Clary Sage

Last year at one of the Schlafly Gardenworks events -- I think it was the summer gathering -- I picked up several free herbs. One of them was completely unknown to me: clary sage.

I planted the little thing in a large container in the sunny side garden, and watched it get huge last summer, muscling out the other herbs I had planted along with it. Now, this biennial is blooming.


I haven't yet met a Salvia I didn't love, and clary sage (Salvia sclarea) doesn't change that opinion -- it's quite nice!

The blooms are not overly showy, but the bracts are subtly colorful:

The leaves are large and rough, like some sort of prehistoric or alien skin:

Incredibly pungent too! Most species in the Salvia genus have strong-smelling leaves -- not pleasant to my sense of smell -- and this one doesn't stray from that. An Agastache it's not.

I wonder if the hummingbirds are visiting these blooms? Surely they must be, right?

I definitely want to grow this plant again, so I'll have to collect seed and get them started as soon as possible. There are a couple of other places in the garden I'd like to try this plant too, so I hope they're easy to grow from seed like many of the other Salvias.

(I know that clary sage is invasive in some parts of the country, but not in my zone 6 climate.)

Have you grown clary sage before? What do you think of it?


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Vesna Maric  – (June 7, 2013 at 11:07 AM)  

I have it too and I simply adore it. If you want them on the same place in your garden where they are now, just leave them to self seed. These plants are biennials and need to produce seedlings by winter. They will flower the next year and so the life circle goes on. If you want please, check out my gardening blog and the post about the clary sage.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (June 7, 2013 at 11:47 AM)  

I've not grown it personally but I've admired it many times in other gardens. It's reputed to be very short-lived so I've stayed away from it.

There's a beautiful white cultivar, too:

Hoover Boo  – (June 7, 2013 at 11:49 PM)  

Love that leaf photo. Looks like dinosaur skin!

Have not tried Clary--your photos make it look impressive!

The Gardening Blog  – (June 8, 2013 at 11:33 AM)  

Oooo! I'm a big sage fan - love the Clary Sage. I haven't been to a nursery in ages, so having a mission might get me there to buy one! Lovely specimen you have!!

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