How to Grow Autumn Sage

This native wildflower is a hummingbird magnet

Autumn sage shrub with small red flowers on tall thin branches

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) is a native perennial shrub that blooms prolifically from mid-summer to mid-fall. During this time it will be attracting bees, birds, and butterflies. Hummingbirds are especially drawn to the flowers' typical red color.

This hummingbird magnet is a bushy shrub. The two-lipped flowers are usually red, though some offer shades of purple, pink, yellow, white, or violet. They bloom in whirls atop foliage that smells of mint and the small, downy green leaves are each about two inches long.

A versatile and lasting perennial, sometimes flowering starts with the autumn sage as early as spring and continues until the first frost. While flowering may decrease in the heat of summer, it will pick back up again in the fall.

Growing rapidly up to two to three feet tall and wide, this species mingles well in wildflower gardens or in conventional floral landscapes.

Botanical Name Salvia greggii
Common Name  Autumn Sage, Cherry Sage, Gregg Salvia
Plant Type Native perennial flowering shrub
Mature Size  3 ft. tall, 3 ft. wide
Sun Exposure  Full sun
Soil Type  Moist; well-draining; chalk, loam, or sand
Soil pH  Neutral
Bloom Time  Mid-summer to mid-fall
Flower Color  Pink, Rose/Mauve, Red, Yellow, White/Near White, Violet
Hardiness Zones  6-9, USDA
Native Area  Mexico; North America (Southwest, specifically southern Texas and New Mexico)
Toxicity  Non-toxic

Autumn Sage Care

Plant this small flowering shrub in a perennial border or as a low hedge. Welcome to beds, patios, and containers in a city or courtyard garden, a coastal garden, a gravel and rock garden, or among a more informal setting of a cottage-style flower patch.

Dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball of the purchased or propagated plant. Set it in the hole and gently place soil into the hole.

Autumn sage stems with bright red flowers and buds closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Autumn sage shrub stems in sunlight with red flowers on top

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Autumn sage with red flowers and purple buds on top closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Autumn sage stem with red flowers closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Light

Select a site with full sun. Autumn Sage can benefit from a sheltered position, though, generally, it needs a lot of light.

Soil

Give the plant moderately fertile, well-drained soil.

Water

Water regularly after planting. Once established, plants require only average watering. Do not overwater; rainfall is usually enough.

Like most types of salvia, Autumn Sage does not do well with excess moisture. If the ground does not meet this need, consider planting in a container or in a xeriscape landscape.

Temperature & Humidity

Native to southern Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico, this type of salvia is tolerant to heat, humidity, and drought. Autumn Sage is generally hardy to about 15 degrees Fahrenheit (-9 Celsius). Any lower temperatures may cause damage or the plants to be completely lost. It can last as an evergreen in warmer climates.

Is Autumn Sage Toxic?

Generally, sage is not toxic to people or pets. You can actually eat the mint-scented and flavored leaves of Autumn Sage.

Pruning

Cut individual stems at their main branch throughout the growing season, and prolong flowering by deadheading. Remove spent blooms at the stem. Gently pinch or pull the flower from its sepal, and toss it in the compost. Only let flowers drop on the soil if you want volunteer plants next season.

One way of pruning is shearing. This encourages new woody growth. If done once every two or three growing seasons, you will be rewarded with an exceptionally bushy plant.

Prune the shrub in its dormant months, before or after flowering, to prevent overcrowding. Cut off all the branches of the shrub down to its root, as close to the ground as possible. Do this at the end of each growing season, closer to the final flowering, to stimulate new growth.

Propagating Autumn Sage

Cuttings or transplants will produce a plant truer to its original type, as compared to seeds which may produce differences. In spring or early summer, propagate by basal cuttings or softwood cuttings. In late summer or autumn, propagate by semi-ripe cuttings. The rootball can also be divided into separate plants. Or, allow pods to dry on the plant and break them open to collect and properly clean the seeds. Sow seeds indoors before the last frost and outdoors directly after the last frost.

Common Pests/Diseases

Keep an eye out for leafhoppers, slugs and snails, and rosemary beetles. Being nearly disease-free and deer resistant, the Autumn Sage plant is overall easy to maintain. Welcome this flowering shrub into your sunny garden and watch the flowers flourish for a long growing season.