Salvia officinalis 'Aurea'
Common Name: common sage
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Lamiaceae
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Lilac-blue
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Herb
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

Grow in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerates very light shade, but best in full sun. Plants tend to sprawl, particularly when grown in less than full sun. Wet soils can be fatal.

'Aurea', unlike the species, is not reliably winter hardy in the St. Louis area where it should be planted in a sheltered location and given winter protection.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Salvia officinalis commonly called sage, is the culinary sage familiar to most cooks. It also has excellent ornamental qualities, however. Variably called culinary sage, common sage or garden sage, this woody-stemmed, semi-shrubby perennial typically grows 1.5-2.5' tall. Features whorls of two-lipped, lavender-blue flowers (to 1 inch long) in short, upright spikes in late spring. Wrinkled, gray-green leaves (to 4" long) are strongly aromatic and are frequently used fresh or dried in cooking as a seasoning. A mint family member that is attractive to bees and butterflies.

Genus name comes from the Latin word salveo meaning to save or heal in reference to the purported medically curative properties attributed to some plants in the genus.

Specific epithet refers to the plant's real or supposed medicinal properties and was sold in shops.

'Aurea', called golden sage is a cultivar of the culinary sage familiar to most cooks. It is grown for both its ornamental qualities (variegated foliage) and its culinary properties. It is a compact, shrubby perennial which typically grows 1-1.5' tall and features wrinkled oblong leaves (to 4" long) which are variegated with gold and light green. Leaves are strongly aromatic and may be used fresh or dried in cooking. Aurea means golden.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to root rot in consistently moist or wet soils. Taller plants tend to sprawl and may need some support if grown as ornamentals in the border.

Garden Uses

Mix with perennials in borders or rock gardens. Excellent in herb or vegetable gardens.