All salvias enjoy a position of full sun. A south-facing aspect is ideal. They can cope in quite poor soils – in fact they prefer this to an unworked heavy clay.
Salvias are ideal for a coastal garden and are often a key plant in a drought garden.
Salvias of all types can be grown in containers. Some of the very long-flowering types such as Salvia greggii can be moved from the garden into the conservatory as flowers will continue into winter. Add horticultural grit to improve drainage and feed container-grown plants in spring. Plants grown in a garden soil don’t need feeding.
Add horticultural grit to a heavy soil before planting. Avoid planting these sun lovers too close to overhanging trees.
Salvias look spectacular when planted in a group. These wonderfully coloured flowering plants look at home in a tropical garden.
If growing tender types it may be easier to grow them in containers so they can be easily moved to a frost-free place before autumn frosts.
Salvia cuttings can be taken in April or in August or September. Remove non-flowering stems that are about 8cm long. Remove the lower leaves and trim each cutting just below a node. Insert cuttings into a pot of pre-watered cutting compost. Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag – try to avoid the bag touching the foliage.
Place cuttings in a cool greenhouse and put up shading to prevent scorching from strong sunlight. After three weeks cuttings should be ready to pot on.
Pests and diseases are rarely an issue for salvia growers. However, keeping plants through the winter can be tricky. Gardeners that have heavy clay soil are likely to lose plants in persistent wet weather.
It's worth remembering that salvias are Mediterranean plants and require a well-drained soil and full sun.
The care of salvias varies tremendously depending on the type you grow.
If growing annual types, they're simply lifted from a display before the first autumn frost and put on the compost heap. Hardy perennial types can be cut back hard in spring or autumn. Half-hardy herbaceous types can be cut back in autumn but must then spend winter in a frost-free place. If you're attempting to keep them outside, resist pruning until spring. Shrubby types should be lightly pruned in spring – prune these in autumn and new growth will form that can be hit by frost.
If you're not sure what salvia you're growing, leave pruning until spring. This will offer them some protection over winter.