Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ Growing and Care Guide

salvia hot lips

Among the many garden treasures, Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ is one of those plants that consistently earns a double-take and is perfect in popular cottage garden settings. 

With its red and white bi coloured blooms that dance like tiny flames, it’s a perennial that brings sizzle to any garden setting.

Salvia ‘Hot Lips’: An Overview

Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ is a semi-evergreen perennial, prized for its unique, bicolour blooms and aromatic foliage. Native to Mexico, it’s a resilient plant, withstanding hot summers while adding a tropical vibrancy to your garden. 

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ also attracts a wide range of pollinators, making it an eco-friendly choice for any garden.

Growing Guide

Choosing Your Salvia ‘Hot Lips’

Choose a healthy plant with lush, vibrant foliage. Look for plants with fresh blooms to get a sense of the distinctive red and white flowers.


Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ enjoys a sunny, sheltered spot with well-drained soil. While it can tolerate a range of soil types, it prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil.

Caring for Your Salvia

This plant is relatively low-maintenance, but there are a few care tips that can help it thrive. Regular watering, particularly in dry spells, and feeding with a general-purpose fertiliser in spring, will promote healthy growth and plentiful blooming.

Top Tips for Flourishing Flowers

Watering and Feeding

In the heat of summer, ensure your plant receives ample water, but take care not to overwater. Feed with a balanced, slow-release fertiliser in early spring to support vigorous growth and blooming.


Apply a layer of mulch around the base of your plant in the spring. This helps retain soil moisture, suppresses weeds, and gradually improves the soil’s organic content.

How to Prune Salvia ‘Hot Lips’

Pruning is a vital aspect of care for this perennial. Conduct a substantial prune in early spring, cutting back the previous year’s growth to a few buds. A light prune in mid-summer, after the first flush of flowers, encourages a second round of blooming in the autumn.

Winter Care for Your Salvia ‘Hot Lips’

While Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ is generally hardy, it appreciates a bit of extra protection during harsh winter conditions. Consider adding a thick layer of mulch to protect the root system, and if grown in a pot, move it to a sheltered spot or indoors to protect it from severe frosts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are the flowers on my Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ all red or pure white?

The colour of the blooms can change depending on the temperature, with cooler conditions leading to more white flowers, while hotter conditions may produce more red blooms.

Is Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ deer resistant?

Yes, this plant is generally deer-resistant, making it a good choice for areas where deer are a common issue.

Can I grow Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ in a pot?

Absolutely! All Salvia plants grow well in pots, making it a fantastic choice for a patio or balcony and can enjoy full sun or partial shade, making it perfect for most spots in the house or garden. As discussed above, remember to bring indoors or provide winter protection against frost. 

How far to cut back hot lips plants?

When you’re wondering how far to cut back ‘Hot Lips’, the rule of thumb is to prune about one-third of the plant in late winter or early spring, just as new growth begins to emerge. You’ll want to make your cuts just above a pair of leaves to encourage branching. Remember, a well-pruned ‘Hot Lips’ will reward you with a spectacular summer display of vibrant, bicoloured flowers, and serve as a beacon for bees and butterflies. So, wield your secateurs with confidence and give your ‘Hot Lips’ the trim it deserves.

When to cut back hot lips plants?

Pruning your Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ should ideally be done in the later stages of winter or early spring, just as you start to see new growth emerging. By pruning at this time, you’re making way for the fresh, vigorous growth that spring brings, and giving your plant a tidy start to the new season. Be aware that in particularly cold areas, it’s wise to delay pruning until the risk of frost has passed, as fresh growth can be susceptible to frost damage. Always remember, timely pruning will help your ‘Hot Lips’ maintain its shape, encourage blooming, and lead to a healthier plant.

Are hot lips plants poisonous to dogs?

The good news is that the Salvia genus, which includes ‘Hot Lips’, is not listed as toxic to dogs by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). However, it’s always a good idea to discourage your pets from chewing on any garden plants, as individual reactions can vary. If you notice any unusual symptoms in your pet after they’ve been around your plants, it’s always wise to contact a vet.


Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ is a true marvel of nature, with its distinctive, vibrant blooms and enticing aroma. It’s a plant that brings a touch of the exotic to any garden, with the added benefit of being a haven for pollinators.

Growing and caring for this plant is a joy, and with our comprehensive guide, we hope you feel confident to include this dazzling plant in your garden. Remember, the key to successful gardening lies in observation and patience. Each plant has its unique set of requirements and, in return for our care, rewards us with a display of natural beauty that enriches our lives and spaces.