Sage is a Salvia, the largest genus in the mint family. There are hundreds of varieties of salvias, which can have quite different cultivation needs. This page focuses on culinary sage, Salvia officinalis.
'Berggarten' is a compact growing cultivar from Germany, considered to be one of the better flavored culinary sages. 'Purpurea' is referred to as common sage and is another compact variety that stays under 2' in height. Besides being a Thanksgiving herb, sage also pairs well with cheese, pasta, and bean dishes. Salvias are a favorite of hummingbirds, bees, and other beneficials.
How to grow
Sages are frost sensitive and may die back in the winter, depending on the variety and your microclimate. Prune lightly during the growing season to shape plants. Pruning before bloom will delay flowering. After the second year, the plant needs to be trimmed in spring to avoid the center becoming woody.
- Type: Perennial, evergreen, woody
- Light: Full sun
- Soil: Well drained, sandy loam. pH between 6.0 and 7.0
- Water: Generally low water. Wait until soil is dry before watering
- Size: Generally 1-2' high, 1-2' wide, depending on variety. Some can be much larger
When to plant/propagate
- From seed: Direct seed after the last frost date in spring, or sow seeds indoors 8-10 weeks prior to the last frost date
- Transplants: Plant seedlings when danger of frost is past
- Cuttings & divisions: Cuttings and divisions can be done successfully year round
- For drying, harvest before flowering for best flavor
- Preserving and drying herbs
Indoors: Sage can be grown as an indoor plant with 6 hours of bright light from a sunny window, or 12-16 hours of supplemental light provided by cool white fluorescent or LED lamps
- Grow Herbs!, UCCE Master Gardeners of Sacramento County
Recommended Varieties for Santa Clara County*
* Many other varieties may also do well here in Santa Clara County. This list is based on UC Master Gardener trials, taste tests, and feedback from local growers.