The Q&A Archives: Hot Lips Sage plant - dry/yellow stems and leaves

Question: I purchased a Hot Lips sage plant in May. It is in a container on our deck which gets full sun during the day (when there is sun in Seattle!) The plant was thriving with lots of blossoms and beautiful green foliage. The hummingbirds and bees loved it! In the last few weeks, the plant appears to be drying up and losing all its leaves and blossoms. It looks very forlorn with long stringy vines, but no foliage. The leaves appear yellow to brown, as if they are drying out before falling off the branch. Am I over watering, under watering or is it too hot? Please help, it is my favorite plant!! Thanks.

Answer: Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips' is native to Mexico and loves dry heat; high humidity can cause the foliage to collapse. I know you've recently had some hot weather in Seattle so I wonder if the container it is planted in is in direct sunshine. Summer sun can overheat a container and literally bake the roots. So, while your sage plant loves full sunshine, it won't tolerate hot feet. I'd cut the plant back to healthy stems and then group some more containers around to shade the container from hot summer sunshine. With any luck at all your sage will recover and once again grace your deck with beautiful color. Hope so!

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