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How to Grow Salvia Plants

Guide to Growing Sage, Clary, and Chia

Salvia are hardy annuals or half hardy perennials that are both nice to look at and have many culinary uses.

Some common names for Salvia include Sage, Peruvian sage, Honeydew sage, golden sage, tricolored sage, purple sage and Meadow Clary.

For the best flavour the perennial varieties may be grown as annuals or biennials.

Photographs of Peruvian Sage

Peruvian Sage

Peruvian Sage Picture

Purple Sage

Purple sage picture

Honeydew Sage

Honeydew Sage Picture - Salvia

The leaves of sage can be harvested at any time, but if you are planning to dry them then harvest sage leaves before flowering has occurred. Salvia plants bloom from the summer through autumn and has lipped tubular flowers; these can be of many colours including red, purple, yellow and white.

Salvia pratensis
Salvia pratensis – Meadow Clary by Franco Folini.

Salvia officinalis
Salvia officinalis by Passa.sr; Creative Commons.

Quick Salvia Plant Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Sage, Clary, Chia. Sage: Common; Greek; Pineapple; White; Mexican bush; Baby; Scarlet; Diviners.
Life Cycle: Half hardy annual, hardy annual. Half hardy perennial commonly grown as a biennial or half hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 12 to 60 inches (30 to 150 cm).
Native: Mediterranean, Americas, Europe, Asia.
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10.
Flowers: Summer and/or autumn.
Flower Details: Blue, red, violet, yellow, white. Racemes. Panicles. Tubular. Bell-shaped. Lipped.
Foliage: Entire. Pinnate. Toothed.
Sow Outside: Surface. Annuals and Perennials: a couple of weeks after the last frost. Biennials: At the start of autumn. Spacing 6 to 36 inches (15 to 90 cm).
Sow Inside: Vermiculite. Water from below. Germination time: one to three weeks. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Seven or eight weeks in advance. Annuals: three months in advance. Transplant outdoors a couple of weeks after the last frost; minimum temperature should not drop below 41°F (5°C).
Requirements: Full sunlight or light shade. Good drainage. Soil pH 6 to 7.5. Rich soil. Moist soil. Occasional feed. Water during prolonged dry periods. Pinch tips. May require support. Deadhead. Perennials should be cut back to about two inches (5 cm) in autumn. Perennials should be divided every three years in the autumn (warm areas) or spring (cooler areas).

How to Grow Sage and other Salvia Plants in the Garden

When growing Sage from seed it is very important to sow from fresh seed. If growing indoors first then it is necessary to first refrigerate the sage seeds for three weeks (within moist soil; in a plastic bag). The sage seeds should then be sown on the surface of vermiculite and watered from beneath. Germination of Sage should take from about one to three weeks at 18 to 24 degrees centigrade. Sage should be transplanted outdoors following the last frost.

If starting to grow Sage outdoors from the off then sow the seed at the end of February, or in autumn for biennial Salvia members. Sage prefers a sunny area of the garden to grow in, but may require afternoon shade in very warm areas. The soil that Sage and other Salvia grows in should be rich and moist. Ideally the Ph will be slightly acidic to neutral (pH 5.8 to 7.0). Salvia should be spaced at about 15 cm (small varieties) to 60 cm (large Salvia plants).

Caring for Sage in your Herb Garden

Once established pinch back the tips of young Sage plants when they reach about 16cm; this will encourage more branching and a bigger harvest. Once Salvia Plants have flowered dead head them. Sage likes moist soil so it is important to water them regularly. If you are growing perennial Salvia then cut them back in the autumn to about 5cm in height, and divide them every four years to maintain vigor.



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