How to Care for Blue Salvia – A Growing Guide

Commonly known as “mealycup sage” or “mealy sage”, blue salvia make ideal summer bloomers. They can be planted in borders, patches, and containers in your garden. 

Not only do these plants attract various pollinators with their violet-blue, nectar-rich blossoms, but they’re also considered a minty herb due to their fragrant foliage with their stunning velvety shine. 

All About Blue Salvia

a garden with blue salvias

Botanically named as “Salvia farinacea”, these plants can only be grown as perennials in USDA zones 8-10 while in all the other zones they’re grown as annuals. 

Blue salvia is indigenous to the meadows of Mexican regions and some parts of the United States, but nowadays they’re naturalized in many other countries around the world. In best-growing conditions, they can grow up to 4 feet in height as well as in width.  

Blue salvia is a popular plant for planting in borders, around ponds, and for mass cultivation. They’re also ideal as ground covers and make great companion plants. 

Both fresh and dried blue salvia plants are often used in various floral arrangements around the world. These plants also have antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory components that can be used in herbal infusions and decoctions.

How to Plant Blue Salvia

a butterfly on a blue salvia flowers

These plants can be propagated easily by seeds. Plant them indoors in containers/pots and when they start growing, you can move them outdoors later on.  

It’s also possible to sow seeds directly in the ground outside, but you’ll have to wait until the last bit of frost from the winter has passed away. This means you won’t be able to start your blue salvias patch until mid to late spring since it would be too late for them to grow enough to bloom by the summer.  

The best thing to do is to plant the seeds indoors first, at least 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Plant 3-4 seeds in one container, about ¼ inches from the soil surface.  Press down gently. Water the seeds lightly and then place the pots in a spot that gets bright sunlight throughout the day. 

In proper conditions, the seeds will begin their germination process within 5-12 days but in some cases, it could take from 15 to 20 days. 

Once the last frost has ended, replant the young seedlings outside in the ground directly or in bigger containers. Remember to cut and remove any excessive roots first and then plant them in fresh, rich soil. Press down the soil just enough to keep the plants from toppling down and finally water them well. 

The Right Soil

Blue salvia are low-maintenance plants that can be grown in average soil. However, to get the best out of it, plant them in loamy or sandy and well-draining soil that’s rich with lots of organic matter. 

The ideal pH level should be acidic to alkaline with a wide range of 6.1-7.8. By adding some organic compost, you can always improve the soil quality before planting, but if you don’t have a way to improve the condition of the soil, don’t worry because your plants will still grow well. 

Sunlight and Temperature

Blue salvia is sun-loving plants that need at least 6-8 hours of full sun per day. However, in hottest climates, they can grow in partial shade since full sun could burn them. 

These plants prefer a temperature of 65-70 degrees of Fahrenheit (18-21 Celsius) and are extremely sensitive to lower temperatures. Therefore, they can’t survive outdoors in the regions in the winter.


Freshly planted seeds and young salvia plants need to be watered thoroughly and regularly while matured plants have average watering needs. In mild and cool areas, water your blue salvias only when the soil surface is dry to the touch, as over-watering can cause them to have various complications. 

However, in hotter climates, they’ll need frequent watering to keep the soil moist. Always water the plants from the base to avoid wetting the foliage and stems since wet foliage and stems can cause them to rot. You could try using a soaker hose to make things easier.


Blue salvia isn’t a heavy feeder so plants grown in quality soil won’t need any additional feeding. However, you can add some fertilizer in the growing season to boost growth and flowering. 

Feed the plants weekly in the growing season with a complete-balanced fertilizer that contains nitrogen. Be extra careful not to over-feed your plants, however, as their roots can be damaged due to a high concentration of fertilizer.

Pruning and Deadheading

beautiful blue salvia plants

Based on how quickly your plants grow, you can prune them once or twice a year. Start pruning in the fall by cutting back the stems to the point where the first set of leaves starts. Remove all the dried-up, old, and dead leaves that are closer to the ground. This will help in thinning the excess and unnecessary foliage and will also provide the plants with better aeration.  

Deadheading means removing the dead flower heads from your plants.  Deadheading your plants when you notice dead flower heads will help the plants to bloom well. Always use sharp and clean tools to avoid damaging your plants when pruning and deadheading. 

Pests and Diseases

Blue salvia is a resilient plant that resists many garden pests and infections. However, aphids and powdery mildew can often affect it.  

Aphids tend to suck the plant sap causing them to wither away and die. They leave a sticky residue on the foliage and stems which is one way to identify an aphid infestation. To control aphid infestations, wash the plants using a stream of clean water and then spray them with a soap pesticide or horticultural oil.

If the plant foliage is covered with a white powder this means your blue salvias are infected with powdery mildew disease. To prevent further spreading and a relapse, quickly separate the sick plants from the good ones and use a fungicide on all plants and their surroundings.

Apart from the said pest infestation and disease, your blue salvia cultivation can experience some complications due to too much watering and fertilizing. However, you can avoid these issues by simply caring for the plants the right way.

Wrapping Up 

Blue salvias are popular plants for gardens and landscapes due to their eye-catching flowers and minty scent.  They require low maintenance which is a bonus factor since you don’t need to be a gardening expert to grow them. With a little basic knowledge, effort, and time, your plants will soon add that fresh summer and spring vibe to your garden.