How to Grow White Sage

Salvia apiana white sage is drought tolerant. image by


White sage--known botanically as Salvia apiana, and also commonly known as bee sage--is a flowering herb native to California and the Sonora Desert with a shrub growth habit. It is highly drought tolerant and will thrive in full sun exposures in dry, nutrient-poor soil. White sage blooms from May through August in its natural growth territory. White sage is commonly used in Native American rituals as a smudge material. White sage is hardy in USDA zones 8 through 11.

Step 1

Plant white sage plants in well-drained, loose soil. White sage does not thrive in container plantings over the long term as the drainage and soil space is rarely adequate. Plant white sage in September or October to allow sufficient time for the sage to establish its root system in the soil well before the heat and drought conditions of summer arrive. Place in a location with full sun to partial daily shade exposure.

Step 2

Water white sage with a regimen that mimics its natural adaptation to seasonal rainfall, which is to wet winters and dry summers. In winter, water white sage deeply until soaking twice a month. During summer, water your sage deeply once a week. Even if it seems like it is not enough water avoid the temptation to over water during the summer as it throws the plant out of balance.

Step 3

Prune white sage only as you desire to control the shape and size of the plant as it doesn't need to be pruned for bloom or growth. If the blooms are left on the plants the seeds can be harvested or left in place to self-sow. White sage does not require fertilizing; to boost the nutrient value of the soil, mulch with compost.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost


  • The Living Desert on White Sage
  • Kansas State University
Keywords: white sage, herb, smudge

About this Author

A communications professional, D.C. Winston has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals and film/broadcast media. Winston studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.

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