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Should You Cut Back Salvias After Flowering?

Should You Cut Back Salvias After Flowering?

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Willie Moore
Latest posts by Willie Moore (see all)

Salvias need to be pruned regularly to prevent overgrowth, as excessive growth can cause nutrient problems. Optimal timing is key when it comes to cutting back your salvia plants, which includes knowing how soon after flowering they need to be pruned.

You should cut back salvias after flowering to the base of the stems but not below the start of the foliage. After removing the flowers and stems, there should be plenty of leaves on the salvia plant. Pruning salvias allows room for more growth and healthy nutrient absorption.

Throughout this article, I’ll explain when and how you should prune your salvias. I’ll also discuss how low you should cut them to prevent damage to the foliage and roots.

When To Prune Salvias

You should prune salvias once after the winter and once after the first flower bloom. Pruning after the winter months removes excessive amounts of dry, dead foliage, which allows extra room for the stems and flowers to grow. Pruning after flowering helps the plant absorb more sunlight and nutrients.

Many people say salvias should be pruned in July to promote better flowering. You can prune the salvias right before or after the initial bloom since it can help them bloom multiple times. Pruning your salvias too soon can prevent optimal growth, but failing to prune them at all is just as bad, if not worse.

Here’s how you know it’s the right time to prune your salvias:

  • If you see dry, cracked stems, leaves, and flowers, you should remove them.
  • You can prune your salvias a couple of months before the initial bloom or right after they flower for a wide range of benefits.
  • Remove offshoots if you don’t want to grow additional salvias, as they can pull the moisture and nutrients intended for the main salvia plant.
  • If your salvia feels woody or looks brown beneath the top layer of the stem, that portion is likely dead and needs to be removed.

Pruning your salvias at the right time can make a world of difference in terms of longevity and abundance. If you stick to the aforementioned schedule of post-winter pruning combined with post-flower pruning, there’s no doubt your salvias will be on the right track for healthy growth.

How Do You Prune Salvias After Flowering? (PAA)

To prune salvias after flowering, use pruning shears to cut the stems down to the lowest node. Don’t cut the foliage or roots. All of your cuts should be above the base leaves and below the flowers. Water your salvias after pruning them to accelerate the repairing process for each of the stems.

Let’s break down these steps below:

  1. Prune salvia plants right above the lowest shooting node. If you cut below these shoots, it’ll take a very long time for your salvias to grow new flowers. This is a common mistake people make when trimming salvias, so make sure you keep the shears above the lowest shoots.
  2. Prune the stems at a 45-degree angle to allow for more sunlight and water absorption. Cutting the stems at an angle provides a slightly bigger surface area for nutrients to go into the stems and the roots. Also, make sure the shears are sharp enough to smoothly cut through the stems.
  3. Remove dead flowers, stems, and leaves from the salvias. You should do this whether or not your salvias recently flowered because dead foliage blocks nutrient absorption and prevents your salvias from growing new shoots and flowers. You should remove all dead foliage down to the highest living portion of the stem.
  4. Avoid cutting the bushy leaves or nodes near the leaves. They’re the source of growth, and most salvias won’t grow if they’re cut this low. You likely won’t see any of the stems too far above the bushy leaves, but this is completely normal.
  5. Remove excess debris, then water the salvias right after pruning them. Take away anything you might’ve missed, including all trimmings that fell into the plant, as they block soil moisture absorption. Consider bundling the flowers with a jute cord prior to cutting them if you want to reuse them for another purpose.

Proper pruning starts with using the right kind of shears.

Use a sharp, quality tool like Fiskars Pruning Shears (link to Amazon). Despite their lightweight 0.65-pound (295 grams) design, these steel shears can cut through salvia stems without a problem. They also have a non-slip grip handle, providing ergonomic control without dulling or falling out of your hands.

Here’s a helpful YouTube video of the salvia pruning process:

Should Salvias Be Cut Back to the Ground? 

Salvias shouldn’t be cut back to the ground, but they should be cut to the lowest node shoot. This allows new stems to grow without injuring the plant. You should only prune salvias after winter, when there are dead stems, or after they flower.

Keep these tips in mind when cutting your salvia plants:

  • Cut your salvias back to the first point of growth to prevent them from having to start over.
  • Some gardeners cut their salvias back to the ground in order to prevent them from blooming multiple times in a year.
  • You should remove old, dry, cracked, or diseased foliage from salvias to stop the problem from worsening.
  • Avoid cutting roots from salvias unless there are clear signs of root rot (mushy roots, wispy roots, or roots that won’t grow due to mold growth).
  • Anything you cut salvias with can transfer mold, mildew, and diseases from one plant to another.

Final Thoughts

Salvias need to be pruned after they flower to open up room for more stems and flowers. While they can grow without being pruned, it’ll take a lot longer and won’t look nearly as neat or abundant. Furthermore, pruning your salvias after flowering helps them produce more flowers in a blooming season.

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