Growing Clary Sage: Enjoying The Clary Sage Herb In Your Garden
Clara Sages are perennial herbs, which means they grow year after year. They do not flower or produce seeds. However, when grown properly they will provide your garden with years of health and beauty.
You can easily grow clary sage plants from seed, but it takes time and patience to make sure the seeds germinate and get established before you want them to bloom. If you don’t have these things, then growing clary sage plants from cuttings may be the way to go.
You can purchase clary sage seeds online at any nursery. These seeds usually come in small bags or packets. There are many different types of clary sage available on the market today, so finding what works best for your needs is going to depend upon several factors such as where you live and how much money you have to spend.
Some clary sage varieties are very expensive, while others are relatively inexpensive.
When choosing clary sage seeds, look for ones that have been tested and proven to work well in your area. The following list includes some popular types of clary sage:
Cherryleaf (Prunus dulcis) – Cherryleaf clary sage is one of the most common kinds sold. It grows wild throughout North America and Europe. The flowers that bloom from these plants are a grayish-blue in color.
These plants reach a height of about 8 to 10 inches and tend to bloom almost year round in warmer climates.
One of the main reasons for growing this type is due to its highly regarded sweet-smelling flower oils. It is particularly high in eugenol, which provides a spicy aroma. A lot of perfumers and essential oil manufacturers use this plant to make various products because of this.
However, these plants are rather rare and expensive to buy. Only a few companies grow and sell them.
Two common varieties are P. dulcis virginalis (Virginian cherryleaf) and P. dulcis pluriseptima (Multiple-septimed cherryleaf).
The former grows wild in New Jersey, but is not as popular. The latter can be found growing in Pennsylvania, but is susceptible to disease in wet soils.
Spanish (P. hispanica) – These plants are not grown commercially. They are primarily sold by small nurseries online.
The flowers are a pale purple color and have a sweet scent. These plants are very hardy and can grow even in dry, hot conditions.
Spanish clary sage was once used to make Spanish saffron. In the 18th century, it was used as a substitute for oil of turpentine, which is made from pine trees. It was also used as a substitute for tea and coffee in those same periods.
It can also be used to make a salve that will soothe sore muscles.
The Spanish clary sage plant is a bit more difficult to grow from seed than the other varieties. It prefers warm soil temperatures (above 75 degrees) and doesn’t germinate well if the soil is cold. The seeds should be planted about 1/4 inch deep and kept evenly moist.
It can take up to three weeks for the seeds to germinate. Transplant the small plants when they are at least 2 inches tall. This type of clary sage can grow up to 10 inches in height, but it is a slow grower.
Purple (P. salictorum) – Purple clary sage is also rare and more difficult to find. It is native to the Pacific coastal area of the United States and Canada.
The flowers bloom from July through September and have a mild, sweet scent. This plant prefers dry conditions and can grow in hot, arid areas. It will grow up to one foot in height and width.
Although the plant is rare, this variety of clary sage is rather easy to find for sale online. Most nurseries sell the seeds for a reasonable price. It should be planted in early to mid-spring.
White (P. apiana) – This type is also known as bee clary or bergamot. It grows in the eastern and central United States from New York to North Carolina and as far west as Kansas and Texas.
The flowers bloom in July with a light, sweet scent.
This plant prefers dry, rocky soil and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. It reaches up to three feet in height. Like the purple clary sage, it is easy to find online and seeds can be ordered for a reasonable price.
Cultivation – In order to grow your own clary sage seeds, you need to obtain them first. Online nurseries sell packets of seeds for a reasonable price. You can also save the seeds after your plants produce their blooms.
Put the seeds into a cool, dry place until you’re ready to plant them in late winter or early spring.
The best type of soil for growing clary sage is a sandy loam soil that isn’t too loose or too compact. The soil should be well-drained and rich in nutrients. Prepare the area where you plan to plant your clary sage plants by digging up the turf or loosening the soil thoroughly.
Remove any rocks or sticks that are larger than a breadbox.
Make rows spaced 12 to 18 inches apart. Sow the seeds in the soil in spring as soon as it is workable, after the threat of the last frost has passed. Cover the seeds with soil and tamp them down lightly.
They should be planted about 1/4 – 1/2 inches deep. Water them thoroughly.
Keep the newly planted clary sage seeds well-watered until they begin to grow. Once they sprout, water them about once a week or when the top inch or so of the soil feels dry to the touch.
Clary Sage Care
Your clary sage plants will need lots of sunlight to grow properly, so choose a spot that receives at least eight hours of direct sunlight every day. These plants don’t do well in hot, arid conditions, so wait to plant them until spring or after the danger of the last frost has passed.
Clary sage plants prefer dry conditions and don’t need to be watered very often. If you have a soaker hose or an automated sprinkler system, you can set it to turn on every couple of days to keep the soil from getting too dry. Test the soil with your finger.
If it feels dry more than an inch down, it needs to be watered.
Fertilize your clary sage plants every three to four weeks with a good granular fertilizer. Pick one that has primary nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium), secondary nutrients (calcium, magnesium, sulfur and iron) and trace elements (boron, copper, zinc, molybdenum and chlorine). Follow the instructions on the package for the right amount to apply.
Clary Sage Pruning
Pruning clary sage isn’t necessary, unless you want to limit its size or shape. The best time to do this is right after it blooms. Prune the plant right above the second set of leaves under a bud.
Make your cuts clean and make sure they are on a slight diagonal so you don’t get a “healed” cut showing on the stem.
Clary Sage Pests and Diseases
Clary sage plants are relatively pest and disease free. They occasionally have problems with aphids, whiteflies and mealybugs. These insects can be washed off with water or wiped away with a soft cloth.
You can purchase insecticidal soap to spray on the plants, following the directions on the package.
There are no known diseases that affect clary sage plants.
Clary Sage Harvesting and Storage
You can start harvesting clary sage leaves, flowers and stems as soon as the plant is a few inches high. Snip off what you need and use it right away. The rest of the plant will continue to grow.
The leaves and flowers can be dried for later use. Bundle several stalks together and secure the bundle with a rubber band or piece of twine, leaving about an inch between each stalk. Hang the bundle in a cool, dark place until dry.
It should retain its deep green color and be relatively crisp.
Clary Sage History
Salvia is a genus of between 500 and surveillance spp. They are members of the mint family and grow widely throughout the world. The clary plant is a bi-annual plant that grows wild in Mediterranean region of Europe.
The stalks grow to about four feet tall and has pale blue, lilac or white flowers. The leaves and flowers are eaten as a salad green. They have a peppery taste similar to mustard greens.
Clary is a term used to describe many different types of plants with clear, or transparent, qualities. Native Americans used the common clary plant (Salvia viridis), also known as sage, as a remedy for eye irritations. Today, it is used in the manufacture of mouthwash because of its antiseptic properties.
Clary sage oil (Salvia sclarea) was used as a flavoring in beer during the middle ages. The herb went out of use for a while but became popular again in 1633 when an English physician wrote about its benefits for treating eye issues.
The term “clear eye” was often written about in the same manner as “fine wine” is written about today. The best clary sage was grown in Lincolnshire, England and its annual cost was more than that of pepper.
The oil from the seed was often used as an ingredient in perfume. It has a musky scent and is still used in perfumes, especially those marketed towards men. It is also used to flavor many different foods and is a major ingredient in absinthe.
Even though it was once believed that clary sage increased fertility in both men and women, it is now known to decrease erections and acts as a muscle relaxant.
It is still used as an ingredient in many skin creams and lotions due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is also said to be a natural remedy for hair loss and dandruff.
Other species of the Salvia are also used medicinally around the world, such as Salvia officinalis or common sage, which is used as an anti-inflammatory and expectorant. It is used to reduce swelling in the mouth and throat, speed healing of mouth sores and speed the recovery time from severe colds and flus.
Growing Clary Sage
Clary sage is easy to grow from seed. The seeds need to be planted directly into the ground. They won’t grow if they are first started indoors.
Seeds need to be watered consistently and given enough sunlight to grow. They can be harvested as soon as six weeks after planting. Each plant can produce up to three harvests per year with the first one coming in about 50 days after planting.
Each harvest can produce anywhere from half a pound to a pound of clary sage.
Clary Sage Benefits
Clary sage has many different benefits. It has been used to make an antidote for all types of poison over the centuries. It can also be used as a sedative to help with nervousness, anxiety and insomnia.
The plant also has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, so it can help with issues like acne. The leaves are high in vitamin A and have many other vitamins and minerals.
Clary Sage Side Effects
As with any natural remedy, there are potential side effects to using clary sage. In some women (and men), the herb can cause an increase in uterine contractions, so it should be avoided during pregnancy. It also shouldn’t be used by people with a history of estrogen-related cancers like uterine or ovarian cancer and should be avoided by anyone taking blood-thinning medication.
As it is a muscle relaxant, it can cause drowsiness and may impair one’s ability to drive or operate heavy machinery.
Clary Sage Oil
Clary sage essential oil is colorless and has a very pungent odor. It is used in the perfume industry and as a flavoring agent in foods. It should not be applied to the skin without being mixed with a carrier oil for safety reasons.
Clary sage oil should not be confused with clove oil which has often been misidentified as clary sage oil by people selling it.
When buying clary sage, always buy from a reputable dealer and make sure you know what you are actually getting. The leaves can easily be mistaken for other very poisonous plants so make sure you get clary sage and not something that looks similar to it.
When using clary sage, start with a low dose and work your way up slowly until you find the right dosage for you. Always keep clary sage out of reach of children and never give it to a child.
Clary sage is considered to be very safe and has few if any negative side effects. It should not be used during pregnancy, however.
It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before using clary sage if you have any ongoing medical conditions or are taking prescription medications.
Clary sage is sold as an herbal supplement in health food stores and on line.
It is also possible to grow your own clary sage. This can be a fun way to get familiar with the plant before using it. Growing clary sage from seed is easy and can be done indoors anywhere with plenty of sunlight.
A Note On Clary Sage And Pregnancy
Clary sage has a long history of use as a fertility aid by women who wish to become pregnant. It should be noted that there is no scientific evidence that clary sage helps with fertility and it should not be used by women who are already pregnant.
Clary sage may actually have the opposite effect of what is desired by causing miscarriages. The effects of clary sage when taken by pregnant women are unknown and there have been no studies done on this subject.
If you are trying to get pregnant, the best thing you can do is to talk to your doctor about the best course of action. In the meantime, stay away from clary sage.
If you are pregnant or think you may be, do not take clary sage. It can cause early contractions and may cause a miscarriage.
Clary sage may cause menstruation to stop, which can be dangerous for women who are pregnant and don’t wish to lose the baby. Clary sage has not been tested on pregnant women and it is not known whether it will have any effect on a fetus.
Clary sage should not be used by women who are breastfeeding as many essential oils are excreted in the mother’s milk and it is not known whether clary sage may pass into the milk.
If you have reason to believe that you may be pregnant, do not take clary sage. Talk to your physician about the best way to address any pregnancy issues you may have.
Clary Sage And Pregnancy – The Safest Way To Use Clary Sage If You Are Pregnant
The safest way to use clary sage if you are pregnant is to simply avoid using it at all.
The risks to the baby may be very slight, but why take the risk at all?
If you are pregnant or think you may be, do not use clary sage.
If you want to use clary sage to help with fertility, the best way to do it is to wait until you aren’t pregnant anymore.
If you are trying to get pregnant and would like to use clary sage, there are a few options available to you that might be safer than using the essential oil while you are pregnant.
If you are using clary sage to increase fertility, then it is best to stop the minute you find out you are pregnant.
Clary Sage And Pregnancy – An Herbal Alternative
There are some plants that act as emmenagogues, like black cohosh and angelica. These plants can be used in place of clary sage, but they should not be used during pregnancy.
How To Use Black Cohosh, Angelica And Other Emmenagogues If You Are Trying To Conceive
To use black cohosh, angelica or other emmenagogues to increase fertility and become pregnant:
Decoct 1 tsp of the dried root in a cup of water. Simmer 15 minutes. Strain and drink 3 cups per day.
You can also eat 1/2 to 1 tsp of the fresh chopped herb three times per day.
Clary Sage For Menstrual Cramps
If you are using clary sage for menstrual cramps, it is best to use it just before your period is due. You can diffuse it, apply it topically or use it as a massage oil.
Diffuse 1-2 drops of clary sage in your bathroom. This will help to alleviate cramps when they start. It may also promote menstruation if it is late.
Apply 1-2 drops topically to the lower abdomen, or diffuse it and then apply a few drops directly on your abdomen.
Massage 1-2 drops of clary sage oil into your lower abdomen.
Clary Sage For Menopause
Clary sage is sometimes used for menopause, although it isn’t as effective as conventional medicine and there are some risks involved with its use.
If you are using clary sage for menopause, avoid it before you know you are pregnant.
How To Use Clary Sage For Menopause
To use clary sage to address the symptoms of menopause:
Direct Application: Massage 1-2 drops of clary sage oil into your upper chest or abdomen. You can also apply it to your wrists or temples or any other area that tends to get hot or sore during menopause.
Diffusion: Inhale clary sage to alleviate hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings.
Clary Sage For IBS And Digestive Issues
Clary sage is sometimes used for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive issues. It may also be effective for treating other issues that cause one to bloat such as ovarian cysts.
If you are using clary sage for IBS or other digestive issues, it is best to wait until after you have gone through menopause before starting to use it.
How To Use Clary Sage For Digestive Issues
To use clary sage for IBS or other digestive issues:
Diffusion: Inhale the clary sage to help alleviate cramps, gas and bloating.
Clary Sage For Hormone Imbalance
If you are using clary sage for hormonal issues, it is best to wait until after you have gone through menopause before starting to use it.
How To Use Clary Sage For Hormonal Issues
To use clary sage for hormonal issues:
Diffusion: Inhale the clary sage to help alleviate hot flashes, mood swings and other symptoms of hormonal issues.
Sources & references used in this article:
February 6, 2019 by T Hartung – 2011 – Storey Publishing
A Writing Template, for Probing Students’ Botanical Sense of Place by J Houdret – 2002 – Hermes House
The planting plans of some seventeenth-century flower gardens by J Matthews – 2019 – gardenclubofpaloalto.org
Vegetables in the middle ages by J Rogers – 1999 – Storey Publishing