There are many different types, sizes and colors of salvias, both perennial and annual, which are all commonly planted the world over. Here in Tucson, which is now my world, I inherited a very overgrown and extremely woody Salvia x greggii in my new garden. I’ve been wanting to clean it up for weeks now and this past Sunday afternoon I had the time and it was finally a bit overcast so I could film a video to show you what I was going to do.
There are many varieties of Salvia greggiis and I believe this 1 that I was pruning is either “sparkle” or “cold hardy pink”. It was at the tail end of a bloom when I moved in and all I really noticed is that the flowers are an intense, almost hot pink. Salvia greggiis fall into the category of herbaceous with woody stems and like most plants, are best pruned in a certain way. I’ve done a couple of posts on doing big Salvia prunings in the fall or spring, but think of this 1 as more of a mid-season haircut and shape up.
First off I needed to remove the deciduous Trumpet Vine (or Trumpet Creeper) which is growing next to and also into the salvia. This is an invasive vine by the way so be careful where you plant it. I discovered that the salvia was actually attached to the fence in a couple of places with covered wire so I removed it and set the plant free. It immediately flopped down so that meant I also had to prune to get it to grow upright and not so much outward on the walkway to my front door.
Here’s what you need to know about pruning an over grown, woody Salvia greggii: do it gradually rather than taking it all the way down to 8-12″ from the ground. I made that mistake the 1st time I ever pruned 1 and it never came back. Because this is a commonly sold plant, it might just be easier for you to replace it rather than try to bring it back. I love to prune and always enjoy a challenge so I gave it a go. Most of the Salvia greggiis reach 2-3′ in both height and width by the way.
Here’s before the start of the haircut – oh my!
Here’s what I did:
–> 1st off, make sure your pruners are clean & sharp. This is better for the plant & makes the pruning so much easier.
–> After removing the Trumpet Creeper, I pruned away the large, dead branches of the salvia.
–> I took out the branches which cross over &/or were awkward. This helps to open up the plant & give it a much better overall shape.
–> I then took back the remaining stems & branches by 12″ at the most. I always left some growth on each stem or branch. Remember, don’t take off too much in this initial pruning – you can do more in the next pruning if you need to.
–> I finished up by taking out some smaller dead stems & doing a bit of overall “tidying”.
–> I thoroughly watered the plant the next morning (I dripped the hose in for 10 minutes) & put a 2″ layer of local organic compost around the base.
A close of the stems & branches – most of the foliage & growth was a t the ends.
The finished project was by no means beautiful, as evidenced by the lead photo! The plant is still woody but it does have quite a bit of new growth coming up on the backside and in the middle. Depending on how long your growing season is, you may have to do this lighter pruning (basically deadheading) on your Salvia greggii 2-4 times. After it comes back and blooms again, I’ll continue to prune mine to keep that flowering coming on, which here in Tucson might be closer to 4 trims.
This is where a bit of patience pays off and now I have to wait to see just how this 1 comes back. In a month or 2 I’ll shoot a quick video to show you how the plant is rejuvenating. Hopefully it’ll come back refreshed and gorgeous just like a week spent at 1 of the many spas here in Tucson!
I just had to have a pretty photo in this post. Here are the flowers of 1 of my Barrel Cactus which you see in the opening of the video.
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I’m a life-long gardener who still to this day gets giddy at the thought of a trip to one of the local nurseries. Yes, I actually studied landscape and environmental horticulture and the practical experience I have garnered through the years has served me well. Childhood memories of chicken manure “tea” still float through my olfactory senses to this day. I have always been an organic gardener and always will be. From the Earth … To the Earth. I was born and raised in rural, bucolic Litchfield County, Connecticut and now joyfully live a few blocks from the ocean in beautiful Santa Barbara, California.