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  • White sage and common sage are closely related as plants but are different in both appearance and use. Sages can be difficult to grow, no matter what type you are trying to establish. They like alkaline soil and are perennial in climates that are warm year round.

    Uses

    Sages are known as aromatics. White sage is often used for smudging--a practice done by those who believe that aromas can bring about enlightened or peaceful thoughts. Garden sage, also known as regular sage, is used as a culinary herb. It is often added to vinegars, stuffing, meats and vegetables. It is a strong-smelling herb, so it needs to be used judiciously and in conjunction with complimentary herbs.

    Appearance

    White sage grows to between 2 and 3 feet tall and can spread to 8 feet or more. The brittle stems support tiny white flowers with lavender specks. The leaves of the plant are waxy and gray. It's the leaves that are used for smudging. Common sage or garden sage is marked by thick, fuzzy, green leaves that often have a hint of purple in them. This woody shrub grows to about 2 feet tall.

    Cultivation

    Both sages prefer an alkaline soil and a warm climate. It is best grown from cuttings, as seeds are slow to germinate and often do not grow at all. Pruning is essential to the growth of both white and common sage; discouraging flowering intensifies the aroma in the leaves.

    Harvesting

    Harvest sage in the summer or fall. If you live in an area where the plant will be perennial, don't harvest all the leaves at once. Clip the stems close to the plant and lay them on a screen or table to dry. After the leaves have dried fully, you can store the stems and leaves together by tying them at the base with a string and hanging them upside down in a dry place. You can also dry stems this way.

    Interesting Facts

    In addition to its culinary and aromatic uses, sage can be used as an insect repellant and an antibacterial or antifungal antiseptic. Some people use it as a natural deodorant.

    Source:

    Mountain Valley Growers, White Sage

    Floridata, Garden Sage

    Horizon Herbs, White Sage

    More Information:

    Alternative Medicine Zone

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