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Sage

Salvia officinalis

From medicinal to culinary use, sage has been a garden staple for quite some time. Today this plant is most commonly grown for its extensive culinary use. Even when not used as a flavoring agent, sage makes a wonderful perennial plant in the garden or container garden. Sage's light blue flowers and gray/green foliage help it look at home in any flower border.

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Light:

Part Sun, Sun

Type:

Height:

1 to 3 feet

Width:

2 to 3 feet

Flower Color:

Foliage Color:

Seasonal Features:

Problem Solvers:

Zones:

4-10

Propagation

Culinary Use

Sage plants are multipurpose powerhouses with attractive foliage and equally pretty blooms. Generally, these plants are grown for their edible foliage and many gardeners choose to pinch off the flowers of the plant. This encourages plants to use all of their energy on producing tender leaves rather than blooms. If you do let your plants bloom, cut back to below the start of the bloom stalks to encourage fresh growth. But don't be too quick to pinch off the bloom stalks. The beautiful blooms can also be used in salads and many other places the same way as sage leaves, while also adding a refreshing splash of color.

Use sage to make an herb bouquet!

In the kitchen, add sage to traditional poultry and stuffing dinners, use it to rub meats before grilling, or fold into egg or cheese dishes. Try blending a pork and bean soup seasoned with thyme and sage. Sage accents fruit-based vinegars, creating beautiful mixtures with delicate aromas and tastes. Be careful to use dried sage sparingly in cooking; too much can yield a musty flavor.

Sage Care Must-Knows

The sage plant is a tough Mediterranean perennial that can stand up to some pretty tough conditions. Give these plants well-drained soils, as too much moisture can be the death of the plants. Sage is very tolerant of droughts once established. However, if you plan on harvesting sage for its edible characteristics, supplemental watering will prevent foliage from becoming too tough and bitter. It is also best to keep sage plants in full sun. Anything less will cause plants to sprawl, and flavor will be lost.

Herb Care Guide

As sage plants get older, they can get woody and tough. When plants grow very woody, overall growth may slow down and become sparse. Generally, it's a good idea to replace sage plants every 3-4 years or so if you are planning on using them for culinary purposes because plants become less productive in their later years.

Harvesting Sage

It is best to pick sage throughout the growing season, removing individual leaves at a time. If you plan to harvest stems for drying, wash plants the night before with a spray of water. Cut stems the following morning after dew has dried. Harvest the top 6-8 inches of growth on the plants. Then, bundle three to four stems together and hang upside down in a dark, dry place with good air circulation. Another drying method is to spread individual stems horizontally on a screen. When leaves are fully dry, crumble them and store in an airtight container. The flavor will generally keep for 3-4 months. Note that drying intensifies the flavor; use dried sage carefully. 

More Varieties for Sage

'Berggarten' sage

Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten' produces large, round, gray-green leaves that are more flavorful than common sage. It grows 2 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-8

Golden sage

Salvia officinalis 'Icterina' is a colorful alternative to common sage and can be grown in an herb garden, a flower border, or a container. It grows 2 feet tall and wide. Zones 7-8

Purple sage

Salvia officinalis 'Purpurea' offers aromatic, purple-toned leaves. Plants reach 18 inches tall and are hardy in Zones 6-9.

Tricolor sage

Salvia officinalis 'Tricolor' has foliage splashed with green, cream, and purple. In sunniest locations, the cream deepens to pink. Zones 6-11

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