Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Plant of the Week: White Sage

I am hesitant to give Salvia apiana the prestigious title of Plant of the Week.  I've decided that I am designating it to only the plant pictured above and not Salvia apiana as a whole.  At least the ones that have been hanging on for dear life in my yard.  This particular Salvia took to heart the saying "If it doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger" and survived my foggy, hot, more-humid-than-it's-used-to summer and in fact thrived off of it.  Its colleagues.  .  .  not so much.  Out of six plants, one exploded into leaves, two are taking it day by day and the other three kicked the bucket as soon as they could without being too rude about it.

So with this huge grain of salt, let us go through the benefits.  The scent will bowl you over with its overwhelming sage-ness.  Native Americans and some hippies burn the leaves for ceremonies.  Read Las Pilitas' hilarious take here, although I don't quite agree with their allusions to it being stinky.  I like it and so do bumblebees and hummingbirds (well, they prefer the flowers, but I digress).

Here you'll see my humbling moment in native planting.

Soil:  If you are growing it around here, I'd recommend well, well drained since it's used to drier conditions
Sun:  Full-on hot hot sun.  Plant it by the west-facing side of the house where most things dry up.
Plant:  Not at the beginning of summer like I did.  Now might be a good time.
Buy it:  Annie's carries it in 4" pots, and your local nursery might carry it in gallon sizes if you ask them nicely.  You folks down south will find it at Las Pilitas (see link above).  Someday I'll make it down there...
Good for:  Drought-tolerant gardening, ever-gray gardening, sagey scents, and ego boosting if you fare better than I did.


  1. Mmmm. For me, two out of three are doing nicely, and one is taking it slowly. Drainage might be key, the winners are along the dry stream bed. Mine are now a year old and haven't bloomed, but got by with very little water. I think they deserve to be Plant of the Month. ;->

  2. Yes, sounds like they've earned their title! I spoke with a very nice woman from California Flora Nursery last weekend and she said they were having a hard time because my climate is so different from where they are native to. Live and learn!