How To Grow & Care For Hot Lips Salvia

Hot Lips Salvia

Hot Lips Salvia, also known as Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’, is a dazzling and colorful perennial plant that has gained popularity among gardeners for its unique appearance and easy care. The plant’s two-toned flowers, which often have a red upper lip and a white lower lip, give it a look that resembles “hot lips.” This visually striking feature makes it a focal point in many gardens.

The plant’s flowering season lasts from late spring until the first frost in the fall, providing an extended period of vibrant color. As a member of the sage family, it is not only attractive but also fragrant, with a pleasant scent that attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators. It’s a versatile plant that can be utilized as a border, in containers, or as part of a mixed perennial bed.

Native to the Southwest United States and Mexico, Hot Lips Salvia thrives in a variety of conditions, making it an accessible choice for gardeners in different regions. It is drought-tolerant once established, frost hardy, and generally a low-maintenance plant. Below, we explore the various aspects of growing and caring for this fascinating perennial.

Common NamesHot Lips Salvia, Texas Sage
Botanical NameSalvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’
Plant TypePerennial
Mature Size2 to 3 feet tall and wide
Sun ExposureFull sun
Soil TypeWell-drained soil
Hardiness Zones7-10
Native AreaSouthwest United States, Mexico

Hot Lips Salvia Care

Hot Lips Salvia is admired for its low-maintenance nature, thriving in full sun and well-drained soil. Regular watering is necessary during the first growing season to establish a deep root system. Once established, it’s relatively drought-tolerant.

Mulching can help retain soil moisture and suppress weeds. Though it’s not usually necessary to fertilize this plant, a light application of a balanced fertilizer in early spring can promote more vigorous growth. Pruning after the first flush of blooms can encourage further flowering.

Light Requirement for Hot Lips Salvia

Hot Lips Salvia thrives in full sun, requiring at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily. While it can tolerate some shade, insufficient sunlight may lead to weak growth and fewer blooms.

Soil Requirements for Hot Lips Salvia

Well-drained soil is crucial for Hot Lips Salvia. It can adapt to various soil types, including sandy, loamy, or clay soils, as long as the drainage is good. Avoiding waterlogged conditions will prevent root rot.

Water Requirements for Hot Lips Salvia

While Hot Lips Salvia is relatively drought-tolerant once established, regular watering during the first growing season is essential. Thereafter, it requires only occasional watering, making it suitable for water-conserving landscapes.

Temperature and Humidity

Hot Lips Salvia is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures but thrives in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 10. It is not highly sensitive to humidity levels but prefers dry to moderate humidity.


Hot Lips Salvia generally does not require regular fertilization. However, an application of a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer in early spring can stimulate more vigorous growth and flowering.

Pruning Hot Lips Salvia

Pruning after the first flush of blooms encourages a more prolonged flowering season. Cutting back the plant by about one-third can help maintain a compact shape and stimulate new growth.

Propagating Hot Lips Salvia

Propagating Hot Lips Salvia can be done through stem cuttings, division, or layering. Early summer is the best time to take softwood cuttings, while division can be performed in early spring or fall.

How To Grow Hot Lips Salvia From Seed

Growing Hot Lips Salvia from seed is possible but may not always produce plants with the same characteristics as the parent. Sow the seeds in early spring, indoors or outdoors, in well-drained soil.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases


Aphids can sometimes be a problem but are usually controlled with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Common Problems With Hot Lips Salvia

Leggy Growth

Insufficient sunlight can lead to leggy growth. Ensure proper sun exposure to maintain a compact, bushy habit.

Pro Tips

  1. Plant in full sun for the most vibrant flower color and bushy growth.
  2. Use Hot Lips Salvia as a border plant or in mixed perennial beds to add a splash of color.
  3. Consider incorporating this plant in a pollinator-friendly garden, as it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
  4. Prune after the initial blooming period to encourage further flowering and maintain shape.