Plant in the spring after all danger of frost has passed in a location that will receive full sun to partial shade. Space plants 16-18″ apart in dry to average soil that is well-drained. Plant height 20″. All of the sage varieties are drought tolerant, and a great choice for mixed pots.
During the spring and summer months it is good to use a regular liquid fertilizer or light compost mulch for optimal growth. Sage is a perennial in zone 5 and will become quite woody after a year or two so plants should be replaced every four or five years. Cut back severely in the spring before new growth appears. Attracts bees and butterflies to the garden. Deer resistant.
Sage, Elephant Ear salvia officinalis ‘Elephant Ear’
Elephant Ear sage is an upright Mediterranean variety with elongated, silvery-green leaves. It is one of the leading culinary sage varieties in Italy. Fully grown leaves can be up to 5″ long and 1-2″ wide and are full of sage flavor.
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 is often used as an ingredient in marinades.
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.
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.