Why Is My Hot Lips Plant Dying? Tips for Rescuing Your Dying Salvia mycrophylla Plant

With tiny, bright red blooms that sprout up from tall slender stems, the hot lips plant is a classic hummingbird plant, attracting hummingbirds and other pollinators with both its bold colors and its intense fragrance.

Those bright red blooms turn white at the tips as the season waxes on, making it a fun plant to cultivate in your home or office. These attractive qualities are just a couple of reasons it is so hard to imagine losing such a lovely plant, which is why if your hot lips plant appears to be dying, you surely want to get it on the mend quickly.

A Hot Lips Plant Is a Great Choice for Your Home or Office

A Hot Lips Plant Is a Great Choice for Your Home or Office 

The hot lips plant is not just physically attractive to humans, it is also a form of sage, so it can be used medicinally, as well. Across cultures, sage has been dried and burned for cleansing energy, and even ingested.

In its native Mexico, the flowers and leaves are dried and infused as a tea to make “mirot de montes,” a tea to reduce fevers and coughs. In your home or office, this plant will clean the air by absorbing the carbon dioxide during the day and releasing oxygen at night.

It is even great for feng shui energy, as sage plants are seen in eastern cultures as especially positive and beneficial.

Signs of a Dying Hot Lips Plant

The most common signs of a dying hot lips plant include:

  • Crispy leaves
  • Yellow leaves
  • Brown spots on leaves
  • Mushy stems and leaves
  • Soggy soils
  • Visible pests

Common Causes of a Dying Hot Lips Plant

The most common causes of a dying hot lips plant are:

  • Not enough water
  • Too much water
  • Not enough sun
  • Too much sun
  • Pests
  • Extreme temperatures

Watering Needs of a Hot Lips Plant

Native to the dry, arid regions of Mexico, the Salvia mycrophylla is drought tolerant, and as such does not need a ton of water. In fact, one of the most common causes of death is overwatering. So be sure you learn to check your soil regularly. Stick your finger about 1 inch into the soil. If the soil is moist, you can leave it for now. If it feels fully dried out, you can water it.

For more tips on watering plants, check out my article common watering mistakes you’re making that are killing your plant.

Am I Underwatering My Hot Lips Plant?

It is unlikely you are underwatering your hot lips plant. If you are, however, you may notice the soil getting dried out and the stems and leaves drying up, getting crispy, and even snapping off.

Restoring Water to Your Underwatered Hot Lips Plant

If you do find you are underwatering your Salvia mycrophylla, first check to be sure the plant is still alive.

Bend a stem and see if it still has green, moist life under the outer brown skin. If it does, it is likely still alive. If the stems snap in half, chances are good the plant is already dead.

For a hot lips that is still alive, simply begin watering the soil until it runs through to fully soak the soil. Then get onto a regular watering schedule.

Am I Overwatering My Hot Lips Plant?

If you are having watering problems, it is more likely you are overwatering your plant. You can see signs of this in soggy soil, wilted and limp leaves, and mushy stems. Pests flying around wet soil are also a sign of root rot caused by overwatering.

Restoring Balance to Your Overwatered Hot Lips Plant

To restore an overwatered hot lips plant, you will likely need to remove the entire root ball. Lay the root ball on a screen and cut away all dead and mushy stems. Then leave the root ball in the sun on the screen until it has fully dried out.

Repot the root ball in fresh soil and get on a regular watering schedule.

Soil Needs of a Hot Lips Plant

The hot lips plant needs a nutrient rich soil, so be sure to invest in a healthy indoor plant soil if you are going to grow this plant indoors.

Soil Drainage Needs for a Hot Lips Plant

The soil for a hot lips plant also needs to drain well and regularly. It should not sit in soggy soil.

Resolving Soil Drainage Issues for a Hot Lips Plant

If you notice that your soil stays wet for a long time, consider moving it closer to a sunny window, so it can dry out more quickly. Also consider placing the soil on top of pebbles placed in the bottom of your well-draining pot, so the soil never sits in water.

Lighting Needs of a Hot Lips Plant

The Salvia mycrophylla calls for abundant sunlight. It may tolerate partial shade, but it should definitely not sit in indirect sunlight or full shade.

Resolving Lighting Issues for a Hot Lips Plant

Perhaps the biggest issue with growing a hot lips plant indoors is the sunlight. You want to be sure your hot lips gets abundant, direct sunlight.

If you notice the leaves are wilting or the color is lackluster, or even if the flowers fail to bloom, the plant likely needs more sunlight. Place it in a larger window with more direct sunlight and work from there.

Pests or Diseases that Can Cause Issues with a Hot Lips Plant

The hot lips plant is prone to common plant pests like aphids and mealy bugs. If you notice these bugs hanging in or around your plant, and your plant has not developed root rot, simply spray the plant liberally with neem oil to get the bugs off. Repeat this process several times a week until the bugs are gone and don’t come back.

Fake Hot Lips Plants May Be an Additional Consideration

Fake Hot Lips Plants May Be an Additional Consideration 

Finally, if you feel like you just can’t bring this plant back to life or don’t have the time or energy to keep up with it, you can always invest in a fake hot lips plant. It is still a beautiful addition to your home or office and will provide most of the benefits you would get from the real thing with little maintenance involved.

And if you’re worried you will be off-trend for owning a fake plant, check out my article on whether artificial plants and flowers are tacky.

What do you think? Have you had any experience bringing a hot lips plant back to life? Let me know what worked for you in the comments. I love to hear from my readers.

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