I’d like to plant tropical sage starter plants that I obtained from Florida in my Kentucky yard. However, will the plants survive the Kentucky winters? And if so, do I need to cut them back at the end of fall?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Donna: Tropical sage is a common name for many different varieties of Salvia. This is a large genus of plants that are available in a variety of colors and are a favorite among butterflies and hummingbirds. Any plant that is sold as a tropical is not winter-hardy for those of us gardening in Kentucky. There are some Salvia that are herbaceous perennials in our zone, but it does not sound like the plants you have purchased are winter-hardy. Was there a grower’s tag in the plants? They can certainly be outdoors for now but before the first frost arrives, bring your plants indoors and place them in a south-facing window or any space where they will receive good filtered light. Treat it like any other house plant and cut back on the water as well as food during the winter months. They will not likely bloom during this time, but the idea is just to keep them alive so that after May 10 they can be taken back outdoors and gradually acclimated to the full sun. This way they will not burn and the transition is less stressful on the plants. Depending on how many plants you have, you might experiment and plant one in the garden in a protected spot and see if it over-winters or re-seeds in the garden.