PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

White Sage (Salvia apiana)

White Sage is well known among those inclined toward smudging. It has been a sacred plant to the original people, including the Chumash, of what is now southern California and the Baja Peninsula since time immemorial. It has traditionally been burned as incense with the smoke acting to cleanse and purify. You can walk into any crystal shop and find bundles of White Sage for sale – and a lot of it is sold. Along with many other traditional medicine plants, its popularity has caused over-harvesting and irresponsible harvesting of wild stocks. One way to combat the abusive commercialization of White Sage is to grow your own.

Even though it is native to hot and dry parts of North America, White Sage can grow here in the wetter and cooler Puget Sound area. It is cold hardy enough, but sogginess is its enemy here. Imagine that difficult, exposed, dry parking strip in front of your house. That’s where it will be happy. If you have heavy clay soil, just dig down deeper and then mound-free draining soil up higher so the roots don’t sit in constant wet. While you’re at it, add Manzanitas, Rosemary, Lavender, and Thyme, a few artfully placed boulders, and you’ve got a gorgeous, fragrant dry-land garden!

White sage will grow into a lush mound of large grey-green leaves about a foot tall with spikes of pinkish-white flowers towering above in summer. Harvest and dry a few leaves, then burn them in the house like incense. You’ll be glad you did.

We have beautiful one-year-old plants available now. Open 10-5 Tues.-Sunday.