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How & When to Prune an Autumn Sage Plant

Autumn sage, known botanically as Salvia greggii, is a flowering perennial semi-evergreen herb that grows in small shrub form, reaching 3 feet in height and spread at maturity. Native to Mexico and Texas, autumn sage is hardy in zones 8 through 11 and thrives in rocky, well-drained soil. Autumn sage flowers from spring through to fall, most commonly in a deep crimson color but also in white, pink, yellow, salmon and purple. It is grown in beds and borders and planted en masse as a draw for hummingbird activity in the garden. While it does not require regular pruning to encourage growth and bloom, autumn sage can be kept to a tighter, neater form with pruning.

Prune your autumn sage twice a year in the late winter after all flowering has ceased and again in August to keep the plant more compact in size.

Shear the plant to just 4 inches above the crown during the winter pruning session. Clear away all of the cuttings to make room for spring growth to emerge.

Prune away 1/2 of the plant height and mass during the summer pruning session in August to reduce the size of the shrub and create a tight mound of new green growth and flowers.

Prune away any damaged, diseased or dead branches or foliage throughout the year as needed. Place cuts back to the point of healthy tissue or cut the branch all the way back to the crown to encourage a new branch to be sent up.

& When To Prune An Autumn Sage Plant

Heading entails removing spent flowers at the stem or cutting small individual stems at the main branch. Discard into a compost pile or save for future plantings. Keep an eye on new growth. Shearing tends to promote more exterior growth -- blocking the sun from the interior growth -- and can result in more dead branches and fewer flowers. Choose old or dead branches to cut from the joint down to the next lateral branch or further, depending on how much thinning is needed. Thinning plants takes careful precision and is the most time-consuming of pruning methods. Directly before or immediately after the flowering season, lop off all the branches of the shrub to its root. The pruning method produces best when done closer to the final flowering in winter months to ensure a long period of growth.

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