Hands pruning a salvia plant
(Image credit: brusinski / Getty Images)

This week's Wednesday gardening guest blogger is Lee Miller, a landscape/garden designer, consultant, garden blog author and published book author ( A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer). She has been involved in the horticultural field since 1996 and started blogging so that she could share her love of gardening with others and has furthered her passion through a new interest in garden photography.

As a landscape professional one of the most often asked questions by many of my customers is, "What do I do with my salvia now that it is done blooming?" Very often when the salvia stalks start to turn brown it appears that the plants are dead but they are only finished with their first show. Here in the Northeast, Salvia bloom at the end of May into the end of June and require some deadheading once the months of July and August approach. A simple pruning technique will help your Salvia to bloom longer wherever you are located. By the way, if you are wondering what type of salvia this is, it is my favorite, Salvia 'May Night'. Its deep purple coloring and long blooming habit make it a welcome addition to any full sun garden. Now let's discuss how to prune your salvia for maximum bloom.

When your plants are starting to look a little less desirable than you prefer, it is time to deadhead. It is sometimes difficult to explain how to prune salvia so follow me on this. Take a look at any three fingers on your hand that are next to each other. When you prune your salvia you will be cutting out the center stalk that is done blooming. On each side of the center stalk you will see two other stalks with new buds and blooms forming. If there are blooms done on the two side stalks you can cut those out as well. Only cut the spent stalks and the new flowers will form. I usually get about three blooms out of my salvia throughout the summer and into the early fall. By the second or third bloom, you may want to give your plants a little plant food to give them a boost and add energy for the rest of the season. If your plants are brand new they may have been force bloomed, so for the first season you may only get one or two blooms but come next year you will be able to push out three blooms if you time your pruning right.

Now that you are ready to prune your salvia, the best time of day is either early morning or late afternoon or just when you need a little garden therapy. Pruning salvia can be both rewarding and therapeutic so pick the right time to perform this task! When the fall season arrives and winter is on its way, be sure to prune your salvia down to just two to three inches above the ground and add a little mulch around the plant for protection. With regular maintenance of your plants you will receive blooms to enjoy for the entire season. Now-back to my garden!