So you’re having problems with your salvias? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. I have a few tips that will help you get your plants back on track. Salvia microphylla plants are lovely and simple to maintain, but they have one significant drawback: They tend to flop, wilt or even worse, die altogether. However, be rest assured that there are some things you can do to prevent this from happening:
Table of Contents
Problems with Salvias
So there are many contributing factors that may be causing your salvias to wilt or die. Salvias prefer to be in well-drained soil, so make sure you’re not giving them too much water. They also don’t like to be in soggy soil, as this will cause the roots to rot. Here are some of the main problems you will have:
- Excessive water around the plant’s roots
- Not enough water will stress the plant
- lack of sunlight
- Pruning isn’t being done frequently enough
- Pests such as aphids, spider mites or whiteflies
- Root rot from stagnent water
- Fungal diseases
Too much water
If you think that you are watering your salvias too frequently, try to water them less often and see if there is an improvement. Waterlogged soil can cause the roots of your plant to rot, so it is important to make sure the soil has a chance to dry out. It’s very likely that your salvia plant is drooping or flopping over because of this so make sure you keep an eye on it.
It sounds really obvious but make sure you’re not overwatering your plant. deciduous herbaceous salvias pretty much get the moisture they need from rainfall. However, one way to test if the plant needs water is to stick your finger in the soil, if it feels dry then it’s time to give it a drink.
Try and water the plant in the morning so that the leaves have time to dry before nightfall. This will help prevent fungal growth. If you think that your plant is suffering from root rot, try to replant it in fresh, well-drained soil. Remember, these plants are pretty drought tolerant, so try to refrain from watering too often.
Not enough water
If your salvias are not getting enough water then they will start to wilt and the buds will eventually turn brown and fall off. This is usually caused by a lack of moisture in the soil. Make sure your plant is getting enough water from rainfall. If you are concerned you are not getting enough rainfall, then there is no harm watering your salvias every now and again!
If you suspect a lack of water, give them a thorough soaking and keep watering on a regular basis until it rains, or until your salvias perk up.
A quick tip for watering onto extremely dry soil is to give the plants a drink, wait 5 minutes, and then water again. Because very dry soil becomes water resistant and can actually repel water, we wait a few minutes before watering to allow the first lot of water to soak in.
Not enough sunlight
Salvias adore lots of full sun and if they are not planted in a sunny enough part of your garden, they will start to suffer. Not only will they not flower as much, but the buds may start to turn yellow or brown.
An obvious one again – If your salvias are not getting enough sunlight then try moving them to a sunnier spot in your garden. If this is not possible, then you can try using artificial light by putting them in a pot in your greenhouse.
They’ve grown too large
Pruning is essential when it comes to salvias, and if you don’t do it often enough then they will become very leggy, weak and overgrown. This is because the plant is trying to produce as many purple flowers as possible, which can result in the plant becoming top-heavy and falling over.
This is a typical problem for UK gardeners attempting to overwinter salvias. While some are hardy, others are only semi-hardy, and even the hardy varieties can die off in these parts of the world during the winter.
Your best bet is to divide your plants in the fall and essentially split them into smaller plants. This way, they will be more manageable and you won’t have to worry about them getting too big. You can also try pruning them back hard in the fall, which will encourage them to produce new growth in the early spring.
These pests are all relatively small, but they can cause big problems for your salvias. They will suck the sap out of the plant, which can lead to stunted growth, a lack of flowers and eventually death.
If you think your plant is infested with aphids, you need to act fast. The best way to get rid of these pests is to blast them off with a strong jet of water from the hose. You can also try using a natural aphid vinegar spray which I have written an in-depth guide on how to make!
Spider mites attack salvias and cause their leaves to discolor because they feed on the plant’s sap. The upper surface of the leaf usually has small white dots as a result of this damage. If the infestation is allowed to progress, all of a leaf will become speckled white/yellow, sometimes with golden brown patches.
If you think your plant is infested with spider mites, you need to sort the problem out quickly. To get rid of spider mites, combine one part alcohol with ten parts water and spray both sides of the leaves. Wipe the leaves clean with a paper towel after spraying both sides.
These pests are small whiteflies that fly around when you disturb the plant. They feed off the sap of plants and can cause stunted growth, a lack of flowers and eventually cause your salvias to die.
Adult whiteflies can be destroyed with a solution of liquid dish soap and water, which is an inexpensive remedy that does not harm plants. Combine 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap and 1 cup water in a mixing jar until well blended. Saturate all infested plants with the solution, coating the leaves top and underside as well as the stems.
This is a fungal disease that can attack salvias and cause their leaves to turn yellow, brown or black. The affected leaves will then drop off the plant and if the problem is not treated quickly, it can kill the plant.
A very diluted milk solution (one-part fat-free milk to nine parts water) spritzed on plants that have had (or are susceptible to) whitemold is one popular route to take. A solution of baking soda or potassium bicarbonate may also be used.
Another way to prevent white mold is to make sure your salvias are receiving enough sunlight and air circulation. If you think your plant has white mold, you should remove any affected leaves and dispose of them. You can also try using a fungicide to treat the problem.
Gray mold is a fungus that causes brown or black blight of flowers, buds, leaves, and stems. Flowers and flower buds turn completely dark or blackened if afflicted. Brown splotches may develop on the petals of plants with large petals. Leaf spots are typically found near wounds or on leaves where an infected petal has fallen.
Ensuring good circulation is probably the best way to avoid gray mold. If you see any affected areas on your plant, you should remove them and dispose of them. You can also try using a fungicide to treat the problem.
This article provides a number of solutions to common problems that can affect salvias. These include aphids, spider mites, whiteflies and gray mold. I have also outlined other issues that can contribute to your salvia’s health such as overwatering and a lack of sunlight. So let’s summarise:
- Too much water surrounding the plant’s roots
- When the plant doesn’t have enough water, it will become stressed
- Sunlight deprivation
- Pruning isn’t being done enough
- Aphids, spider mites, or whiteflies are examples of pests that need to be removed to ensure your plant’s health
- Excess water creates root rot.
- The plant has a type of fungal disease