Clary sage has a pleasing, pungent aroma.
image by Sten Porse\commons.wikimedia.org
Clary sage, or Salvia sclarea, is a hardy biennial plant that produces small mauve or pink flowers in short spikes. Indigenous to the Mediterranean, Clary sage prefers hot temperatures, full sun and dry soil. Its aromatic leaves have been used since ancient times for perfumes, herbal medicine and cooking. Clary sage is drought resistant and can withstand cold temperatures as low as minus 4 F, but it is susceptible to damage from too much water in the soil.
Make sure that Clary sage plants are in very well-drained areas. If there is too much water around the roots, they will rot over a wet winter. In areas with very rainy winters, use a garden fork to mix a 2-inch layer of peat moss or compost into the area where you plant Clary sage.
Cut the Clary sage down to an inch or two above the soil after the first hard frost. This will help to protect the stalks and leaves from wet frost and excessive moisture.
Put a thin layer of mulch around the plant after cutting it down, especially if winter temperatures in your area are colder than minus 4 F. Mulch helps plants retain heat.
Water Clary sage once a week only if there has been less than an inch of precipitation.
Spread a thin layer of compost around Clary sage plants in spring, after the last hard frost. Add a 2-inch layer of mulch over the compost unless the area around the plant is already very moist.