Discover 8 sage varieties to plant in your garden

There are more than 900 varieties of sage with different properties, smells and tastes. Here is a brief outline of these types of sage to help you choose one that suits your garden.

Discover 8 sage varieties to plant in your garden

Common sage (Salvia officinalis):

  • This is one of the most familiar culinary herbs.
  • It has a pleasant, spicy taste, and is a powerful antioxidant. Originally from the Mediterranean, including the shores of the Adriatic, sage has grey-green leaves and clusters of purple-blue flowers.
  • There are variants with pink and white flowers.
  • Several varieties with ornamental foliage make excellent small evergreen plants for borders and tubs, including Berggarten with large, broad leaves, Purpurea with purple leaves, with variegated white, cream and pink leaves, and Icterina with golden variegated leaves.

Greek sage, or Greek oregano (S. fruticosa):

  • It looks like common sage, although it is less robust, and its leaves have a pair of small leaflets or lobes at the base.
  • It has a delicious aroma of lavender and is sold dried.

Spanish sage (S. lavandulifolia):

  • It looks like common sage, but with narrow leaves.
  • It has a scent of lavender and sage, and its oil is extracted to make perfume.

Clary sage (S. sclarea):

  • Biennial, this is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful sages.
  • It forms a large rosette of broad oval-shaped, veined, velvety leaves and tall, dense flowering buds decorated with pink and white flowers,with distinctive purple-pink bracts.
  • Its extremely fragrant leaves give liqueurs, wines and vermouths a musky flavour.
  • Its essential oil is used in perfumery.
  • In water, the seeds are mucilaginous and were once used to clean the eyes.

White sage (S. apiana):

  • A semi-robust sub-shrub with silvery leaves, native to the deserts of the southwestern United States.
  • Native Americans used the leaves as a flavouring, to reduce the formation of mucus and saliva, or as smudges (kindling made of fumigated dried herbs) in purification ceremonies.

"Chia" sage:

  • It is grown for its nutritious seeds that can be sprouted, and used in pastries or soaked in water to make refreshing drinks.
  • Golden chia is an annual semi-robust plant from the southwestern United States and Central America.
  • There is also S. polystachya and S. hispanica, an important herb for the Aztecs, who ate its small, oily seeds, which are gluten free and rich in omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linoleic acid), antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre.
  • Some sages have delicious fruity aromas.

Pineapple sage (S. elegans "Scarlet Pineapple" syn. S. rutilans):

  • It has clusters of fine red flowers and leaves which smell of pineapple.
  • Peach sage (S. dorisiana), with large leaves and bright pink flowers, smells of fruit salad.
  • Both can flavour drinks and garnish desserts.
  • Grow them in large tubs, and make sure the temperature does not fall below 5° C in winter.
  • "Tangerine" is a variety of pineapple sage, which is stronger, with a citrus scent, that can survive at temperatures of -5° C or even lower.

Chinese sages:

  • Two oriental medicinal sages, known as dan shen China, make beautiful decorative plants.
  • There is Chinese sage (S. miltiorhiza) with red roots and dark green, veined, plumed leaves and blue-violet flowers, and S. przewalskii, with soft, light green leaves and large purple-blue flowers.
  • These two sages are robust perennials.

You now know more about eight sage varieties. Perhaps you've now found the one you want to add to your garden!

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