Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 09:02 pm
Those who reduce sage solely to garden sage are missing out on an incalculable wealth of magnificent species. The important question ‘Is sage hardy?’ is answered here for the best sage species. On top of that, there are instructions on how to prepare the Mediterranean plant for winter.
The best hardy sage species – an overview
True sage (Salvia officinalis) is considered the incarnation of a spice and medicinal plant par excellence and is the amateur gardener’s favorite perennial in the herb garden. The evergreen half-shrub retracts its above-ground plant parts in the fall. The root zone is hardy and survives the cold season unscathed to sprout anew the next spring. The following species and cultivars also have winter hardiness:
- Clary sage (Salvia sclarea): growing height up to 110 cm, purple, red or white flowers, similar in aroma to true sage.
- Whorled sage (Salvia verticillata): growth height 50-80 cm, rich flowering from May to September
- Silverleaf sage (Salvia argentea): growing height up to 70 cm, wonderful foliage ornamental perennial, hardy down to -28 degrees
- Sage ‘Aurea’ (Salvia officinalis ‘Aurea’): growth height up to 60 cm, yellow-green variegated foliage, rich in essential oils
If sage is hardy, it will fill in any gaps in the perennial bed that occur during the cold season. This is especially true of ornamental sage (Salvia nemorosa), which can be discovered in charming varieties. There it bothers little that the leaves are not suitable for consumption.
How sage comes through the winter well
Behind the attribute ‘hardy’ hides a wide range of temperatures. Thus, some species bravely defy even Siberian cold, while others should receive winter protection from -10 degrees Celsius. If in doubt, prepare the herb plant in the bed so for the cold season:
- From the beginning of July to mid-August, provide with a fertilizer rich in potassium.
- From the end of August, do not fertilize and cut
- Leave the withered branches on the plant until spring
- Cover the root zone with leaves, straw or coniferous twigs.
If the winter weather is determined by bare frost, sage is threatened with drought stress. Therefore, on frost-free days sage should be watered a little.
How to winterize sage on the balcony
Special winter precautions apply to sage in pots due to the exposed location of the root ball. In time before the first frost, give the herb plant this attention:
Wrap the pot with bubble wrap or jute.
Spread sawdust, leaves or straw on the substrate.
Place the planter on insulating material, such as wood or Styrofoam in front of the south wall of the house. Ideally, a bright, frost-free winter home is available.
Tropical sage species do not tolerate frost
In the context of cultivating exotic sage plants, the question ‘Is sage hardy?’ is unnecessary. Because of their origin, species such as honeydew sage (Salvia elegans) or sky-blue gentian sage (Salvia patens) do not naturally have winter hardiness. Move these candidates to a bright room with temperatures of 5 to 15 degrees Celsius in a timely manner.
Tips & Tricks
Does the poisonous thujone contained in sage bother you when you eat it? Then plant the hardy Spanish sage (Salvia lavandulifolia), because there is no thujone in it at all. Instead, the plant scores with gorgeous silvery foliage and a mildly aromatic flavor.