Pruning: Leggy Salvia

Don’t you hate this?  Your spring starts out great. Everything is rockin’ and rollin’ in the garden and then ‘splat’ your plants flop or end up with some yucky bug or fungus.  Today I’m looking at my Salvia plant and getting to the bottom of how to revive and perk it up.

Based on a combination of googling and reading The Well Tended Perennial Garden I have two options.

  • I can dead head or prune back the purple bracts  – basically what’s left of the flowers once blooming has faded.
  • My second option is to prune the entire plant back to the basal foliage/growth.  Basal foliage is the newly emerging growth at the base of the plant.  This option would  encourage new growth for the entire plant.

I’m torn on which approach to take, but in a small garden the size of mine, it’s best to keep the plants tidy.  Floppy branches touching other plants, or laying on the ground combined with our hot, humid weather can encourage pests and diseases to move on in.


Salvia – blooming beautifully!

leggy, 'open-up' Salvia

Leggy/floppy/opened-up Salvia









If I I decided to prune back the purple bracts, I would cut back to where I see the new growth starting to emerge.  The flowering bract is in the center, with new growth on both the right and left.  Check out the picture below.

On the right and left of the bloom sits the new growth.  Prune the middle bract to revive the plant.

On the right and left of the bloom sits the new growth. Prune the middle bract to revive the plant.

To prune back to basal growth, I would cut the whole plant back to the newly emerging leaves.  With this approach, I will have a bit of a hole in my garden, but should encourage another good bloom later in the summer and avoid the flopping.

To prune back hard, cut back to about 4 inches.

Basal growth is at the base of the plant.



About beth

Hello, I'm Beth, an ex-financial services marketing type, with two kids, a husband, and a new puppy. I have a passion for gardening, cooking, all things crafty, but above all else that journey called life.
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