The Q&A Archives: Salvia 'oceana' looks sick

Question: I live in inland Oceanside, CA and planted a beautiful sage or salvia with small blue blossoms. It was very healthy but quickly became ragged and pale with no more growth or blossoms. It was planted in a protected bed outdoors (full sun) in front of cannas and marigolds. The cannas are fine but the marigolds look brownish although I water them every two to three days. Should I cut back the salvia? I have put out snail bait repeatedly to control snails because that's part of the problem but I haven't seen any recently. Help! I love this plant.

Answer: You can keep your salvia looking terrific if you deadhead when the flowers are spent. Deadheading promotes a longer bloom period; snip off spikes to side branches; cut stems back to the basal foliage to encourage a late-summer rebloom. Marigolds will benefit from deadheading, as well. They are annual plants, with the sole purpose of flowering and setting seeds. Once they've set seeds, they will die. The best way to keep them flowering over the longest period possible is to pinch or prune off the flowers just as they start to age, but before they have a chance to set seeds.

Best wishes with your lovely garden!

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