Growing Tricolor Sage

Tricolor Sage-0018

Tricolor sage deserves a special spot in the herb garden. It’s fast growing, has wonderful colored leaves, beautiful blooms and a flavor deer find distasteful.

I believe it may be impossible to have too much sage in the garden. The tricolor variety is an ornamental herb with colorful grayish green leaves marbled with white, pink and purple. Lavender blue flower spikes will appear in summer. Strongly aromatic, the leaves may be used fresh or dried in cooking. Sage is also an attractor for bees and butterflies and an ideal plant for herb gardens, mixed borders or containers.

Sage looks impressive when combined with other herbs such as lavender, rosemary or hyssop. It offers an aromatic, earthy spice scent in window boxes or along pathways.

1. Where to plant sage

Tricolor Sage is well suited for pots or containers. It grows tall, up to 2 feet. It is happy in full sun and tends to be drought tolerant.

All sage varieties prefer well-drained soil and are drought tolerant. They make a great choice for mixed pots. Sage will become quite woody after a year or two so plants should be replaced every four or five years.

2. Cooking with sage

As a culinary herb, tricolor sage is the perfect for a wide variety of recipes.

Sage is popular in traditional poultry and stuffing dinners. Rub it on meats before grilling, or add to egg and cheese dishes. Blending a pork and bean soup seasoned with thyme and sage makes a memorable dish. Sage is also useful as an accent for fruit-based vinegars, creating beautiful mixtures with delicate aromas and tastes. Use dried sage sparingly in cooking; too much yields a musty flavor. Don’t overlook edible sage blooms. Toss them onto salads for a splash of color, blend them into butter or soft cheeses for an aromatic spread, or freeze them in ice cubes and give summer beverages a little zip.

3. Harvest tips

Pick sage leaves throughout the growing season. Use fresh leaves when possible, or air dry leaves. If you plan to harvest stems for drying, wash plants the night before with a spray of water. Cut the stems the following morning, after the dew has dried. Harvest the top 6 to 8-inches of growth on mature plants.

Cut sage back severely in the spring: before the new growth appears. Use a light layer of compost mulch to encourage growth.

Bundle five to seven stems together and hang upside down in a dark, dry place with good air circulation. Another drying method is to spread individual stems on screens. Sage leaves are susceptible to mold; keep an eye on drying stems. When leaves are fully dry, crumble them and store in airtight containers. Flavor will keep 3-4 months. Note that drying intensifies the flavor; use dried sage carefully.

4. Quick tricolor sage facts

Family:            Lamiaceae
Latin Name:   Salvia officinalis “Tricolor”
Type:                herbaceous perennial
Hardiness:      zone: 6 to 11
Growth:           12 to 24-inches high, 12 to 24-inches wide
Blooms:           May to June with Blue, Lavender flowers
Light:               Full to partial sun
Water:              Dry to medium
Leaves:            Colorful and Fragrant
Wildlife:          Attracts Butterflies
Tolerates:        Dry Soil, Shallow, Rocky Soil, Drought, Deer


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