When you think of types of sage, you may not realize that Sage encompasses a huge range of plants from tender herbs to woody shrubs. They’re excellent for adding splashes of color to your yard, and they also work very well in cooking in various dishes. Different types of sage is also popular in companion planting because it doesn’t take over and it goes well with many different plants. In warm climates, it’s easy to grow types of sage as a perennial, and many people grow it as an annual in cooler areas. You can get sage that is purely ornamental for your yard or landscape design, and other types work best for culinary purposes. Whatever the reason, there is a type of sage or two for you to try.
I want you to know both types, so I’ve picked out several types of sage that fall into the culinary or ornamental category. I’ll tell you how to set up the best growing conditions possible for them, popular uses, and more. By the end, you’ll be able to grow different types of sage without a problem, no matter where your location is or your growing environment. As a bonus, sage works well for beginner gardeners as well as seasoned professionals.
1. Scarlet Sage
The first type of sage on the list is Scarlet Sage, and this is a perennial that can easily grow all year-round when you plant it in zones 10 and 11, but it’ll grow in zones 2 to 11 as an annual. It can get up to two-feet high at full maturity, and it likes well-draining but fertile soil that you keep slightly most. Plant it in an area that gets full sun, and it’ll produce eye-catching purple, orage, white, blue, pink, or red flowers on spikes with deep green foliage. Each flower on this plant is tube-shaped, and they bloom well into the fall months. This is an ornamental sage variety that does well when you plant it in containers, in beds, or along borders.
2. Cleveland Sage
Native to California, this type of sage will grow all year-round as a perennial. You’ll get a medium-sized shrub that can get up to eight-feet wide by five-feet high, it has a bushy and rounded habit that is very dense. It produces lance-shaped leaves that are two-inches long, and the foliage is a grey-green color. They’re edible and aromatic, and you can use them from the start of spring until the middle of summer. It’s very drought-tolerant, and it loves hot and dry weather. Plant it in an area that gets full sun to partial shade with well-draining soil. It’ll send out long arching stems with pretty light purple flowers under the correct growing conditions.
3. Anise-Scented Sage
This type of sage does best in zones 7 to 10, and it produces aromatic leaves that have an anise-like scent to them. You get clumps of green leaves in an oval shape, and they send out tall stems in June and July with blue flowers. They’ll continue to bloom until the first frost hits, and this plant thrives when you plant it in a space that gets full sun. If it gets too much shade, the plant will start to droop. You should deadhead any dying blooms you see to encourage repeat blooming. It can get up to five feet tall at full maturity, and you’ll want to put it in a rich but well-drained soil. It’s also important that you keep the soil relatively moist and don’t allow it to dry out.
4. Woodland Sage
This type of sage usually grows in a tight clump that can get up to two feet tall at full maturity, and it offers an attractive grey-green foliage with an aromatic scent. It does well planted in zones three to nine, and it will produce spikes of small flowers in pink, blue, and purple coloring. This plant usually blooms late in the spring months, and it makes a nice addition to your container garden. It likes well-draining but gritty soil that you keep consistently moist, and it should be planted in full sun locations. You should amend heavy soil with gravel or sand to make it more gritty for the plants, and they require very little maintenance once they get going.
Salvia nemorosa by Andreas Rockstein / CC BY-SA 2.0
5. Common Garden Sage
This is a type of sage you’ll want on hand if you need it for culinary uses. You can use the leaves in a dried or fresh form in cooking, and they also work in tea. It’s a semi-evergreen dwarf shrub that will grow in a tight clump that gets as wide as it is tall. They have lavender blooms with a deep grey-green foliage that is extremely aromatic, and it grows best in full sun. However, it can tolerate dappled shade without a problem. This is a drought-tolerant plant that likes light, well-draining, but moist soil. After three of four years, the plants can get very woody and are unable to produce more leaves. You’ll have to put a new plant in if you want to continue to use it in your dishes.
2009.06.12_14.39.38_CIMG1084 by Andrey Zharkikh / CC BY 2.0
6. Mealy Cup Sage
This is an evergreen type of sage that has a strong reputation for producing a lot of flowers, and it’ll start blooming right in the spring and go until the first frost hits. You’ll get tall flower spikes that come densely packed with flowers in different blue hues. It’s popular as a cut flower or in borders because it brings a decent amount of height. It grows best in zones 8 to 10, and it’s a huge attractor of butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. Keep the soil moist but well-drained, and plant it in full sun. It can get up to three feet tall. Once the plant establishes itself, it can tolerate drought very well.
Salvia farinacea by Carl Lewis / CC BY 2.0
7. Pitcher Sage
Pitcher Sage is a perennial shrub that you’ll find in the Southeastern portion of the United States. This type of sage will grow in clumps that are slightly taller than they are wide, and it has very slender and narrow foliage in a greenish-grey color. You’ll get thick spikes of flowers that start in the middle of summer and go through the fall, and the flower stems will arch and sprawl. Flowers come in blue, pink, and white, and each bloom has two petals. They do best in gritty or sandy soil that drains well, and you want to keep them on the dry side. They’re drought-tolerant, and they like to be in full sun conditions. They’re great for beginners who want a splash of color but may forget to water them.
Pitcher Sage by Ken-ichi Ueda / CC BY-NC 2.0
8. Annual Sage
Did you know that this type of sage and most sage varieties are deer-resistant? This is an annual flower that will grow in one-foot wide clumps. You get a very densely-branched plant with showy flowers that start blooming in the summer months and go until the first frost hits. It forms erect, chunky stems for the flowers with mint green foliage. You will have to deadhead them to encourage them to keep blooming, and they look wonderful in fresh-cut bouquets. They like full to partial shade, and they can’t tolerate full sun. The soil should be very rich but drain well, and you want to keep it slightly moist to keep the plant happy.
Salvia viridis by Miltos Gikas / CC BY 2.0
9. Mexican Bush Sage
This is another type of sage that takes the form of a large or medium shrub, and it’s an evergreen perennial. It can reach between four and six-feet tall, and it can get up to six-feet wide. You’ll get deeper greenish-grey leaves that are lance-shaped. The flowers come in on spikes in shades of white and purple, and they’re slightly larger and soft to the touch. It likes to be in full sun, but this plant can tolerate partial shade and still bloom from spring until fall. This is a drought-tolerant plant that likes rich soil that stays slightly moist, but it will tolerate drought once it establishes itself. The Royal Horticultural Society awarded this type of sage the Award of Garden Merit.
Mexican bush sage by miheco / CC BY-SA 2.0
10. Desert Sage
Native to the western United States’ desert areas, this type of sage likes dry and hot conditions without a lot of humidity. You’ll get slightly larger rounded clumps as it grows with very fragrant leaves in a greenish-grey hue. It can bloom several times throughout the summer months, and it forms stalks of bright purple flowers. You can dry them for floral arrangements or use them in cut flower bouquets. It does very well in poor soil conditions as long as it drains well, but it prefers gritty cactus-like soil. It thrives on being neglected, and you should take care not to overwater it. It can get up to three feet tall, and it grows best in zones 9 to 11.
Purple Desert Sage by tdlucas5000 / CC BY 2.0
11. Pineapple Sage
If you live in a warmer winter climate, you can grow this type of sage as a colorful perennial. The leaves on this plant don’t look like traditional sage leaves. Instead, they look fresh and bright green, and they produce a very strong scent that is very close to pineapple. It has a mint-like taste to it when you use it to cook, and you can also brew the foliage in teas. It has a very rapid growth habit, and it does best in partial sun where it gets shade in the afternoon hours. The soil should stay consistently moist but be well-draining and rich. However, this plant can withstand drought once it establishes itself. It grows best in zones 8 to 11.
Pineapple Sage by Robert & Pat Rogers / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
12. Autumn Sage
This is a slightly smaller type of sage that is native to Mexico and Texas, and it stays an evergreen shrub here all year-round. It can grow in cooler climates, but it’ll be deciduous here. You’ll get oval velvet green leaves that are around two-inches long. The foliage is very aromatic, and it smells like mint. It’ll bloom from the start of spring into the fall months and produce tall flower spikes in pink, yellow, red, or purple coloring. It is a good pick to plant in borders or beds, and it works for a low hedge. It tolerates drought, humidity, and heat without a problem, but it grows best in a moderately rich and well-draining soil with full sun. It’ll only get up to three-feet tall at full maturity.
Autumn Sage by CameliaTWU / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
13. Greek Sage
Greek Sage is the type of sage you typically see if you go to the bulk aisle of your grocery store. It’s one of the biggest dried sages you can find, and you can use the young shoots to flavor your dishes. It’s very popular in Europe to help brew Faskomilo tea, and it has bright green leaves that are very slender. This plant grows in a slightly larger clump, and it’ll form smaller spikes of light purple flowers that bloom from the spring until the fall months. It does best when you plant it in an area that gets full sun, and you want to make a point to keep the soil slightly moist. It can tolerate a range of soil conditions as long as they drain well, and it’ll tolerate drought once it starts growing.
Salvia ‘Newe Ya’Ar’ 01 by Scott Zona / CC BY-NC 2.0
14. Clary Sage
This is a type of sage that is very popular with people who make their own candles for the woody and earthy scent it brings. It offers edible leaves and flowers, and it has a long usage history for being dried and tucked into trunks or dressers to enhance how clothing smells. This isn’t a drought-tolerant sage, and it likes regular and consistent watering in a well-drained soil. It also likes cooler conditions, so it does very well in partial to full shade. It can be a tender perennial in cool climates, but it’s usually a biennial. It has slightly larger bright green leaves with stalks of purple flowers that look cup-like and stick up above the foliage. It’ll bloom from the middle of summer until the fall.
Salvia sclarea #2 by James Gaither / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
15. Fruit Sage
This type of sage has a very strong fruit scent to it, hence the name. It’s native to Central America, and it likes warm and dry climates without a lot of humidity. The soil should be rich but drain very well, and you can water it periodically without soaking the soil to keep it happy. It likes full sun, but it can grow in partial shade. It produces very fragrant and slightly larger pink flowers, and they add a sweet taste to your food. You also get larger leaves than you will with a lot of sage plants, and this makes them very easy to harvest and use fresh or dry for usage later on. They’ll start blooming in the middle of summer and go until the early fall months.
Salvia dorisiana by Dick Culbert / CC BY 2.0
16. South African Sage
This is a unique type of sage that pairs very well with lemon grass in culinary dishes. It has a taste that falls between lemon and pepper, and this makes it very popular in seafood dishes. It also has a taste that is very different than you’d expect from this plant, and you can find it growing wild in South Africa. It produces larger silvery-grey leaves that have an elongated form, and you’ll get orangish-red flowers that stand out from the foliage. It grows in a compact clump when you put it in a place that has rich but well-drained soil, and it likes full sun to partial shade. You won’t have to water this plant a lot for it to be healthy.
Salvia lanceolata 04 by Scott Zona / CC BY-NC 2.0
17. White Sage
Did you know that white sage is edible? This type of sage is surprisingly delicious, and it has a slightly stronger pine-like flavor that you get with a lot of sage plants. It works well as an addition to your spice and herb collection, and you can use it to enhance the flavor of pork or red meat dishes. To get full growth, plant it in a rich but well-draining soil somewhere that gets full sun. This plant won’t tolerate a lot of shade without drooping. It forms clumps of erect, elongated leaves in a soft green color, and they have a slightly fuzzy appearance. It works well both dried and fresh in dishes.
J20161110-0061—Salvia apiana—RPBG—DxO by John Rusk / CC BY 2.0
18. Sonoma Sage
This is a California native type of sage that is very common in chaparral plant environments. The plant won’t get more than a foot tall at full maturity, and it is widely considered to be a subshrub. It’s a low-maintenance plant that is hard to kill, and it will produce blue or purple flower spikes that stand up over the foliage. It grows wild along the California coast, and there is now a white flower cultivar available. It does best planted in an area that gets plenty of sunlight, and it likes slightly moist but well-drained soil that is rich in nutrients. Grow a few clumps close together to help fill in any bare areas in your yard.
H20150319-0049—Salvia sonomensis—RPBG by John Rusk / CC BY 2.0
19. Salvia Van Houttei
This type of sage is excellent for adding splashes of color to your yard or garden, and it produces wine-red and burgundy flowers. The plants come with medium green leaves that deer avoid, and you get larger drooping flower spikes that add a dramatic flair to the plant. It does best in a slightly shaded area, and it grows best in zones seven and up. This isn’t a drought-tolerant plant, and it likes you to keep the well-drained but rich soil slightly more moist without saturating it. Expect to see flower growth in the start of the summer months, and they’ll go until the first frost of the season hits.
Salvia splendens ‘Van Houttei’ 1 by Scott Zona / CC BY-NC 2.0
20. Prawn Sage
You can use this larger type of sage as a privacy hedge because it gets up to eight feet wide and eight feet tall. The name comes from the flowers that are a very deep red color and resemble prawn heads. They will bloom from the middle of summer until the fall months, and they produce a light floral scent. This is a slightly more challenging plant to grow, and it’s not drought-tolerant. You’ll need to make a point to keep the soil consistently moist but well-drained if you want this plant to do well. It does best in zones 9 to 11 because it can’t tolerate the cold either. Plant it in a partially shaded location and wait for it to establish itself.
Red sage by Gadjo_Niglo / CC BY 2.0
21. Mexican Chia
This type of sage is one that you don’t grow for the leaves, but you grow it for the seeds. When you add moisture to these plants, the seeds will create a gel. This makes them popular to use in overnight oats or smoothies. It’s an annual that grows in the southwestert desert region of the United States. It has frilly deep green leaves with tall stalks that the seeds grow on. Since it’s a desert-area native, it likes very sandy and gritty soil. It also likes to be in a full sun location, and it should stay very dry and arid. Don’t water this plant a lot because overwatering can do damage. It’s one sage plant that you can neglect and it’ll do very well.
Chia by Dawn Endico / CC BY-SA 2.0
22. Graham’s Sage
Also called Mitro de Montes, this is a type of sage that is native to Mexico. It has a blackcurrant-like flavor that makes it popular in brewed tea. You can also use it in desserts for a light, fruity flavor profile. It produces vibrant green leaves in an elongated oval shape, and it has thin stems that grow above the foliage to produce bright red flowers. The flowers are slightly smaller, and they can have a pink coloring too. Plant it in a well-draining soil in a partially shaded location. They do well in forest gardens, despite not getting full sun. You shouldn’t saturate the soil around the plant, and make sure it gets at least dappled sunlight. You can use this plant fresh or dried in your dishes.
Salvia microphylla ‘Cerro Potosi’ by Leonora (Ellie) Enking / CC BY-SA 2.0
23. Grapefruit Sage
The final type of sage on the list is Grapefruit Sage. You can add the leaves of this plant to your favorite dishes, but the flowers are packed full of flavor. It produces very large and full flowers that have a very sweet nectar in them. They attract a lot of pollinators to your yard, and you can eat them as soon as you pick them from the stem. The flowers are an orangish-red color, and they sit on top of very slender stems. The foliage is a bright green with elongated leaves, and they like spots that are full sun. The soil should be rich but drain very well, and it likes consistent moisture.
Salvia gesneriiflora by Scott Zona / CC BY-NC 2.0
These 23 types of sage can add splashes of color or enhance your dishes. They grow in a variety of heights, styles, and colors. You can use them fresh or dried, and you can mix and match the different types of sage to different growing conditions. Try a few and see how they make your landscape or food pop.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.