United States Edition

White Sage  

Salvia apiana

White Sage is a plant which belongs to the Salvia genus.

This is the plant used for ‘smudge sticks’ in new age shops, reportedly it cleanses/purifies energy – places, things, and people. Unfortunately it is being overharvested in the wild. Difficult to grow from seed, but once established it clones well. Very aromatic, and great for xeriscaping.

It also contains a variety of oils that have potential medicinal use (including cineole), but there hasn’t been much research on it.

The seeds can be ground up for food, and the leaves (and roots) also used to make a tea.

Leaves appear approximately as a   Pale silver colour. A type of flowering edible herb, it mainly grows as a perennial plant - which means it typically grows best over a long period (from 3 years+). White Sage is known for growing to a height of approximately 2.96 feet (that's 91.0 cm in metric) with a forb habit. White Sage is a great plant to attract butterflies, bees and birds to your garden.

United States is believed to be where White Sage originates from.

This plant info is provided by the myfolia gardener's wiki. All details about White Sage have been kindly provided by our members.

How to grow White Sage

  • Full Sun

  • Low

Minimal water, no fertlizing or soil amenders – it prefers to be left alone once established.

Be careful when growing it near other salvias, it will hybridize.

White Sage likes a position of full sun and remember to apply water fairly sparingly.

See our list of companion Plants for White Sage to see which plants you should plant in close proximity to encourage growth.

Growing White Sage from seed

Poor germination rates – hard to grow from seed. Order plenty if you want to go that route.

By our calculations*, you should look at sowing White Sage about 84 days before your last frost date .

Transplanting White Sage

Southern California native so the nursery instructions were: do NOT amend the soil, do NOT over water. Put it in well draining soil, on a bank is great. It can tolerate both clay and rocky soil, and somewhere right in the middle is best. Water about once a week until established. You will know it’s established when a hot spell no longer causes the leaves to droop. If the leaves droop, it needs a wee bit of water. Once it is established, ignore it and it will be happy. I mixed in a bit of sand to my clay soil since they do like drainage.

Harvesting White Sage

For leaves, harvest only once plant is well-established. Cut off a few branches, hang upside down to dry.

Common White Sage problems

These problems, diseases and pests are known to affect White Sage plants:

  • Aphids

    Also known as greenfly and blackfly, Aphids are a common sap-sucking garden pest.

White Sage Folklore & Trivia

It grows wild on the Kumeyaay tribal land in Eastern San Diego county. The Kumeyaay use it in religous ceremonies, seem to be burning it pretty frequently for spiritual reasons, and it smells fabulous. Really a gorgeous plant.

Native to California and Mexico.

Other names for White Sage

Smudge Sage,

White Sage care instructions

How long does White Sage take to grow?

These estimates for how long White Sage takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world. Start logging and journaling your observations to participate!

When should I plant White Sage?

Our when to plant White Sage estimates are relative to your last frost date. Enter your frost dates and we'll calculate your sowing and planting dates for you!


Planting instructions came from Hunter’s Nursery (family owned since 1919) in Spring Valley, CA.

Popular varieties of White Sage

View the complete variety list for White Sage »

White Sage Forums

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