Salvia officinalis 'Icterina'
Common Name: common sage 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Lamiaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: June
Bloom Description: Purplish 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


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.

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.

The genus name Salvia 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.

'Icterina' has aromatic, oblong, 1 to 2.5 in. long leaves that are variegated with pale green and golden yellow. It produces 2-lipped purplish blue flowers on terminal racemes in late spring to early summer. 'Icterina' grows 1 to 2 ft. tall and wide and may be grown for both its ornamental and culinary qualities.


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.


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