Aug 10, 2010

Sage Varieties: Growing Tips and Recipes

By Caleb Melchior 

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Sage-Infused Recipes

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The genus Salvia contains a staggering range of species suitable for every garden use under the sun—and in the shade. But for cooking, none can rival common garden sage (Salvia officinalis) and its cultivars. Sage has long been valued for its contributions to the cook’s palette of flavors. Its robust piney aroma and earthy flavor complement many ingredients. Sage is also an attractive garden plant, particularly in its fancy-leaved forms. Plus, it prospers under a wide range of conditions and adds a striking bold texture to mixed plantings.
Growing Info For Sage
• Light: Full sun

• Height: 18 to 24 inches
• Width: 24 to 36 inches
• Bloom time: Late spring, although valued most for its evergreen foliage.
• Soil: Well-drained, tolerant of a wide range of soil types.

What’s the Difference Between Types of Sage?

S. officinalis varies widely in the size and shape of its leaves. Sharp-eyed herbalists have spotted numerous selections with unusual leaves, taken cuttings and propagated the resulting plants so that we can all enjoy them. ‘Berggarten’ is a vigorous clone with large, broad leaves and a strong flavor. It’s probably the most productive variety for home herb gardens. ‘Curly’ was selected by Alice Doyle of Log House Plants in Cottage Grove, Oregon, from a wild population in Crete. Its wrinkled and puckered leaves give the plant a highly textured appearance. ‘Holt’s Mammoth’ has large leaves, although they’re often not as large as those of ‘Berggarten’. Dwarf forms of S. officinalis circulate under a variety of names, including ‘Compacta’, ‘Dwarf’, ‘Minima’, ‘Nana’ and ‘Robert Grim’. In general, these plants will reach 8 to 12 inches in height and width, making them significantly smaller than the species. Use them in containers or in-ground plantings where space is tight. Strains chosen for heavy production and good performance under greenhouse conditions are sometimes available, but these are usually of little interest to home gardeners.
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