Sage The sage to grow is Salvia officinalis, often sold as common sage, garden sage, or culinary sage. You’ll see burgundy, gold, and variegated varieties sold in garden center, but if you’re serious about growing this plant for its flavor, stick with the ordinary silvery-blue variety. I like a cultivar called ‘Grower’s Friend’ because it rarely blooms. The level of essential oil drops after blooming—this is true of many herbs—so pinching back flower buds becomes a chore if you want more leaves for cooking and cocktailing.
Plant sage in full sun or afternoon shade, and don’t fuss too much over the soil—it actually tastes better if it’s grown in lean, sandy, dry soil. It’s hardy to about 0 degrees F, and with a glass cloche or some other kind of frost protection it might even tolerate lower winter temps. In spring, wait until you see new leaves unfurling, then cut the old, dead wood down to where the new growth is starting. Sage is not a long-lived plant—you’ll want to replace it after about four years. Oh, and it’s particularly good in tequila drinks.