are mounded to shrubby mints with the tubular, bilobed flowers and square stems indicative of their kinship. The flowers have inflated protruding upper lips that project over the lower ones. They are borne in tiered whorls at the tips of branching stems. Many have aromatic foliage. Leaves may be oval or broadly lance-shaped. They grow from woody crowns with fibrous roots. Species vary in hardiness from tough to extremely frost-tender. Many good garden sages are available.
SAL-vee-a • Lamiaceae, Mint Family
Common Name: Sage
Bloom Time: Summer and fall bloom
Planting Requirements: Full sun to light shade
How to Grow
Plant sages in well-drained, sandy or loamy soils in full sun or light shade. They will get leggy and flop in too much shade. Overly rich or moist soils also encourage flopping. Most species are tough and extremely droughttolerant. Divide plants in spring or fall if they overgrow their position. Cut plants back to the ground in fall or early spring. Tender and woody salvias should be cut back in spring only. Propagate by stem cuttings in early summer. The less hardy species can be treated as annuals in colder zones and grown each season from seed sown indoors or from overwintered cuttings. Mulching with a cover of straw or chopped leaves may improve hardiness. Woodland species need rich, evenly moist soil in some shade.
Sages are excellent additions to welldrained perennial gardens. There are so many sizes and forms that there is one for every garden situation. Combine meadow and garden sage and their hybrids with yuccas (Yucca), yarrows (Achillea), catmints (Nepeta), stonecrops (Sedum), black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia)
, daylilies (Hemerocallis), tickseeds (Coreopsis), daisies and mums (Chrysanthemum), and ornamental grasses. Plant culinary sage in herb gardens or with ornamentals. In borders or prairie gardens, combine autumn sage with verbenas
, winecups (Callirhoe), lavenders (Lavandula), sundrops (Calylophus), ornamental onions (Allium), asters, yuccas, and grasses. Large species such as anise sage look great with tropicals like cannas, elephant ears, and coleuses. All sages respond well to container culture. Contrast their rich colors with filamentous bronze New Zealand hairy sedge (Carex comans ‘Bronze’), ever-blooming diascias, and bold African daisy hybrids (Gazanias).