in Tucson, Phoenix,
Arizona and California

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, Arizona and California

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Growing Salvia microphylla: Littleleaf Sage

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Form: Herb.
Lifespan: Perennial.
Leaf retention: Evergreen in frost-free regions.
Growth rate: Moderate to rapid.
Mature Size: 2-3' high and wide.
Flowers: Red to pink to white depending on cultivar, similar to Salvia greggii in shape. The flowers of the cultivar 'Hot Lips' will be red, red and white, or white, depending on the temperature during flower bud formation. High temperatures result in all white.
Bloom: Fall, heaviest in winter, sporadically throughout spring.
Fruit: Up to four tiny seeds at the base of each dried calyx (cup-like structure that holds the flower and ovary).
Leaves: Green, small, almost triangular, toothed edges, edible, aromatic.
Stems: No thorns, herbaceous.
Wildlife: Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: Arizona and Mexico.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 8-10. This plant is killed to the ground by hard freezes but will come back from its roots.
Heat tolerant: Somewhat.
Drought tolerant: Yes, in part shade.
Sun: One-quarter to three-quarters shade. Avoid full sun and full shade.
Water once established: Once or twice a month in part shade. Weekly in nearly full sun. Over watering results in a leggy appearance.
Soil: Well drained, pH 6.1-7.8 (slightly acidic to slightly alkaline).
Prune: After the last frost, or early winter in frost-free zones, trim to shape. Do not remove more than one-third of the growth.
Litter: Low except for winter cleanup.
Propagation: Dividing the rootball, seed, layering.
Uses: Ornamental. For culinary mint plants, see Low Water Culinary Herbs.

This plant is a member of the Mint family (Lamiaceae). Another common name is Baby Sage. This plant easily cross-pollinates with other salvias, especially Salvia greggii, making identification difficult. Some cultivars of this species have leaves with a pleasant black current taste used for making tea. 'Hot Lips' is not one of them.

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Latest update: May, 2020.

Salvia microphylla: Littleleaf Sage

Salvia microphylla: Littleleaf Sage
Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips'