Sage grows best in zones 4-10. Sage should be spaced 2 feet apart and should be grown in full sunlight; it does not grow well when it is grown in less than full sunlight. It is suited to sandy or loamy soil with a pH level of 5.6-7.8. The soil should be well-drained and have dry to medium moisture levels. Sage grows 2-2.5 feet tall and 2 feet wide. It is in bloom in late spring and early summer. Pinch out the flowers in order to encourage growth of the leaves. Sage should be replaced every 3-4 years. It repels insects and is a good companion plant when grown near cabbages and carrots. Once it has been established, it can resist droughts and is suitable for xeriscaping. Xeriscaping is a way of landscaping by using plants that are native and drought-resistant. This helps to cut down on the usage of water and irrigation.
Culinary and Medicinal Uses
Sage has antiseptic properties that and is used to treat digestive problems, sore throats, and ulcers. It can also be used to treat toothaches and is good for cleaning teeth. Sage has been applied to insect bites, skin, throat, mouth and gum infections as a treatment. In folk medicine, it has been rubbed on the skin to repel insects. The dried leaves are also popularly used in many different kinds of culinary dishes (1). Sage tea with honey is used by Mexican Americans today to treat colds (2). Sage seeds are chewed in Mexico to promote digestion. It can also help treat eye irritations (3).
Significance to Cultural Communities
The Cherokee Indians would use sage to treat colds or coughs. They also mixed sage leaves and honey for asthma (1). The name sage is derived from the Latin world 'salvus' which means health (2). The Aztecs ground up sage seeds and used it to make a drink called 'chianzotzolatoli.' Sage is still used in Mexico to make drinks with lemon and sugar (3). The practice of burning sage to cleanse a person, a group of people, and even a space has been done cross culturally for decades. Many Native American Cultures still perform this practice today; additionally Indigenous people of the Amazon perform ‘Palo Santo’ (sacred wood) sage burning ceremonies today as well (4).
1. Salvia Officinalis. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2013, from Missouri Botanical Garden website: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=m260
2. Davidow, Joie. Infusions of Healing: A Treasury of Mexican-American Herbal Remedies. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1999
3. Torres, Eliseo. Healing with Herbs and Rituals: a Mexican Tradition. Edited by Timothy L. Sawyer, Jr. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006
4. Lowman, C. E. “The Ancient Art of Burning Sage.” Natural Health. February 23, 2010. http://www.movingtowardspeace.com/mtpblog/the-ancient-art-of-burning-sage.html