Growing Guide
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Clary Sage

Herbaceous Perennial or Biennial Flower, Herb

Also known as European Sage, Eyebright, Clear Eye
Salvia sclarea
Lamiaceae Family
Synonym: t

Hardy to Zone 5, this biennial or short-lived perennial is a striking, fast-growing, and fragrant addition borders. It grows up to 4 feet tall, but is not very useful as a culinary or medicinal herb.

Site Characteristics
  • full sun

Soil conditions:

  • requires well-drained soil
Wet sites can cause rot. Easily killed by excessively wet winters.

Plant Traits

Lifecycle: biennial, perennial

Produces a basal rosette of leaves the first year and flower the second year. In some areas plants will winter over and flower another year.

Ease-of-care: easy

Height: 2.5 to 3.5 feet

Spread: 1.5 to 2.5 feet

Bloom time:

  • late spring
  • early summer
  • mid-summer

Flower color:

  • violet
  • white

The pink to purple floral bracts remain showy after the white to mauve corollas fade.

Foliage color: medium green

Mostly green but varies toward gray.

Foliage texture: coarse


  • spreading mass
  • upright
  • loose and formless

Shape in flower: flower stalks with upright spikes

Large whorls of 4 to 6 flowers in upright panicles above the foliage.

Special Considerations
Special characteristics:
  • deer resistant
  • non-aggressive - Plants may self-sow.
  • non-invasive
  • not native to North America - Southern Europe
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed - Plants are biennial, so sow seed in successive years to have plants flowering every year. Plants readily self-seed, or you can sow seed in spring or fall. Fall-planted seed overwinters and emerges in spring.

Seed can be saved 3 years.

Maintenance and care:
Plants grown from seed can reach their mature height of 3 to 4 feet the first season.

More growing information: How to Grow Perennials

var. turkestanica grows to 3 feet and has long flower bracts.

'Vatican' differs little from the straight species and purchased seed, is more than likely straight Salvia sclarea. (The same is often tru for var. turkestanica.)