Four Types of Sage


Yesterday afternoon I brought home a first harvest from the four different kinds of hardy sage (Salvia officinalis) I’ve got growing at the community garden. It’s not much, just a handful of clippings that I pinched off to make the plants grow bushier but it’s more than enough to make a whole lot of delicious scrambled eggs. I removed the flowers because I moved the flowering plants from my former plot earlier in the season and would rather they put their energy to getting well established and making lots of lush and tasty leaves than making babies so-to-speak.

The varieties:

  • Garden sage – Your standard, cold hardy, culinary sage. I am making it sound dull here but really you can’t beat the standard variety when it comes to hardiness and productivity. I grew a bunch of plants in my planter box a number of years ago and they survived for years getting larger and more prolific every season. This variety flowers like crazy after its first season — I like to snip a few off to put in a vase on my desk but you can eat them too or brew them into a tea. Leave a few in the garden where they will attract lots of pollinators and beneficial insects.
  • Purple Sage – I find this one to be less cold hardy than the garden sage but it will survive outdoors in colder climates if you give it lots of chance to establish itself and provide mulch or winter protection. I have grown it in the past and it never seems to get as large and bushy as the garden sage but the dark purple colour is just so pretty and makes a great contrast to the golden and tricolor sages. I am a sucker for just about anything purple in the garden.
  • Golden Sage – This variety seems to have the same issues as the purple but the chartreuse splashes in the leaves are hard to resist. Chartreuse is my other colour weakness. I’ve got the chartreuse/gold version of just about every herb (oregano, marjarom, etc) in my community plot this year.
  • Berggarten Sage – Similar to garden sage but with a dense, low growth and big, soft, oval leaves.

I have a fifth tricolor plant growing in a pot on the rooftop deck. I find the coloured sages are best for pots because they tend to stay on the smaller size and develop a really interesting topiary look if you remove the lower leaves and allow the plant to grow a woody bottom stem.

p.s Yep, those are my dirty fingernails in the photo above. Thanks to Davin for taking the photo.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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9 thoughts on “Four Types of Sage

  1. It’s funny 1 month ago, before I started having “edible” plants, it hadn’t even occurred to me that there could be different varieties of every plant, and that they would be really different… Silly me!

  2. just yesterday i was stroking my sage and wondering why i’ve only become to appreciate it the last few years. it smells so savoury!

    you must fry a few of those leaves in butter and pour over raviolli with a sprinkling of parmesan… mmm…

  3. I love their strong scent, tried to grow broadleaf sage in tropical SG, didn’t survive grrrrrrrr … lately, I came across fruit sage while I was at HK, Kaidoorie farm. lovely fruity cocktail scent, too bad, can’t seems to find the seeds.

  4. Sage in scrambled eggs! What a brilliant idea that I’m going to try tomorrow morning… I’ve always loved adding sage to my squash soup in fall and winter. In summer, I add a bit of sage to pork recipes. I do think that sage is a very underused herb in cooking. I’m a fan of Food Network, but the cooks rarely use fresh sage, instead relying on standards like basil or rosemary, or (gasp!) only using dried herbs. Thanks for highlighting the diversity of this herb — I currently have two different varieties growing in my herb garden. And this post encouraged me to use it more often!
    Callie Works-Leary

  5. When I saw the photo up above it reminded me of something that is growing on the side of my house, but I know its not the same thing. My mom says “its just weeds” (but is spanish) and then says i need to cut it down, but i love it i thought it was pretty and then it started getting bigger and bigger and now its a huge bush thing with long purple flowers that smell so pretty and sweet. even though it is hidden on the far back side of my house the wind just travels its scent all around the area. Now my mom loves it, but still says its a trash plant. lol but she wont mention cutting it down anymore. where could i find out what it is. I’m sure it’s a common plant here in Texas so I’m a bit ashamed to ask what it is and sound silly. Can I send a picture somewhere that maybe they can help me out?

  6. I agree with quant. Sage leaves fried in butter are amazing!

    Sage is my all time favourite plant. I have the common variety at the moment, but Im looking at getting some of the others to brighten up the vegi patch and act as a companion plant.

    Has anyone tried the pineapple sage?

    Whenever you have a sort throat, pop out and nibble on five or so fresh leaves, or make a tea/throat gargle. It works a treat.

  7. @ Irene – try posting a photo in the plant identification section of the forums on this site. i’m sure you’ll find out what your plant is!

    note: you cannot actually upload the photo to the forums, you have to have it somewhere online first and then link it.

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