It is okay to cut back annual empire red salvia when the blossoms are spent?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Judith in Georgia: Salvia splendens ‘Empire Mix’ is a popular sun-loving annual. This mix is available in an array of colors but red seems to be the most sought after. These plants are prolific bloomers, and given the right growing conditions they will provide color in your containers or garden all summer long. As the blooms fade it is a good idea to remove them since it will encourage the plant to use its energy to promote more flowers. Spent flowers are not aesthetically pleasing either, so you have two good reasons to remove them. Take the flower stalk all the way back while leaving the foliage. The foliage is needed to collect nutrients in order to encourage new blooms. These annuals can reach 12-18 inches tall and should be spaced 6 to 8 inches apart. They will tolerate intense heat as long as they are given sufficient moisture and they will benefit from a weekly or biweekly dose of your favorite liquid soluble fertilizer. If you use a slow-release granular food you will not need to feed this often. If your salvia is planted in a container it will need to be watered daily as we get into the heat of the summer. If they are planted in the ground and Mother Nature does not provide moisture for a few days, you will need to hand water your annuals.