Salvia, Baby Sage, Blackcurrant Sage, Delta Sage, Graham's Sage, Little Leaf Sage 'Hot Lips'

Salvia microphylla

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Salvia (SAL-vee-uh) (Info)
Species: microphylla (my-kro-FIL-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Hot Lips
Synonym:Salvia microphylla
» View all varieties of Salvias
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Tropicals and Tender Perennials


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade



Bloom Color:


White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Late Fall/Early Winter

Blooms repeatedly



This plant is resistant to deer


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From softwood cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Foliage Color:

Medium Green

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Auburn, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama

Buckeye, Arizona

Gold Canyon, Arizona

Queen Creek, Arizona

Cabot, Arkansas

Alpine, California

Berkeley, California

Carlsbad, California

Citrus Heights, California

Clayton, California

Clovis, California

Crescent City, California

Davis, California

El Cerrito, California

Fairfield, California

Fontana, California

Fremont, California

Hemet, California

Irvine, California

Kenwood, California

Knights Landing, California

Lemoore, California

Lemoore Station, California

Los Angeles, California(2 reports)

Miranda, California

Mission Viejo, California

Oakland, California

Oakley, California

Pasadena, California

Penn Valley, California

Poway, California

Redding, California

San Jose, California

San Leandro, California

Shingletown, California

Sonoma, California

Stockton, California

Ventura, California

Walnut Creek, California

Grand Junction, Colorado

Wilmington, Delaware

Brooksville, Florida

Gainesville, Florida

Lake City, Florida

Naples, Florida(2 reports)

Niceville, Florida

Pensacola, Florida

Riverview, Florida

Wellborn, Florida

Winter Park, Florida

Yulee, Florida

Atlanta, Georgia

Augusta, Georgia

Clarkesville, Georgia

Cordele, Georgia

Cornelia, Georgia

Guyton, Georgia

Harlem, Georgia

South Amana, Iowa

Hebron, Kentucky

Bel Air, Maryland

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Billings, Montana

Lincoln, Nebraska

Stromsburg, Nebraska

Ocean Grove, New Jersey

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Columbus, North Carolina

Elizabeth City, North Carolina(2 reports)

Fuquay Varina, North Carolina

Kannapolis, North Carolina

Morehead City, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina(2 reports)

Saint Pauls, North Carolina

Edmond, Oklahoma

Hugo, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Lake Oswego, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Salem, Oregon

Sutherlin, Oregon

Columbia, South Carolina

Conway, South Carolina

Florence, South Carolina

Ladys Island, South Carolina

North Augusta, South Carolina

North Charleston, South Carolina

Alpine, Texas

Arlington, Texas(3 reports)

Austin, Texas(2 reports)

Bryan, Texas

Bulverde, Texas

Cibolo, Texas

Conroe, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Fate, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas(2 reports)

Garland, Texas

Houston, Texas

Iredell, Texas

Katy, Texas

Kerrville, Texas(2 reports)

New Braunfels, Texas

New Caney, Texas

Pflugerville, Texas

Port Neches, Texas

Princeton, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Spring, Texas

Spring Branch, Texas

Kaysville, Utah

Roy, Utah

Alexandria, Virginia

Arlington, Virginia

Brandy Station, Virginia

Portsmouth, Virginia

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Bothell, Washington

Cathan, Washington

Concrete, Washington

Issaquah, Washington

John Sam Lake, Washington

Kalama, Washington

North Marysville, Washington

Olympia, Washington

Poulsbo, Washington

Priest Point, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Shaker Church, Washington

Stimson Crossing, Washington

Sumner, Washington

Vancouver, Washington(2 reports)

Weallup Lake, Washington

Pewaukee, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 12, 2020, MaryArneson from Minneapolis, MN (Zone 4b) wrote:

I bought a Hot Lips Salvia in 2019 and planted it in a butterfly garden by the street in my urban setting in Minneapolis (Zone 4). It grew about 3 feet tall and flowered continuously all summer. When frosts threatened, I dug it up and put it in a south window, hoping to save someone seeds. I never managed to do that, but the plant flourished and bloomed through the winter. I took cuttings, and almost all of them rooted promptly in water. The cuttings were blooming by spring, and I gave at least a half dozen away while still having plenty to keep. I planted the original large mother plant in and the babesiosis around the garden. This plant seems to resist indoor insect pests. It is easier to root for than most other plants. I love the many color variations from pure white to pure red on the... read more


On Jun 2, 2017, Adrienneny from New Jersey 6b, NJ wrote:

All of them perished in our winters except for one in a peculiar, shaded, wet location. At first I didn't know it was Hot Lips because the flowers first appeared as solid red. As I learned from Plant Delights Nursery, microphylla means small leaves which is a great way to identify them. They flower heavy in spring, sporadically in summer, and heavy again in fall. Not my favorite salvia but definitely one to try for warmer locations especially.


On Apr 11, 2017, lsjogren from Vancouver, WA wrote:

I planted some "microphylla red" salvias, not the "hot lips" but I think probably virtually the same plant except all red flowers.

I planted them in the spring of 2016 in an area I was planting to be a hummingbird garden. I am in Portland, OR metro area, zone 8.

They grew vigorously in the summer, they looked great, and they were probably the most favorite flower of the hummingbirds.

But now in spring of 2017 they do not show much sign of life. Only a few remaining leaves on the existing branches, and no new growth coming up out of the ground.

I have had this same problem with two other salvias- Nuevo Leon and Indigo Spires. The nursery I got the Indigo Spires at said some years they don't survive the winter, so that one I wa... read more


On Mar 26, 2016, Voxann from Pflugerville, TX wrote:

Autumn Sages (I have 'pink' and 'hot lips') are one of my most favorite plants to grow here in the hot state of Texas. They thrive on little or no water but during the daily hottest days of summer (if receiving full sun), they need some water every one to two weeks in the evenings, allowing the water to not evaporate overnight. Otherwise, the leaves will start to lose its green color which is a sign of needing some water. When pruning, it's recommended to cut the stems at a straight cut instead of angle in which I've discovered this prune method for this type of plant. They're super sensitive to getting their stems broken by accident or the leaves will wilt and start dying. When it happens, prune them properly and they'll be fine. This is a lovely plant to enjoy in your garden once you kno... read more


On Jan 29, 2016, Ancolie88 from Innsbruck,
Austria (Zone 6b) wrote:

Salvia "Hot Lips" is one of my favourite sages and in some years its hardy here in Innsbruck/Tyrol... which I never thought woul be possible


On Aug 29, 2015, Nanthawat from Portland, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant has been blooming for me since I planted it in June; since then, it's grown over 10 times the size that got it.
It attracts hummingbirds. Too bad my neighbors all have lawns and barely any wildlife friendly plants otherwise there would be a lot more hummingbirds.


On Jun 10, 2015, CaliFaerie from Pasadena, CA wrote:

My one plant is about 2 years old now and is _covered_ in red, white, and red-and-white flowers. I trimmed it back about a month ago and it started flowering even more. There's almost always at least one hummingbird hovering around it. It's near a north facing wall, so gets no sun in the winter but is blasted by the worst of the valley summer heat, but it doesn't seem to mind, and it can go months without watering. Highly recommend for my zone.


On Apr 25, 2014, DisHammerhand from Fontana, CA wrote:

Star performer for me. I planted it under a London Plane tree. Sun or shade, it flowers prolificly. It can tolerate drought but looks much better with periodic water. Flower factory and hummingbird diner. Two years running I've had hummingbirds nest in the hedge next to the sage. When it heats up it flowers less then bursts back into bloom in Fall.

Makes huge thick weed smothering blanket. Conserves soil moisture for the tree it's growing under.

I am planting more of them this year.


On Jun 26, 2013, dirob2 from Sutherlin, OR wrote:

I live in western Oregon and when we moved into the house Hot Lips was in the garden. We enjoyed it very much for a few years and then one spring it was dead. We had no idea the name or plant type and searched for the last couple years online and at the stores. I tried describing it on online forums and no one came up with this plant. Today I found one at the local store. Now I know the name and if it should die back again I can replace it. We had had a harder winter than normal the year it died. We are zone 8ish. The bees just loved it and we are working hard to encourage the pollinators around us to be happy with all the bee die-offs and such so it is an important addition to our garden.


On Jun 23, 2013, mpabbott1 from (Mary) Poway, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

This plant grows like wildfire. I never water it, and apparently the little rain we get here is enough. Hummingbirds are always around this plant. We give it a hard trim in the winter.


On May 9, 2013, blumz from Trussville, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

Hot lips salvia is one of the most beautiful plants in my gardens. It is evergreen in my area - 8a. I had to move it a couple of times because it grew larger than the tag said. Each time I moved it, I cut it back and it came back more beautiful than before. So I now just make a practice of cutting it back to about 1-1/2 feet in early spring. It is full, lush and gorgeous. Grows to about 3-1/2 to 4 ft. tall and wide for me. Hummers love it and everyone who visits my gardens fall in love with it.


On May 4, 2013, rainiershadow from Lake Tapps, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I got this plant last year and it bloomed great! This year the leaves are coming out but I wonder if I should have pruned the tops of the branches? They are bare and it doesn't look like leaves will be forming so it seems the tops are dead. Is it too late to cut the tops of the branches where there are not leaves? It is now the beginning of May and I don't see any flowers coming yet? I am in Zone 8b Sumner WA


On May 2, 2013, loovejonesx from Durham, NC wrote:

Have had this flower for at least 6 years now around my mailbox here in zone 7b & it really seems to do better when it's ignored. There are years that it comes back with loads of buds, & years that it does nominally well, BUT IT ALWAYS PUT ON A PRETTY GOOD SHOW. I get white flowers, red flowers & the trademark red & white mix & it seems to thrive on hot days.


On Nov 5, 2011, XemaSab from Redding, CA wrote:

This is my favorite plant in my whole yard. I have 11 of them, and not only have they thrived on our 115 degrees in the summer and 45 inches of rain in the winter, they've done well in full sun areas, heavy shade areas (I planted Vinca in that corner and it died!), and everything in between, all on a xeric water regimen plus a nasty claypan!


On Apr 25, 2011, carlipop from Stromsburg, NE wrote:

I purchased a hot lips salvia last summer and love it! I live in Zone 5 so wasn't sure how the plant would do, but was pleasantly surprised when it grew to about 3 foot tall and consistently bloomed until early October when I pruned it and dug it up to bring inside for the winter. I currently have it waiting patiently for spring in my basement with sunlight coming in through a south window. It has new growth and is ready to bloom again! I would absolutely recommend this plant for other gardeners in Nebraska! It is beautiful.


On Apr 7, 2011, GreeneLady from Oak Island, NC (Zone 8a) wrote:

What can I say? This plant loves to be forgotten. I discovered this by accident when my sprinkler system malfunctioned while were were on vacation, so for 2 weeks in the heat of a dry Georgia summer, it got no water. When I came back, everything else in that flower bed was nearly dead, except this plant. It was not only surviving, it was THRIVING! I've never cut mine back. Here in zone 8, it still had a few blossoms going at Christmas time. I have not had any luck with propogation from cuttings. Dividing the root ball seems to be the only way to go for me.


On Mar 14, 2011, tulpen from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

I have a variety of different colored salvias including this one in my garden. They add beautiful color, butterflies, bees and hummingbirds love them (very important to me) once established they require low water and maintenance. I do prune regularly (but easy too) to keep them in shape and I think it encourages blooming. Also they don't require "fancy" soil and I personally don't fertilize even though that might be good. Sun to part/shade but the more sun the better. A favorite for me!


On Mar 14, 2011, LeslieT from Bellaire, TX wrote:

I grew this plant for several years and found it unattractive most of the time. I loved the blooms, which changed color depending on heat levels. However, no matter how I cut the plant back, it consisted mainly of stems with leaves clustered at the end of its woody stems. All you really saw was woody stems with a few blooms. I finally gave up on it.


On Mar 14, 2011, sllawrence from New Braunfels , TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have an established (4 year old) 'Hot Lips' salvia in the NW area of my garden in the Texas Hill Country. This past winter (2011), we had abnormally low and extended, dry hard freezes of 9 degrees, with windchills into the (minus) -2 degrees. This plant suffered cold damage but did not die back to the ground, and is coming back very nicely now.

One note of caution, this plant spreads! It puts out underground runners in an attempt to takeover a large area of the garden. I have been using the new clumps as passalong plants. I also add that I have had the occasional solid white and solid red bloom on this plant, as well as the bicolor 'hot lips' red and white. Intense heat doesn't faze it.


On Feb 26, 2011, bmmibmmi from Kenwood, CA wrote:

Anyone have prunning tips for the Hot Lips? My hedge grew profusely this year but now, in winter about half of the upper section has died back pretty far. How far shoudl I cut it back if at all and when?


On Oct 20, 2010, bbshouse from Billings, MT wrote:

I haven't seen this plant since I moved here from Texas in 1994. So I was excited when I was given 8 of these plants in April. The truck they had been on froze overnight. The store had thrown them away because they looked dead. A friend that worked there "rescued" them and brought them to me. I planted them, cut the dead branches back to the ground and watered them. Within 2 weeks they were blooming and now are 3 ft tall and approx 2-4 ft wide. They've bloomed non stop since May. I'm interested to see how they survive our Montana winter. If they come back next spring, I'll be dividing them next fall to share with all my friends.


On May 23, 2010, BJames1 from Elizabeth City, NC (Zone 8a) wrote:

Nice salvia! I love how the colors can change from solid red to solid white to a red-white combination! Blooms in mass in the spring and sporadically and in large flushes throughout the summer for me. A little leggy, but otherwise a great garden performer. What can I say? I will always fall for some 'Hot Lips.'


On Apr 17, 2010, HalfKneegrow from Oakland, CA wrote:

We grow this plant at my job in Berkeley, Ca and it does great, in ALL DAY sun. Gave it as a gift and it does great in San Francisco also, with much less sun. ..and those flowers? fuhgeduhboutit!


On Jan 20, 2010, hymenocallis from Auburn, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

I have had Salvia microphylla for several years and it survived a week and most of another one below freezing this past two weeks and it didn't flinch. I don't know what it's limits are bit 13 degrees didn't do anything but burn a few leaves on it. It is 4 ft x 8 ft. Still flowering and a great plant.


On Oct 21, 2009, Mr_LeFleur from Bothell, WA wrote:

A humming bird came to get nectar from the flowers just moments after I planted it:)
I haven't seen a humming bird up close in years.
The blooms are also bright and last a long time.
I can't wait to have a whole field of it in the future:)


On Jan 5, 2007, ladyschweig from Culpeper, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I bought two small pots of "Hot Lips" late last Spring. They were very cute. When the blooms decreased I was disappointed...until late summer and into the fall. The plants would not stop growing or blooming! I was so impressed I searched for more. I found a "Cherry Sage" that made a very nice partner. I now have develped a rage for sage and I am searching for a variety of colors. Hot Lips is still very dear to me, though.


On Nov 19, 2006, Marilynbeth from Hebron, KY wrote:

Grew it for the first time this season (found it at Lowe's) and I love it! It got more beautiful as season progressed. I don't know if I'll get any volunteers from it, but if it doesn't winter over, then I'll have to look and find another.


On Jun 9, 2006, lunavox from Seattle, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I live in metro Seattle, and I saw a hummingbird visit my container garden for the first time EVER to eat nectar from this salvia. Hummingbirds have been coming by regularly in the evening since this started blooming a month ago. It's great. :)


On Jun 8, 2006, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:

10F? Not true. A friend outside of town (average ten degrees cooler in the winter) on a windy hill grows her Salvia 'Hot Lips' in a Xeric Garden. I waited curiously over winter to see if they would return; Two of two have indeed survived a winter that saw at least 0F on her hill. Dry winters may help.

It blooms well with little water. Summer heat (100F+) and drought are not impairments. Most flowers are nearly pure carmine, some are "lipped."


On May 16, 2006, Leehallfae from Seattle, WA wrote:

In addition to being hardy in Garden Zone 7b (Seattle), it is a lovely plant.

Blooms in May, and the fragrant leaves are also very nice.


On Aug 23, 2005, grikdog from St. Paul, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

I just tried this this year. It does well in pots. I also took several cuttings this August which rooted almost immediately.


On Feb 2, 2005, librarianlanell from Spring, TX wrote:

The 28 degree dips during the winter didn't even phase this plant (just north of Houston.) Mine are planted in semi-shade in well drained soil. They get tons of water one month and none the next and look great!


On May 24, 2004, clantonnaomi from Iredell, TX wrote:

This plant is definitely hardy in Zone 8 - central Texas. I have had mine for a couple of years and they have not even died back to the ground. A wonderful salvia and the red and white blooms are so unusual!


On May 23, 2004, kviolette from Raleigh, NC (Zone 8a) wrote:

This plant is more cold hardy than indicated above. It wintered over in Raleigh, NC (Zone 7b/8a) after being planted in October. No winter protection other than whatever leaves fell onto it and was not cut back until April. It did die back nearly to the ground but it is growing fine now. Much more mature plants came through winter in the area with little die back.


On Jan 3, 2004, poozak from New Braunfels, TX wrote:

What a great plant in Deer Country. I drove away from our one gallon, planted a year ago and we never did a thing to keep it alive during the six month's absence. Big bushy three-footer now. I love this plant and plan to grow a bunch of it. Have fun! P.


On Aug 27, 2003, Happenstance from Northern California, CA wrote:

As the season progresses the flowers will be red/white, solid red, pinky red. This is normal for this cultivar and the same branches will also make the bi-color flowers. Makes for a real show of color.