Salvia 'Cherry Chief'


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Item #: 2635

Zones: 7a to 10b, probably colder

Dormancy: Evergreen

Height: 36" tall

Culture: Sun to Part Sun

Origin: Hybrid

Pot Size: 3.5" pot (24 fl. oz/0.7 L)

This 1987 Rich Dufresne introduction is probably a cross between S. 'Furman's Red' and S. microphylla. The erect bush like habit to 3' wide is clothed with 1" narrow green leaves. Flowering begins in late spring with bright red flowers and continues thru summer and into the fall. This is one of the best of the summer blooming S. greggii/S. microphylla hybrids.


Salvia greggii and its close cousin Salvia microphylla and hybrids between the two, Salvia x jamensis, are woody shrubs. They bloom for about six months but are not self-cleaning and the spent flower stalks are retained until a tidy minded gardener comes along and trims them off. The peak time to do this is late winter. At this time the shrubs are cut back by a half to two thirds to remove the dead tops of the plant. This does not require precision. It is a method meant to allow quick clean up of these woody salvias. Of course, any totally dead stems should also be removed. The health of the plant will not be compromised if it is not cleaned up but one will be viewing the current year's flowers amongst last year's dead flower stalks. This is the only routine maintenance that these salvias need.

The selections of Salvia greggii, Salvia microphylla and Salvia x jamensis vary in their vigor. The most vigorous individuals might occasionally need to reined in where they have spread too far if space is limited. But these are the exception to the rule in these normally stationary plants. Excess plants can be dug out and replanted elsewhere if desired.

Growing Conditions:

Salvia greggii, Salvia microphylla and Salvia x jamensis are sun lovers; more sun the better. They are also drought tolerant but also tolerate wet spells if provided with adequate drainage:not excessive drainage, just any soil where water doesn't pool after a rain. They are often called "Autumn Sage" for their peak bloom is late summer into fall, though in the humid eastern US they tend to bloom continuously from spring into fall. Extended dry spells in summer can decrease blooming as is typical in their native range of Texas and Mexico.


The genus Salvia consists of about one thousand species. A few are annuals, most are perennial. The perennial species can be either herbaceous or woody. The woody perennial species are most often shrubs though there are some salvias that are trees. Gardeners from cold climates are often surprised to learn that some salvias are shrubs.

Natural Impact:

Salvia greggii, Salvia microphylla and Salvia x jamensis can be counted on for nearly six months of bloom in a wide range of color. They are the type of long blooming plant that are good foils for the show stoppers that come and go such as lilies that are in bloom for a few weeks. They are also highly favored by hummingbirds and other pollinators. These features and their low-maintenance make them very valuable part of a sunny garden, including a xeric garden.