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Growing sage species: which are the most famous and popular salvias for the kitchen and garden

Salvia is a large genus of plants consisting of annuals, perennials and some shrubs. Many of the species have the name “sage”. There are more than 1000 species. What can sage be used for? Sage plants can play many roles in the garden, from flowering annuals to lush perennials to delicious herbs. But which species of sage might you grow?

Growing sage species for culinary and garden use

They are so versatile that they can often be used interchangeably – culinary varieties are showy enough to be used in the flower garden, and perennial varieties bloom so profusely that they can be used in containers and window boxes.

What varieties of sage are there?

What types of sage for the garden - Salvia lanceolata.

Sage belongs to the mint family and has a strong, pleasant fragrance. Most sage species are perennial. However, some of the most popular species are annuals that grow in colder regions. They are known for their long blooming season. These plants are the perfect addition to your garden and offer a wide range of different colors.

Grow edible sage species

Use sage leaves for tea

Sage leaves are used in fish, pork and poultry dishes, also with vegetables and in cured meats. In ancient times, the plant was associated with old age and the prevention of memory loss. In the Middle Ages, it was used as a panacea for most ailments. In some herbal circles, people still use the medicinal plant today. If you want to buy edible sage species, you can choose between the following.

Salvia officinalis: one of the most famous varieties.

True sage is one of the most popular varieties


This is the most famous and widely used variety, also called true sage. Its leaves are obtained for sage stuffings; it is also suitable for seasoning cheese and stews, soups and casseroles. The leaves are strongly antiseptic and are used in medicine as a tonic for sore throats, to ward off colds and to reduce perspiration. The plant is rich in antioxidants, and recent research suggests it may even slow aging and improve memory.

Pineapple sage smells like the exotic fruit

Growing sage species - The red Salvia elegans

Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) has bright red flowers, and both the leaves and flowers can be eaten for their strong pineapple flavor.
This species is a shrubby perennial. It has a pineapple-like fragrance, especially when the leaves are crushed, and blooms in late summer to mid-autumn with scarlet flowers. This plant does best in warm and sunny climates. It is originally from Mexico and Guatemala.

White sage has been cultivated since ancient times

Salvia apiana - effect against the common cold


White sage (Salvia apiana) is a plant native to California with grayish-white leaves and lavender flowers that provide abundant nectar. Native Americans used this plant for ceremonies and drank tea from the leaves for constipation and colds. The leaves are also used as a deodorant.

Grapefruit sage offers sweet taste

Salvia gesneriifolia - edible sage species.

The flowers of grapefruit sage (Salvia Gesneriiflora) are rich in nectar with a delicious sweet taste. They can be eaten directly from the plant.

Salvia in the garden: which species of sage to grow?

What to use sage species - grow in the garden.

Sage can get large and unwieldy in an herb garden, and with its beautifully textured foliage is better off among flowers.
What they all have in common is their jewel-like color and preference for good drainage and warmth, so they’re a gift for gardens with drought.

Salvia amistad (Friendship Sage).

Sage amistad - suitable as a cut flower

Salvia amistad is especially eager to bloom, bearing unusually large, deep purple flowers with almost black calyxes and stems. It is very popular with bees and makes an excellent cut flower. The plant does best in a sunny, sheltered spot in well-drained soil. Remove the faded flowers regularly to keep them blooming into the fall. Mulch annually with well-rotted manure or garden compost. Plants may need shelter during the harshest winters.

“Black and Blue” Salvia

Popular sage species - Salvia guaranitica grow in the garden.

Salvia guaranitica is an attractive perennial that bears cobalt blue flowers. Also known as “Black and Blue” salvia, it is a member of the evergreen shrub genus grown in southern South America, particularly Brazil, and is cultivated as an annual.

Scarlet sage originates from Brazil

Salvia coccinea - scarlet sage.

This species of Salvia coccinea is typically called blood sage. It is considered a tropical perennial, but can also be grown as an annual. This plant usually has bright red flowers. Some varieties bear white, salmon, burgundy, lavender, pink and orange flowers. This plant is native to Brazil and does best in an environment with full to partial sunlight.

Mealy sage with different colors

Mealy sage in blue color - Salvia farinacea

This variety (Salvia farinacea) comes in different colors, such as blue, purple and lavender. It has a long blooming season and blooms from May until frost, also thrives best in an environment with full to partial sunlight.

Mexican bush sage – a favorite for gardeners

Use salvia plant as a remedy

The evergreen, shrubby Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) blooms with purple or white-purple flowers from late summer until frost. The flowers are unusually attractive and profuse, making this plant a favorite for late-season gardens.

Divinorum sage needs a lot of sun

Salvia divinorum has been cultivated since ancient times

Salvia divinorum has beautiful purple flowers. The leaves contain a substance that can sometimes cause hallucinations. This plant is originally from southern Mexico and grows best in an environment with full sun.

Forest sage is suitable as a cut plant

Salvia nemerosa - One of many different types of sage.

Wood sage (Salvia nemerosa) is a perennial that blooms from June to September in various shades of purple and lavender. These vigorous plants bear lance-shaped leaves and many spikes of purple-blue flowers. Many gardeners remove the faded flowers (or cut them off with pruning shears), but sometimes they bloom throughout the summer, even without being faded. Removing the faded flowers keeps the plant looking neat. Popular types to grow are ‘Marcus’, ‘Caradonna’, ‘Sensation’ and ‘Blue Hill’.