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How to Grow White Sage in Zone 8

fresh aromatic sage. image by joanna wnuk from

White sage, known botanically as Salvia apiana, is a tender annual or perennial herb that is native to the warm, dry conditions of northern Baja in Mexico and Southern California. White sage is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone 8 where it lives as a perennial and thrives in semi-arid soil and a full sun exposure. White sage is cultivated widely as a ceremonial herb for smudging or burning and unlike common sage, white sage is very rarely used internally, according to Kansas State University.

Select a planting site with a full sun exposure throughout the day. While some lightly filtered shade can be tolerated by the foliage, it will diminish flowering and can produce leggier growth. Allow 12 to 24 inches between each plant to maintain a good air flow.

Provide a well-drained planting soil with moderate fertility. Heavy clay soil that allows water to pool in the soil should be lightened with coarse compost. This is particularly important in areas of zone 8, like the southern halves of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas, that are more humid than the plant's arid native climate.

Water your white sage deeply and infrequently as is does not perform at its best with constantly wet surface soil. It can tolerate drought but looks best and grows most vigorously with regular watering. Drench the soil so it becomes wet 6 inches down.

Harvest fresh leaves for use in arrangements or sachets by cutting a stem down to the crown of the plant. Cut back dead foliage as you see it throughout the year to keep the plant looking tidy.

Grow White Sage

White sage (Salvia apiana) is a small evergreen shrub native to the Southwest, particularly California. The plant has a history of use by Native Americans. White sage grows easily from seed and requires little maintenance once established. Start seeds indoors in early spring. Fill a planting tray or small pots with a seed-starting potting mix. Germination should take approximately 14 to 21 days. Keep the plants in a sunny location and water them when the soil dries completely. Allow excess water to drain from the containers. Improve soil drainage as needed with amendments such as sand and compost mixed into the dirt. Plant the white sage outside in the fall. Place the sage in the hole and backfill it with soil. Water thoroughly to settle the soil.

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