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Salvia Officinalis


   Salvia officinalis, also known as garden sage, is native to Spain. This plant, best known for its uses in cooking, is best grown in zones three through eight, and hardy in zone five. The salvia officinalis blooms profusely for about three or four weeks in mid to late spring. The salvia officinalis is one of the most beautiful of all the salvias. It will, however, lose most of its look after about three years, and should be replaced.

   Salvia officinalis features leathery, gray green leaves on slightly woody stems, and grows to two feet in height. The stems will sometimes have trouble supporting the plant and may become droopy. The attractive spikes of blue-purple flowers make a lovely early season display. Starting the salvia officinalis from seeds is easy to do, and should be started indoors six to eight weeks before the last spring frost. Propagation can also be done by division or taking cuttings from existing plants.

  There are many different cultivars of salvia officinalis. One is the salvia officinalis icterina, or golden garden sage. This plant has green and gold irregularly variegated leaves. The salvia officinalis purpurea, features dark purple new leaves that turn a soft green with age. The salvia officinalis tricolor has variegated cream, pink, and green leaves. All of the previously mention salvias have the same characteristics of the general salvia officinalis, but the golden and tricolor are a tad less winter hardy.

   Salvia officinalis should be planted in well-drained soil with full sun. Cutting back old stems in spring will encourage strong new growth to emerge. Every couple of years, the salvia officinalis should be divided, to rejuvenate the old plants.

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