Gardens - Herb Gardening

Add versatile sage to your herb garden

Laura Langston
Photography by
Tracy Cox

Versatile sage is equally at home in the kitchen garden, the perennial border or a container

Fruit sage (Salvia dorisiana); Annual

Height & spread 90 cm x 1.2 m
Description & comments Large, velvety leaves with delicious fruit scent and vivid pink flowers; requires lots of filtered light and regular watering; not drought tolerant; reluctant to branch and can get floppy, but responds well to regular pinching back
Uses Mince fresh flowers for sage butter; lovely in containers; dry for potpourri or for use in linen closet to discourage insects

Pineapple sage (S. elegans); Annual

Height & spread 90 to 120 cm x 60 to 90 cm
Description & comments Brilliant red flowers; likes regular watering; susceptible to heat stress
Uses Leaves and flowers add tangy citrus-mint flavour to salads, drinks, jams, jellies and desserts; pairs well with chicken, pork or fish; best fresh

‘Honey Melon’ sage (S. e. ‘Honey Melon’); Annual

Height & spread 90 to 120 cm x 60 to 90 cm
Description & comments Looks and grows like pineapple sage but has luscious honeydew scent; edible red flowers attract hummingbirds; prefers filtered light
Can be used like pineapple sage; best fresh

Greek sage (S. fruticosa); Annual

Height & spread 60 to 90 cm x 45 cm
Description & comments Grey-green leaves; ancient lineage
Slightly inferior in taste to S. officinalis, but easier to pot up and grow indoors; majority of commercially dried sage is S. fruticosa

Autumn sage (S. greggii); Zone7

Height & spread 60 x 90 cm
Description & comments Drought-tolerant ornamental produces small, fruit-scented leaves and brightly coloured flowers; a number of cultivars are available (‘Big Pink’, ‘Cherry Chief’, ‘Lowry’s Peach’); attracts hummingbirds Uses Aromatic leaves used as seasoning in Mexico; nectar-filled blooms are tasty in salads

Garden sage (S. officinalis); Zone 5

Height & spread 45 to 90 cm x 60 to 90 cm
Description & comments Grey-green, pebbly textured leaves, pale blue flowers; easy to start from seed
Uses Main culinary variety; also used medicinally; flowers have subtler flavour than leaves and can be used in pesto, salads, dips or sauces, or added to crumbs for coating fish or chicken

‘Berggarten’ sage (S. o. ‘Berggarten’); Zone 5

Height & spread 60 x 45 cm
Description & comments
Large, silvery grey-blue leaves; low, robust habit
Same flavour and uses as garden sage; try flash-frying leaves in olive oil for about 30 seconds, then cool, crumble and use like bacon bits 

‘Gold’ sage (S. o. ‘Gold’) Zone 7

Height & spread 60 x 90 cm
Description & comments
Slow-growing, lovely, compact plant; is generally grown for foliage and produces solid gold-coloured leaves; rarely flowers; can be slowed further if given too much or too little water, or is over-fertilized; requires full sun to keep photosynthesis at peak
Same flavour and uses as other culinary sages

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