Salvia sage plant

(sal-vee' ah)

Common name: Garden/Common Sage

Family: Lamiaceae, Mint

Height x width: 18-24" x 18"

Growth rate: moderate

Foliage: 1-2" and half as wide with similar length petiole, opposite on square stems, elliptic, upper and lower surfaces softly pubescent, usually gray-green but variously colored; strongly aromatic

Flowers: lilic-blue in whorls, widely separated on upright raceme, summer

Hardiness: perennial, zones 4-8

Soil: well-drained

Light: sun

Pests and problems: root rots in wet soils, caterpillars, spider mites, whiteflies, aphids (insect pests, other than caterpillar, mainly indoors)

Landscape habit, uses: herb garden, containers, mid-border background plant, colored foliage types for accent, bee gardens; subshrub with erect to rounded growth habit

Culinary--pick leaves before flowering, dry slowly as in air; scatter in salads, mix in stuffing as for fatty meats as sage aids in fat digestion; combine in cooking with other strong flavors

Household--dried leaves among linens discourage insects, burn as incense to deodorize animal and cooking smells

Cosmetic--used in facial steams and astringent cleansing lotions, in rinses to condition and darken gray hair, in mouthwash and rubbed on teeth to whiten

Medicinal--leaves are used to aid digestion, for antiseptic and antifungal properties, as tea for colds and coughs, and in beer prior to use of hops; avoid prolonged use in large doses

Other interest: native to the Mediterranean; genus name from Latin salvare meaning to heal, refering to supposed properties of some species; valued for centuries, especially by Chinese, as an herb of longevity; used as a sacred herb in Roman ceremonies.

Other culture: cut back after flowering, prune frequently to promote growth and bushy habit

Propagation: seed for green leaf types (3,500 seeds per ounce), softwood cuttings of colored leaf types


clevlandii (clev-lan' dee-ii)--Blue Sage, blue flowers, native of So. California

discolor (dis' col-or)--Peruvian Sage, attractive deep purple flowers, complex scent of fruit, eucalyptus and resin

dorisiana (door-ee-see-aa' nah)--Fruit Sage, bright pink flowers, large velvety leaves scented of fruits, good for potpourris

elegans (el-e-gans') (rutilans)--Pineapple Sage, half hardy, scarlet flowers in late summer, pineapple scented leaves

fruiticosa (fruu-ti-coo' sah)--Greek Sage, trilobed leaves, easier to grow indoors, the sage of ancient Greeks depicted in frescoes from 1400 B.C.

fulgens (ful' gens)--Cardinal/Mexican Red Sage, scarlet flowers, pungent scent, 2-3' tall, infusion of leaves in Mexico used for colic

greggii (greg' ee-ii)--Autumn Sage, red to purple flowers, small fruit-scented leaves, native to Texas and Mexico

involucrata (in-vo-luu-cra' tah)--Rose Leaf Sage, showy pink-rose flowers, not aromatic, to 4' tall and sprawling

lavandulifolia (la-van-duu-li-fol' ee-ah)--Spanish/Narrow-leaf Sage, narrow leaves, balsamic flavor good for teas

lyrata (lie-rah' tah)--Lyre Leaf Sage, purple-blue attractive flowers, deeply cut leaves like dandelions, American Indians used roots for sores and early Americans used it for cancer (also called cancerweed)

miltiorrhiza (mil-tee-or-ii' zah)--Red/Chinese Sage, widely used in Chinese medicine for heart ailments, blood disorders, infections, hepatitis, and some skin diseases

officinalis (o-fish' i-nal' iss)--Dalmatian/Garden Sage, usual species seen and used

repens (ree' pens)--Creeping Sage, flowers blue, mauve or white, native of South Africa used in incense and medicinally, low

sclarea (sklair' ee-ah)--Clary Sage, biennial, lilac flowers over long period, large wrinkled leaves

viridis (vir-i-diss')--Painted Sage, brightly colored purple or pink flower bracts, unfusion used for sore gums, used in liquors to increase inebriating quality

Cultivars: (of officinalis)
Cultivars leaves other
'Aurea' green marbled gold  
'Berggarten' broad, silvery below silvery stems, hardy
'Broad Leaf' wide, green seldom flowers in cool
'Icterina' gold variegated mild flavor
subsp. prostratus blue green balsamic flavor, low
Purpurascens group purple pungent, sore throat tea
'Purpurascens Variegata' purple, cream mottled strong, good in tea
'Tricolor' green, pink, white edges half hardy, mild flavor

(cultivar photos courtesy Missouri botanical gardens plantfinder)

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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