The fire sage delights every garden lover because of its brightly colored, mostly fiery red flowers, which adorn the plant continuously between May and October. It is also very suitable for laypeople or gardeners who do not have a green thumb. The Salvie also grows in places where some other plants can no longer be cultivated due to the hot solar radiation and the scarce water resources.

Location & profile

The fire sage is very common as an ornamental plant in the garden and on the balcony. The lighter and sunnier its location, the more luxuriant it grows. The bushy plant makes almost no demands on the soil.

  • Light requirement: full sun, light penumbra
  • Flowering period: May to September
  • Colors: fire red, lilac, rose, rarely white
  • Height: 30-40 centimeters
  • Soil: well permeable to water, containing humus
  • Can also be cultivated on chalky, moist stone soils.
  • Mix in sand in heavy soils and create drainage if necessary.
  • Planting in pots: The pots must have holes through which the excess water can run off.

Regardless of whether it is in a sunny location or a place in the light penumbra – there is one thing the otherwise frugal fire sage doesn’t like at all: strong winds and heavy downpours. In such a place, the gardener will not get much pleasure from his plant, since it will only take care of itself and eventually wither.


Fire sage is a plant that is generally quite uncomplicated and easy to care for. The plant, which belongs to the sage species, but otherwise has little in common with them, is particularly popular, also on balconies and terraces.

The fire sage is a very frugal plant. It makes few demands on its location as well as its maintenance, which is why it is also suitable for laypeople and even for those gardeners who like to neglect their plants a little. Except for waterlogging, which it cannot tolerate at all, it takes almost no faults at all.

  • Water requirement: low to medium (may also dry out for a short time).
  • Fertilizing: not at all if the soil has a good nutrient content, otherwise rather spartan.

In general: If the fire sage is fertilized, for example with a liquid fertilizer, the dosage should always be much more diluted, as recommended on the packaging.

To cut

Since the fire sage is a rather bushy plant that rarely grows more than 30 centimeters high, a shaping or growth-limiting cut is usually not necessary. However, if the plant does not want to become bushy, the new shoots can be shortened slightly so that it branches out more. After the first flowering in May, a cut of the withered shoots leads to the formation of new buds, which means that the flowering period can be extended until the first frosts in autumn. The gardener can enjoy the bright red inflorescences for months without much effort. However, if you want to propagate your firethorn with seeds, you should stop cutting the faded from August, so that the seeds have enough time to fully develop and mature.

Propagation by seeds

Of course, the fire sage can be bought ready-made at the nursery, but since it can also simply be grown from seeds, this is not absolutely necessary. A wide variety of colors are available in seed sachets for little money in stores. If you already have your own plants in the garden, you can simply harvest the seeds after the last flowering and sow them again in spring. If stored in a dark and dry place, they can germinate for several years.
With a little skill, it is easy to grow all kinds of plants from seeds at home. There are a few tricky species, but the fire sage is not one of them. Most flowers can be grown in the room when it is still wintry and frosty outside. Due to this time advantage, the plants usually bloom much earlier than those sown outdoors.

Required materials:

  • Indoor greenhouse (mini greenhouse)
  • Alternatively plant bowls or flower pots
  • Possibly a sheet of glass or a transparent bag to cover it up
  • Water sprayer
  • Growing substrate, cactus soil or Kokohum potting soil

The most important thing for a good growing medium is a low nutrient content and good water permeability. In addition, it must not contain any spores from fungi or other pathogens and, if possible, no weed seeds. That makes the substrate a bit tricky. All requirements are usually met by potting soil (mixed with a little sand if necessary), cactus soil and coconut, which is made from the fibers of the coconut.

How to sow

  • Time (preculture): February to April
  • Mini greenhouse, seed trays or flower pots
  • Moisten the substrate slightly before sowing.
  • Sow seeds further apart or in rows.
  • Never sow the individual seeds too densely (this will cause problems later when singling out).
  • Location: bright, but without direct sunlight.
  • Germination temperature: 20-25 degrees (heat germinator)
  • Germination time: 7-10 days.
  • Keep the greenhouse ventilation flaps closed.
  • When growing in a pot: put a plastic bag over it and poke a few holes.


After about two weeks, all of the seeds should have germinated. Now the ventilation flaps of the greenhouse can be opened. A few more holes are also cut in the plastic bags that can be used as an alternative. In addition, from now on it is essential to ventilate thoroughly once every day so that no mold forms.

The plants must continue to be light and must not be exposed to direct sunlight even now. From this point on, watering must also be carried out from time to time. This is where the water sprayer comes in. A water sprayer is much better than a watering can so that the soil with the tiny plant is not washed away. In addition, dosing the small amount of water with the water sprayer is much easier. The only thing that is sprayed is that the soil is slightly damp. It should never be really wet, because then fungi will multiply or the young plants will rot due to the waterlogging.

Since the light on the windowsill comes from the side, it is advisable to turn the greenhouse or planter occasionally. Otherwise the plants will grow in one direction and will be crooked later.

Prick out

When the small fire sage plants have grown a few centimeters after a few weeks and they can be comfortably grasped with your fingers (without damaging them), they are planted in individual pots.

  • Take the plants out of the planter bowl together with the soil.
  • Place on a coaster, tray, or newspaper.
  • Carefully loosen the soil around the individual plants with a wooden stick.
  • Pull apart slightly and separate individual plants with roots and soil.
  • Fill a slightly larger flower pot with soil.
  • Put earth in.
  • Press lightly or place firmly on the surface several times.
  • Dig a planting hole with your fingers or a wooden stick.
  • Use fire sage.
  • Not deeper than before!
  • Carefully press the earth down.
  • Pour on (with spray bottle).
  • Continue to cultivate light and relatively warm.
  • The temperature can be lowered to 20-22 degrees.

After about eight weeks, the plants are ready for them to be used to outdoors a little on nice days. However, they should not move into their final location permanently until mid-May (after the ice saints) so that no late night frosts are to be feared. It usually takes around 9-10 weeks from seed to first bud formation.

By the way: The fire sage is one of the plants that germinate both in the dark under a thin layer of soil and in the light. Therefore, contradicting information may be listed on some seed packs. In technical jargon one often finds the expression: germination promoted by light. This means that the seeds do not necessarily need light to germinate, but the light is favorable for germination. What does that mean for sowing such seeds? There are two ways that both lead to success:

  1. Seeds and very carefully cover with a little soil. This should be as fine-crumbly as possible and not contain any large chunks.
  2. The seeds are scattered on the substrate without covering them with soil. In order for the seeds to get enough of the moisture in the soil, they have to be pressed (leveled) firmly onto the soil with a flat object (for example, a wooden board).


The fire sage is a perennial plant, but unfortunately it is not hardy in the local regions. Although it is possible to dig up the plant and hibernate it in a sheltered and bright place, most gardeners shy away from the effort, as new fire sage plants can easily be grown from the seeds in spring. If you still want to overwinter your fire sage:

  • Dig up plants in autumn (bedding plants)
  • Plant in a suitable pot with saucer.
  • Compensate for any missing soil.
  • Location: bright (no direct sunlight)
  • Temperature: 5-10 degrees
  • Just keep it slightly moist.

In locations where there are no severe frosts in winter, the Salvie can also spend the winter outside with a little protection in the form of brushwood or leaves.

Diseases and pests

If the fire sage is in an optimal location and does not have to deal with waterlogging, it proves to be very robust. If, on the other hand, it is drafty, in the rain or has wet feet, it is often attacked by pests such as aphids, spider mites or whitefly. If you don’t want to spray against sucking insects with chemical agents, you can get rid of the pests with a mixture of soap or washing-up liquid in water. In order to also combat the young animals that hatch from their eggs after a while (up to two weeks), the soapy water should be sprayed regularly and for a period of at least two to three weeks.

The fire sage is also suitable for gardeners who are not necessarily blessed with the green thumb. Its low water and fertilizer requirements make it very easy to care for. Otherwise, the fire sage is quite undemanding. If it is in a sunny location in the garden or on the balcony and care is also taken to prevent waterlogging, it only needs to be watered from time to time. Then it delights the gardener from May to the first frosts in autumn with its fiery red, purple or white flowers.

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