- Author: Polly Nelson
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Polly Nelson UCCE Master Gardener
Common name: Salvia or sage
Scientific name: Pictured is Salvia microphylla x chamaedroides ‘Christine Yeo'
Planting area: USDA 7-24
Size: This specific species, 12-18” tall, 3-4 feet wide
Bloom season: Mid-spring to late fall
Exposure: Full sun or part shade
Pruning needs: Deadhead to promote re-blooming.
Water needs: Moderate until established, then minimal; however, it blooms better with additional water in summer.
Snapshot: Salvias are rich in diversity and are perfect for our climate, as they can thrive in dry conditions. Salvias, also referred to as sages, are the largest genus within the Lamiaceae (mint) family. Salvia varieties are distinguished by characteristics including leaf size, color, texture, and shape; growth habit (mounding vs upright, for example); and flower shape and color. All Salvias do, however, have a squared stem just as all the other members of the mint family.
Two distinct Salvia species have merged to form the hybrid ‘Christine Yeo' (pictured). Salvia microphylla has dark green, oval tooth-edged leaves, with shades of red flowers. Salvia chamaedroides has narrow, half-inch, gray-green leaves with dark blue flowers. Both are native to northern Mexico.
Which brings us back to the pictured hybrid, ‘Christine Yeo', featuring bright green, textured, oval leaves on square stems and beautiful purple flowers. It reminds me of two parents producing a child with wonderfully blended characteristics!
Plant ‘Christine Yeo' in soil with good drainage. Soggy roots are prone to disease and will not withstand freezing winter temperatures. If soil is heavy, work in organic matter to improve drainage. Plant in full sun if your summer temperatures are mild. Otherwise, plant in partial shade. ‘Christine Yeo' is a mounding salvia whiles other varieties are upright or prostrate creepers. Give this mounding variety enough space to develop and spread. Water deeply once a month during summer until the plant is established. Do not fertilize, as excessive growth can weaken the plant, invite aphids, and promote root rot. Encourage new growth with a hard prune in late winter or early spring when weather is cool. Shape during the growing season by pinching stem tips or cutting back stems by no more than one-third.
Propagation is done by division or by taking softwood cuttings early spring from vigorous non-flowering shoots. Alternatively, you may also collect seeds from pods at the base of flower spikes.
Explore the many varieties of Salvias to add color and texture to your low maintenance landscape!
Advice to Grow By Workshops
Our next Advice to Grow By Workshop will be October 21st, 2023, at 10:00 to 12:00 p.m. in our Garden of the Seven Sisters Demonstration Garden at 2154 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. The topic will be “Vertical Vegetable Gardening.” The workshop is free and open to the public. Docents will be available after the workshop until 1:00 pm. If inclement weather, the workshop will be canceled.
You can view workshops on Instagram live at slo mg or visit our You Tube channel at “San Luis Obispo County UC Master Gardeners.”
UCCE Master Gardener Helpline offices:
San Luis Obispo: 805-781-5939 (Monday and Thursday 1:00 to 5:00)
Arroyo Grande: 805-473-7190 (Wednesday 10:00 to 12:00)
Templeton: 805-434-4105 (Wednesday 9:00 to 12:00)