 1/4 to 1 inch long. 

Their racemes bloom in colors including red and scarlet which are most common in wild varieties, in addition to pink, rose, orange, apricot, violet, and white.

Uses and Benefits of Salvia greggii

Autumn sage is primarily used for its ornamental benefits since it’s beloved for its lengthy blooming season and almost evergreen-like growing habits.

Autumn sage is also a great choice for pollinator gardens. The plant’s lovely blossoms provide a strong attraction for highly beneficial and desired pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Additionally, autumn sage is edible, like other plants from its genus. The leaves and flowers can be dried and used in teas, garnishes, or as seasoning.

When Is Salvia greggii in Season?

When Is Salvia greggii in Season?

Despite its name, autumn sage is in season through spring, summer, and fall. It begins blooming from May and does not stop until the first frost which usually occurs sometime in November. Depending on the variety of autumn sage, it will bloom more heavily in either the spring or fall.

Salvia greggii Growth Expectations

Autumn sage grows rapidly. The plant’s size depends on its species. They can grow to be anywhere from 1 to 5 feet tall and slightly narrower around.

Best Garden Companion Plants for Salvia greggii

Autumn sage grows best alongside other sun-loving, drought-tolerant plants including:

  • Lavender (Lavandula)
  • Gaura (Oenothera lindheimeri)
  • Rockrose (Cistus)
  • Mugworts (Artemisia)
  • Everlasting Flowers (Helichrysm)
  • Other plants from the Salvia genus

How to Grow Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage)

How to Grow Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage)

The Best Location to Plant Salvia greggii

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 Salvia greggii

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

Growing From Seed vs. Planting Nursery Plants

Growing From Seed vs. Planting Nursery Plants

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

Germination takes about 3 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 Salvia greggii

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.

The Best Soil for Salvia greggii

The Best Soil for Salvia greggii

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 Salvia greggii

  • Dig a hole that’s 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, making sure 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 is able to drain.

Autumn Sage Light Preferences

Autumn Sage Light Preferences

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

Autumn Sage 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 (Autumn Sage)

How to Care for Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage)

When and How to Water Savlia greggii

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 drought or particularly dry conditions, plants should be provided with 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 with 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 Salvia greggii

Pruning and Cutting Back Salvia greggi

Autumn sage should be pruned twice a year. After flowering in 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, simply pinch them off at the stem.

Propagation

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

Overwintering Autumn Sage Plants

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.

When and How to Repot Container-Grown Salvia greggii

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 from the ground. Tease its roots apart and prepare a new location for planting, following the autumn sage planting instructions from above.


Common Salvia Greggi Problems and How to Treat Them

Common Salvia Greggi Problems and How to Treat Them

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 lots of direct sunlight, exceedingly high temperatures can lead to a scorched plant.
  • Wilting Leaves and/or 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 of their vegetation as they can in particularly dry conditions to conserve water. If your autumn sage is loosing its leaves, and it’s been a dry season, you can provide a bit more water.

Common Pests and Diseases

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 for Growing Salvia greggii

Essential Tools for Growing Salvia greggii

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

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!


Growing Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage) FAQs

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

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

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

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

Autumn sage is not considered to be invasive.


More Salvia Flower Growing Guides:

For more essential step-by-step guides to growing and caring for Salvia plants at home, please see our in-depth features on Salvia coccinea (Texas Sage), Salvia splendens (Scarlet Sage), and Salvia nemorosa (Woodland sage).


Author

I’ve long been fascinated with the world of flowers, plants, and floral design. I come from a family of horticulturists and growers and spent much of my childhood in amongst the fields of flowering blooms and greenhouses filled with tropical plants, cacti, and succulents from all over the world. Today, my passion has led me to further explore the world of horticulture, botany, and floristry and I'm always excited to meet and collaborate with fellow enthusiasts and professionals from across the globe. I hold a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and have trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris.

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