Salvia sclarea var. turkestanica, better known as Clary Sage has been grown in almost every botanical sanctuary in human history. Its uses are considerable: a flavoring for wines, an oil for perfumes, potpourri and incense. Medicinally, it's supposed to ease stomach ailments and even stop aging. Most importantly, it's gorgeous and thrives on total neglect.
This plant has many plus points, it is easily grown in well-drained soil in sun or even partial shade. It grows well in poor soil resists slugs and other beasties, and doesn’t slump or need staking. In full sun, with almost no water, the large, grey-green leaves remain attractive all season long.
Salvia sclarea var. turkestanica is a truly architectural plant with branched stems, each stem is topped with a profusion of pale blue blossoms and large pinkish white bracts, The flowers are attractive and are boosted in impact by the large petioles that surround them.
These stand above the large, aromatic, mid-green leaves, which can grow up to 23cm (9in) long. Coping well in sun or light dappled shade, the blooms are a magnet for bees and butterflies.
Sowing: Sow in late summer to early winter for flowering in spring the following year.
Salvia sclarea is a biennial plant and like all biennials, seeds are generally sown in early summer, the young plants develop their first leaves and a good root system by the winter. In the coldest months they die down and return with a vengeance in spring ready to put on a first rate flower show
Surface sow in pots or containers containing good quality seed compost (John Innes or similar) Cover with a fine thin layer of compost or vermiculite.
The compost should be kept moist but not wet at all times. Seed germinate in seven to 10 days at 20°C (68°F).
Prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10-15 days before planting out after all risk of frost.
Seeds may also be sown outdoors directly where they are to flower or in a reserve bed in a sheltered position. Prick out to 15cm (6in) apart and transplant in October.
Although drought-tolerant once established, a moderate amount of water must be supplied to young plants.
Salvia sclarea is a very obliging plant, it will put on a show under almost any circumstances. If you grow clary sage in poor garden soil, it will hang in and produce tough little plants that need no extra watering to survive. But the richer the soil and the more water they receive, the bigger and lusher the plants get.
If you have a limited water supply, and can’t or don’t wish to amend your soil, it’s good to know plants that will survive under those conditions. Clary sage is one of them. It’ll even grow in semi-shade, though it much prefers sun. The only places it won’t do well are in full shade and boggy, permanently wet soils.
Clary sage is a biennial plant, it will grow a rosette of leaves in its first year, the following year it will send up stalks, flower, produce seeds and then will die leaving its offspring ready in the soil to return in its place. However, as with a number of biennials, if you stop the plant producing seeds, the plants will very often return the following year. They have not expended energy on producing seed and have enough reserves to see themselves through the winter to try again next summer.
Pruning the spikes is a difficult choice, because the bracts are so beautiful in the garden. However, the cut stems do look ever so pretty in flower arrangements.
Flowers Borders and Beds, Wildlife Gardens, Cut or Dried Flowers. Medicinal or tea herb, Beneficial plant, Culinary herb.
Like all sages, the plant contains oil Clary Sage is an ancient species that has been grown for economic, culinary and medicinal uses, as well as for its handsome ornamental virtues. It is grown as a farm crop for the cosmetic and fragrance industry for its valuable sclareol resin. It is used widely in perfumes and flavouring for vermouths, liqueurs and wines.
Other varieties used for distillation are S. verticulata and S. candelabrum. All yield oils which are similar in composition and therapeutic properties. The world annual production of the essential oil is about 100 tonnes.
Salvia sclarea var. turkestanica is It is native to the northern Mediterranean, along with some areas in north Africa and Central Asia. It was one of the first Salvias described by the Ancient Greeks, who used it medicinally to make eye washes and other remedies.
It belongs to the Lamiaceae, Labiatae (mint) family