If you are looking for an easy-to-grow herb, sage is such a good choice.
There are several varieties of sage, and there are a few ways to categorize them. Some people grow sage purely because the leaves are delicious to cook with, but other grow it for its ornamental qualities as well as the fact that sage is a great companion plant.
The first way to categorize types of sage is by color. Most sages are green, but you can also find purple sage and golden sage. Purple sage has really nice purple flowers and a lime-green leaf, while golden sage has yellowish flowers and leaves.
Another way to categorize types of sage is by medicinal or culinary use. Different types of sage have their benefits, but there are also some differences that affect how you grow each type.
For example, garden sage – the most common variety – has a stronger flavor than purple or golden sage. Since it is the most common variety, it will also be easier to find.
Culinary Sage Types
The two main types of sage that are grown for their culinary uses include ‘ Berggarten ‘, or traditional German sage, and ‘ Broadleaf ‘.
While many people prefer to grow garden sage for cooking and its rich flavor, broadleaf sage has a milder flavor.
Garden Sage is a hardy perennial if you live in hardiness zones 5-8. It’s also slightly more resistant to pests and diseases, so while you will still need to get rid of aphids, it won’t require as much work from you.
1. Common Sage
Also known as: Culinary sage, garden sage
Scientific name: Salvia officinalis
Common sage is a popular variety that is grown for both medicinal and culinary uses. It’s an easy-to-grow perennial plant that can handle most of the harsher climates in the northern United States, as well as in colder areas.
I find that sage likes to be left alone for the most part, and even enjoys the clay soil around my property.
It can be grown in a spot with either full sun or partial shade, but make sure it has really good drainage.
Where you can buy Common Sage:
2. Broadleaf Sage
Broadleaf sage is native to the Meditteranean region of the world. When growing in the garden, you can expect to have a harvest around 75 days after transplanting. And boy will it smell good!
Broadleaf sage has silver tinted leaves and deep purple flowers – they’re so pretty!
You can pick up Broadleaf Sage:
3. Golden Sage
Scientific Names: Salvia officinalis ‘Aurea’ and Salvia officinialis ‘Icterina’
Golden sage has a less pungent flavor than typical garden sage, and oftentimes can have a slight citrus flavor.
Golden sage doesn’t do very well in colder climates and tends to be more sensitive to changes in light or temperature than other types of sage. Make sure any chance of frost has passed before you transplant seedlings outside.
These garden varieties tend to be more sensitive to other pests and diseases as well. But it is hardy to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit but the leaves will often die back and the plant will have to start over.
Because of it’s awesome bi-colored leaves, golden sage is often used for landscaping to give yards a pop of color.
4. Russian Sage
Scientific name: Perovskia atriplicifolia
Russian sage looks quite different from other types of sage. Instead of having those long, full leaves, the leaves of Russian sage almost look like a cross between sage and lavender.
It is a perennial herb that does well in Hardiness zones 4 through 9. Russian sage flowers are stunning, and you’ve probably seen them used in medians on the highway, as they’re easy to grow and add a beautiful purple color when in bloom.
Russian sage has been used to treat colds, sore throats, and coughs when added to hot tea and other drinks.
Where you can pick up Russian Sage:
5. Italian Sage
Also known as: Italian aromatic sage
Scientific name: Salvia officinalis ‘Italian’
Italian sage has large violet flowers with grey leaves. This variety of culinary sage isn’t commonly used for medicinal purposes, and it is a good choice if you want to grow it for ornamental reasons. It grows up to 2 feet tall with opposite, ovate leaves that are about 1 inch in length.
Italian sage is definitely one of the common varieties used in cooking. It really helps bring out the flavors in dishes that have onion, tomatoes, potatoes, and pork.
6. Greek Sage
Also known as: Salvia cypria
Scientific Names: Salvia fruticosa
This type of sage is native to the Mediterranean region and is used primarily for ornamental reasons. It grows up to 3 feet tall with dark green leaves. It has blue/purple flowers that are often used in bouquets and dried flower arrangements.
Greek sage accounts for 50-95% of the dried sage sold in North America, so it’s safe to say that it’s quite popular.
7. Scarlet Sage
Also known as: Scarlet salvia
Scientific name: Salvia splendens var.rubra ‘Lady in Lace’
This type of sage is definitely a unique one! It has vibrant red flowers, that have a very fragrant scent used to make a wide variety of herbal products. You can even dry and crush the leaves and flowers to create your own potpourri!
8. Pineapple Sage
Also known as: Sweet sage
Scientific name: Salvia elegans
This one gets its name from the sweet smell it gives off when it blooms. Pineapple sage also grows well as an ornamental with small flowers and green leaves. You can use this variety to make either a tea or a tincture.
Pineapple sage is popular because the flowers give off a pineapple scent and adds color to your garden.
The small flowers have purplish-red petals with a yellow center. The plant itself will grow up to 4 feet tall, but it can also spread out into a wider bush with some pruning and proper care.
9. Mountain Sage
Mountain sage (Salvia regla) is a perennial herb that is native to the mountains of Mexico.
The flowers are white or pale blue and bloom in the summer. Mountain sage is an important ingredient in traditional Mexican herbal medicine, commonly known as Yerba Mansa.
Mountain sage is also used as a decorative plant in gardens. It is pretty drought-tolerant and can grow in either full sun or partial shade.
10. White Sage
Scientific Name: Salvia apiana
White sage has silvery gray leaves and is often used as the typical “sage burning” sage you’ll have people using for smudge sticks. White sage is native to southwestern regions of the United States and Mexico.
White sage has a strong, pine-like scent with a smokey finish. Because of this burnt-like flavor, most types of white sage are not great for culinary use.
If you’re looking for a pop of color in your garden, yellow sage (Salvia farinacea) is a great option. This variety of the herb is native to the Southwest, so it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular choice for hot, dry climates.
Yellow sage puts off a ton of yellow flowers that range in color from pale lemon to deep gold. They make excellent cut flowers!
As I mentioned above, Yellow Sage really loves the heat, so it’s best to wait until the soil has warmed before planting it outdoors.
11. Mealycup Sage
Scientific name: Salvia farinacea
Mealycup sage is native to Texas and the desert areas of New Mexico. Mealycup sage is also known as “Texas tarragon” because it kind of tastes like its French cousin. Yum!
The flowers on the mealy cup sage are purple/blue coming off of a long purplish stem from the center of the plant.
12. Mexican Bush Sage
Scientific name: Salvia leucantha
Mexican bush sage is often used as a border plant for landscaping because it can grow on steep slopes and tolerate hot weather as long as it gets enough water.
It has small purple flowers that are beautiful. But you can also harvest leaves for tea and other drinks.
Mexican bush sage will spread out quite a bit on its own. You will want to keep an eye on how much it expands every year and prune it accordingly so it doesn’t crowd out other plants.
13. Berggarten Sage
Scientific Name: Artemisia berggardiana
This variety of sage is often used for ornamental purposes because it has such nice-looking gray-green leaves.
The blue flowers make this a really attractive type of sage, but you can also use the fresh leaves throughout summer in the kitchen.
14. Woodland Sage
Also known as: Wood sage
Scientific name: Salvia nemorosa
Woodland sage is frequently used for medicinal purposes and is used to treat nervousness, vomiting, and diarrhea. The leaves can be added to teas as a remedy for colds, coughs, and fevers.
Disease & Pest Control
Spider mites and aphids are some of the more common pests you’ll find when growing sage.
An easy way to check for spider mites is to take a few leaves and shake them over a piece of paper. If any tiny bugs fall off the plant, you probably have a spider mite problem.
Aphids tend to live on the underside of leaves, so you want to check them regularly as they’ll spread FAST.
Are there any diseases that can affect my sage plants?
Mint rust is a common problem for sage plants as they are part of the mint family. You’ll see yellow and orange spots on the leaves of affected plants.
Common Uses For Sage Leaves
Sage leaves can be brewed into a tea for things like digestive disorders, muscle aches and joint pains, headaches, colds, upset stomachs and even to reduce fevers.
Sage branches (usually white sage) can be used to make smudge sticks that provide a scented smoke that is said to clear the air of negative energy.