Looking to plant sage in your garden but don’t know what type to use? Then you’ve come to the right place.
We’re going over the most popular, easiest to grow, and best-looking types of sage out there. You’re going to learn EVERYTHING from their growth needs to their appearance, smell, size, and even their uses.
If that sounds like something you want to learn, then keep reading!
What is a Sage Plant?
Also known as the Salvia (given its genus), sage is a mint-type plant that looks a lot like lavender, smells similar to other mints, and may work either as ornamental or as a culinary garden plant.
In contrast with other species from the Lamiaceae (mint) family, this one is often large. In fact, it is the biggest species in the mint family.
But the size is not what sets it apart. The exciting thing is how it grows. Some sages can grow to 3 feet, while others may reach over 6 feet tall.
The colors also differ exponentially, sometimes found in purple, others in red, and in some cases even white and pink. With leaves that make it clear it is part of the mint family, you can also find colors going from deep green to light gray and sometimes even yellow.
How Many Types of Sage are There?
Believe it or not, there are over 900 species of sage.
We would love to go over each one of them, but that would take an entire encyclopedia.
Be aware that most of these species are found in the wild. That’s why we decided to only talk about 14 different types of sage, the ones you can actually take home and grow.
Just remember, some of them are purely ornamental, while others are grown mostly for culinary purposes.
With that in mind, let’s learn more about each!
14 Different Types of Sage Plants (+Pictures)
1. Garden Sage (Salvia officinalis)
If you’ve seen sage in a garden or in the wild, you probably saw a garden sage. Also known as the common sage or culinary sage, the Salvia officinalis is easily the most popular out there.
It has an attractive appearance, boasting vibrant green leaves and stems, with purple-to-pink flowers (sometimes slightly blueish).
There are tons of different “common sage” alternatives out there, varieties that differ in terms of size, colors, leaf shape, and even purposes (some of them don’t even produce flowers).
However, the usual one can grow to about 3 feet in size, grows in a bush-like pattern, thrives in full sun (can tolerate some shade), and still manages to produce one of the most enticing scents.
Ready to grow in your gardens and become a go-to option for teas and dressings, the garden sage is the easiest one to find, grow, and care for.
2. Anise-Scented Sage (Salvia guaranitica)
Another common type of sage is the anise-scented. Boasting purple-blue flowers and deep-green leaves, it is one of the easiest to spot in gardens.
In contrast with the common sage, this one is entirely ornamental. Not only because its flowers and leaves are unique, but because it can grow to over 6 feet tall.
It grows as a perennial in cold environments. Yet, it can also grow in warm climates as an annual. Like most sages, it prefers humid soils, but it can resist drought for a few months.
The scent it spreads is similar to anise, woody and spicy, where the name comes from.
3. Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii)
A cold-environment sage, the autumn type grows beautifully all-year-round without faltering even in the coldest areas. Still, you can find it in warm zones thriving, as it is also drought-tolerant and can withstand warm environments.
The plant can grow to 3 feet in well-draining soils with enough humidity. Also, it produces pink-to-purple flowers, sometimes orange or red.
You can find it in gardens more than in the wild, as it is a highly attractive ornamental, more than it is culinary. But due to its minty scent and taste, it is also worth having in the kitchen.
4. Blackcurrant Sage (Salvia microphylla)
You can also find it as the Graham’s or Myrtle of the Mountains, as it is a high-elevation sage that loves cold areas.
This one is more of a culinary sage than it is ornamental, and it is often used in desserts. But that doesn’t make it any less attractive, as it boasts purple flowers that tend to stand out in any garden.
In the right environment, it can grow to over 3 feet without problems. Thrives in well-draining soils but also prefers some humidity.
5. Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
Rarely found in America, the clary sage is an African and Asian variety, mainly used in the cuisine more than in the garden. It is also an ingredient in many perfumes.
This one only thrives when it is in high-humidity areas, and it requires moist soil as well. To make it grow tall (up to 4 feet), the plant requires constant watering and cold temperatures.
When fully grown, it looks imposing nonetheless, as the flowers can go from purple to pink and even light red, making any garden stand out.
6. Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii)
It is also known as the Blue sage and the Jim sage. As a popular type, native to California. For that reason, you can expect it to thrive in warm environments and relative humidity. It also prefers sandy soils that drain well.
What sets it apart is the height it can reach, at over 5 feet, given the right conditions. But it’s not how tall, but how good-looking it is. Thanks to the ash-green leaves and blue-to-pink flowers, it is hard to overlook.
The flowers are different from other types of sage, as they’re often more like a spiral than a spike. For that reason, it is mostly used as an ornamental than a culinary variety.
7. Grape-Scented Sage (Salvia melissordora)
Like the name says, this sage has a slightly grapey aroma that’s easy to spot. Because of that, it is also heavily used as a tea and for culinary purposes.
The leaves are often light green, while the flowers boast a grape color, usually purple. It may also work as an ornamental in the right environment.
Generally, it prefers humid areas over dry ones. It grows to about 4 feet and has some of the woodiest stems out there. The bush-like appearance makes it stand out, as it can spread quickly.
8. Greek Sage (Salvia fruticosa)
If you don’t like purple, red, pink, or blue, you may want your sage white. That’s what the Greek sage offers.
You can also find it as the Faskomilo tea in stores, as it is one of the most popular culinary types. The flavor tends to be minty, just like the smell, making it a sought-after variety for teas.
This one prefers warm areas over cold ones. But it also thrives in humidity better than it does in dry areas.
9. Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea)
One of the darkest out there, the Hummingbird sage, also known as pitcher sage, grows dark-green leaves and dark-purple flowers.
Each flower grows like a spike, reaching over 4 feet in the right environment. It is also among the easiest to grow, as it doesn’t mind a bit of drought or shade.
This one also spreads truly fast. And given it doesn’t get sick in harsh environments, it is resistant to diseases and pests.
You can find it more fitting as an ornamental than a culinary sage, given its unique leaf and flower color.
10. Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)
Among the strangest varieties, the Mexican bush sage grows like the name says: bushy. But its bush appearance works thanks to the ultra-long spikey flowers, often pink and purple, that can reach very long sizes.
Most Mexican bush sage plants grow to about 3 feet and prefer humid environments over dry ones. It also thrives under full sun.
Due to its intense pink color and particular flower shape, it is used as an ornamental. It can also cover large areas in no time, thanks to its fast-spreading capacity.
11. Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)
The second most popular behind the common sage, this one produces deep-red flowers that sometimes bloom purple. Most of its leaves are small and tend to deliver slightly thin flower spikes.
Its name comes from the citrus taste and aroma it has. Resembling pineapple in a way, this sage is among the most popular in the kitchen as well. People use them for everything, going from teas to desserts.
The plant can grow to about 5 feet and thrives in many environments, even though it prefers cold and humid ones. Like the common sage, there are many varieties of the Salvia elegans to consider, sometimes more fragrant and with a deeper red color.
12. Sonoma Sage (Salvia sonomensis)
The smallest of all sages, the Salvia sonomensis grows no more than a foot and often produces pale purple-to-blue flowers. Some of the rarest varieties have white flowers instead.
This is another typical sage type in California, and it grows almost anywhere, going from warm areas to cold ones, without problems.
Most Sonoma sage varieties are used for ornamental applications, as the taste and aroma are often mild.
13. South African Sage (Salvia lanceolata)
Known for its lemony taste, the South African sage is a highly sought-after culinary alternative. It also has a slightly peppery tone, with a strong minty aroma.
It is also a small variety, often growing no more than 2 feet. The flowers, however, are beautiful with their light red to pink colors. Its leaves are often mildly grayish and light green.
As for growth, it is often found in dry and warm areas. But it also does better when growing in cold and humid environments.
14. White Sage (Salvia apiana)
If there’s a sage explicitly grown for consumption, that would be the Salvia apiana or White sage. There’s no doubt about its spicy taste, given it has a pine-like aroma that stands out in any garden.
It’s still a decent ornamental due to the uniqueness of its white flowers. Instead of spikey flowers, this one produces circular ones, like bunches.
As for growth, it prefers well-draining soil in moist environments, tons of sun exposure, and cold over warmth.
There are way too many types of sage out there not to bring one home. And with the ones above, you’ll have the whole package for sure.
So, what are you waiting for? Check the list above, pick the ones that most interest you, and then go to the garden center or nursery with that in mind.
You’ll probably find a sage perfect for your garden. And once it starts growing high and blooming beautifully, there won’t be a single pinch of regret. Do it now!