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SALVIA officinalis 'Purpurascens'

Image of Salvia officinalis 'Purpurascens'

James H. Schutte



Botanical Name

SALVIA officinalis 'Purpurascens'

Plant Common Name

Culinary Sage

General Description

The ornamental leaves of purple sage are dark dusty green with a light purple hue. New growth is entirely purple. It marries well with other sun-loving perennials adapted to sharply drained soil.

Whether used to flavor sausage, Thanksgiving stuffing, or butter for pasta, sage is a favorite herb in western cooking. This semi-woody perennial is an age old culinary herb used to flavor foods for centuries. Historical references also list it as an ingredient for medicinal teas and poultices during The Middle Ages. It is native to Europe and northern Africa where it naturally grows in Mediterranean chaparral shrub lands and open areas.

Garden sage is a bushy plant that produces long soft gray-green leaves that are evergreen to semi-evergreen and fragrant when lightly rubbed. Like most aromatic herbs, the aroma comes from glandular hairs filled with aromatic oil. These oil-filled hairs are found just along the surface of the leaves and are called trichomes. In late spring to early summer upright stems of two-lipped, lilac-blue flowers appear. These are subtly attractive, lightly fragrant and particularly attractive to bees. Cut the spent stems to maintain a neat appearance and encourage new leaf development. Garden sage will not rebloom into summer and fall, even if deadheaded.

This perennial herb is a joy to grow because it is pretty, functional and easy. It requires full sun and very well-drained soil. Excessive moisture at the root zone can lead to root rot. Avoid mulching it too. Once established, sage is very drought tolerant and will thrive where growing conditions drier, though it will also flourish in areas with regular rain if provided sharply drained soil and high light.

Harvest sage leaves year round. They may be eaten fresh or stems can be hung upside down to dry and stored for later use. Sage also doubles as a resilient garden ornamental. It looks super in rock gardens, mixed borders and containers. Variegated and purple-leaved cultivars are particularly well-suited as garden ornamentals.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 5

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    5 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    1'-2' / 0.3m - 0.6m

  • Width

    2'-3' / 0.6m - 0.9m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To


Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances


  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color


  • Fruit Color


  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Purple, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Purple, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Purple, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Purple, Gray Green

  • Bark Color

    Tan, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bedding Plant, Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Self-Sowing