- botanical name: Salvia officinalis
- perennial zones 5-9
- height 18-30″
- spacing 15-20″ apart
- full sun tolerant
- dry-average soil
- flower color light purple flowers
- uses in garden: great in containers, cut foliage, drought tolerant, fragrant
- use in meat dishes, soups, stuffing, sausage, aids in digestion
- attracts bees and butterflies
- deer resistant
Sage is a warm, fragrant herb and the smell of it is likely to evoke memories of childhood and large family gatherings. It is the primary flavor in stuffing, which is traditionally prepared during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Its taste is extremely complementary to meats, especially poultry. Sage is delicious with dairy products as well, especially in sauces with eggs, butter, or cheeses. Sage works well in marinades as well. Find great Sage recipes here!
Sage is reputed to improve memory, and a ‘Sage’, or wise man, is one who has a long memory and preserves his community and its stories.
Sage has antiviral, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Its scent and flavor are particularly complementary to Lavender, Rosemary and Thyme, and it is not uncommon to find hygiene and cosmetic products that contain some combination of these herbs.
Sage is a wonderful asset in the garden. The plant itself has a nice mounding habit when pruned properly and bears delicate flower spikes in the late spring and summer which attract bees and are beautiful in mixed bouquets. The foliage is thick and soft with a wooly appearance. All of the Sage varieties like well-drained soil, are drought tolerant, and a great choice for mixed pots. Sage will become quite woody after a year or two so plants should be replaced every four or five years. However, one unique variety, the delightful ‘Pineapple’ Sage is an annual and true to its name, smells of sweet pineapple bearing lovely red flowers.
Which Sage variety is right for you? View a summary of all the varieties together.
Common Sage plants are also available. Purchase them here.
Sage seed stores poorly. Before planting a large amount you should test for good germination rates. Sow seed directly into fine garden soil or start indoors early, then transplant in spring when all danger of frost has passed. Spread seed on warm soil and cover with 1/8-1/4 inch fine soil. Seeds will germinate in 7-21 days. Once plants are three inches tall, thin and space plants 12 inches apart.
Preferred method: propagate from soft-wood cuttings or by root division. If you do divide, use the outer, newer growth for replanting.
To harvest: fresh is always best. Leaves should be stripped before the sage plant flowers. If you pinch the flowers off during the growing season, you will be able to harvest more leaves. To store, chop the leaves finely and add a little water, freezing the mixture in ice cube trays. Or mix the finely chopped leaves into softened butter for a delicious spread for bread.
You can also dry the stems by gathering them in bunches, hanging them on drying racks out of direct sunlight. Once completely dry, strip leaves from stems and store in airtight containers. Dried sage has a stronger flavor, but a different taste, than the fresh.