Growing Clary Sage: Enjoying The Clary Sage Herb In Your Garden

Clary sage plant (Salvia sclarea) has a history of use as a medicinal, flavoring agent and aromatic. The plant is an herb in the genus Salvia which encompasses all the sages. Salvia sclarea is primarily grown in the temperate areas of the world and is a short-lived herbaceous perennial or biennial. More commonly known as Cleareye or Eye bright, clary sage herb is easy to grow and adds an ornamental display of flowers to the herb garden.

Clary Sage Herb

Clary sage plant is native to the Mediterranean and parts of Europe. It is most commonly cultivated in Hungary, France and Russia. Both the leaves and flowers are used in flavoring and teas as well as aromatherapy applications.

The plant also yields an essential oil called clary oil or muscatel sage, which is used for topical afflictions and in aromatherapy applications.

Growing clary sage for home use provides all these benefits and is safe for human consumption according the Purdue University.

How to Grow Clary Sage

Clary sage is a biennial that begins as a rosette in the first year and will grow a flower stalk the second year. It is a short-lived plant that will usually die after the second year, although in some climates it may persist weakly for one or two more seasons. The plant can grow up to 4 feet tall and produces purplish blue flower spikes from late spring into mid summer. Flowers are held in panicles which contain four to six blooms. Cultivators grow clary sage primarily for the flowers, which are dried or pressed for various uses.

Growing clary sage can be accomplished down to USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 5. Clary sage plant grows and establishes quickly in full sun and well drained soils. Sage can be started from seed, cuttings or layered. The most important attribute for growing clary sage is drainage. Wet sites can rot the plant or severely curtail its growth. The plant will need supplemental irrigation until it is established but can provide its own moisture thereafter except in very arid zones.

Using Clary Sage in the Garden

Clary sage is deer resistant, which makes it ideal for the naturalized or meadow garden. The plant may spread by seed but volunteer seeding is usually minimal. The herb requires a chilling period of at least three months to produce flowers and is not a good performer in hot climates for this reason. Clary sage plant does well in an herb or pottage garden or mixed in a border of perennials. It attracts honeybees and other pollinators to the garden.

Varieties of Clary Sage Herb

Clary sage has two common cultivars. A variation called turkestanica is a 3-foot tall version of the herb with longer flower bracts and a more pronounced blue color. The cultivar ‘Vatican’ is a white flowering clary sage herb with the same cultivation requirements as the parent herb.

Salvia sclarea

  • Datasheet

Botanical Properties

The sage genus comprises a few hundred species, all belonging to the Lamiaceeae family. Clary sage is a herbaceous, biannual plant. It is aromatic and fragrant, with quadrangular stems that can reach up to 1.50m in height when correctly produced. It is not only aromatic but also decorative, with grey-green leaves and flowers that vary in colour, from pink to blue.

Origin and history

Sage thrives best in meridional regions, but is still widespread throughout Europe. For the ancient Egyptians and throughout the Middle Ages it was considered a sacred plant, and was used in many purification rituals and magical potions. It is considered a cornerstone of traditional medicine, indeed “salvia” in Latin means “to heal, to save”.
Nowadays, it is commonly grown in our back-gardens for its uses as a condiment and aromatic plant.

Organoleptic properties

 Aspect: liquid
 Colour: yellow
 Odour: herbal

Distilled parts: Leaves

Country of origin: France

Density: 0.848 – 0.872


Main biochemical components or chemotype:
Linalyl acetate, Linalool
Allergenic molecules naturally found within this essential oil:
Linalool, Geraniol
Certain natural components of this essential oil may cause allergic reactions. Please do an allergy test on the skin in the crease of your elbow before using this product.


Our organic clary sage essential oil is:
• Antisudorific
• Oestrogen-like
• Advised pre-menopause
• A hair follicle tonic
• Diuretic
• Antibacterial
• Antimycotic
• Endocrine system modulating


Our organic clary sage essential oil is particularly adapted to women. Its influence on female hormones helps to regulate the menstrual cycle and rebalance menopausal women.
It also stabilises sebum secretion and perspiration. It is the perfect product against sweaty hands and feet. It also invigorates the scalp and hair follicles, thus fortifying and promoting hair growth.



Please consult a doctor before taking any treatment or therapy orally.
Oral administration:
Take 1 drop of organic essential clary sage oil 3 times a day, with some honey, or on a lozenge under the tongue, during the menopause.
On the skin:
Mix 3 drops of organic clary sage essential oil into your shampoo: this will help prevent your hair from getting greasy.

Possible synergies

Scalp care: Carrot, Lavender

Energetic values and synergies

In energy aromatherapy, organic clary sage essential oil is linked to the throat chakra, Vishuddhi. It is associated with the colour blue.
Clary sage will help to regulate excessive emotions, dissipate one’s fears and regain confidence in oneself.
Synergy: Nard, Lavender.


Inflammable. Utilisation par voie orale sur avis médical. Tenir hors de portée des enfants. Éviter les contacts avec les yeux. Déconseillée aux enfants de moins de 3 ans et aux femmes enceintes ou allaitantes. Ne pas appliquer sur la peau avant une exposi


Les informations données sur les huiles essentielles à travers ce site internet sont délivrées à titre informatif. Ils ne sauraient en aucun cas remplacer les conseils administrés par un médecin. Pour toute utilisation thérapeutique ou si vous souhaitez o

Clary Sage
Botanical Name: Salvia sclarea

Clary Sage is an herbaceous biennial or short lived perennial, growing to about 1 meter, although the range varies with different cultivars. The green-grey leaves are, quite simply, huge! They are 30cm long at the base and may be up to 50cm long as they move up the stems, and as wide as a hand span in some cases. The leaves are arranged in pairs around the hair covered, square brownish stems. They are oblong and heart shaped with a wrinkled, velvet like texture and toothed margins.

The summer blooming flowers are held in bracts that range in colour from pale mauve to lilac and extend up long, loose terminal spikes. The 2.5cm corolla is a lilac or pale blue and sits wide open, with the most colour on the margins. There are several modern cultivars, including ‘Turkestanica’ with pink stems and white flecked flowers on long 75cm spikes. They are strong bee and butterfly attractants and apiarists often plant them for their bees.

The whole plant has a strong aroma, which some say is very like lavender and others say it is like pineapple. Still further descriptions suggest that it is a musky aroma that is either loved, or hated and likened to an ‘old socks’ smell. The aroma is courtesy of the active constituents in the plant. Salvia sclarea has a long history of medicinal use and is currently grown commercially for its essential oils.

The Clary Sage is an ancient plant and centuries ago there were many garden varieties that went by names such as Horminum and Gallitricum. The plant may also go by the name Clear Eye and Eye Bright in reference to early medicinal uses. The English name Clary is derived from the Latin ‘sclarea’, which is from the word ‘clarus’ meaning ‘clear’. This was due to the use of the plant to clear eyes, and the name clary eventually became ‘clear eye’ in many areas.

Clary Sage is native to the northern Mediterranean, specifically Syria, Italy, Southern France and Switzerland. It also grows naturally in some areas of northern Africa and central Asia. It has been naturalised to many areas of Europe and throughout the world. The salvia family has over 900 members with an extensive history as culinary, medicinal and ornamental plants.

Ornamental salvias have become collectors’ items, as gardeners try to find a place in their garden for each and every one. There are salvias that will suit every type of soil and climate. More information on the Salvia genus and Common Sage (Salvia officinalis) may be found on our Common Sage page.

Medicinal Uses

Clary Sage has a strong tradition of medicinal use and is used by herbalists today, as an essential oil. Traditionally it was used for numerous complaints, in particular stomach and digestive problems, kidney complaints and for insomnia. In the 1st Century, the medicinal use of clary sage was mentioned in writing by Dioscorides and Pliny the Elder, while Theophrastus wrote about the herb in the 4th Century. In 1653, clary sage was recorded as being called ‘clear eye’ due to its value in removing foreign objects from eyes. The seeds have a mucilaginous coat and when crushed make a sticky paste that may be placed in the eye to help adhere to the offending object.

Today herbalists use it for a variety of purposes including treating depression, anxiety and fear, as an antispasmodic, and to treat menstrual concerns. Clary sage may be used fresh or dry. However, it should not be used by pregnant women. Additional information about the uses of sage may be found in the Common Sage entry.

An old herbal remedy was to use ‘the juice of the herb, drunk in ale or beer, as a treatment for women’s disorders.’ In Jamaica, where the plant grew naturally, local people used clary sage to help heal ulcers, inflammation of the eye, and in combination with coconut to cure scorpion stings.

Culinary Uses

Today, Clary sage is used as flavouring in vermouths, wines and liqueurs. In 1822, a writer detailed the use of Clary Sage in wines and as hops for beers. In Germany, the plant is called Muscatel Sage, due to the early use of the plant, combined with Elder Flower, to flavour Rhenish wines giving them a taste similar to Muscatel.

Other Uses

Clary sage is used as a tonic to help clean greasy hair, as well as a fixative in perfumes, soaps and cosmetics. The aroma of the essential oil is like that of ambergris. It may be used for cut flowers, although some suggest that the aroma is too strong and that the plant should be dried first and used as everlastings.

Salvia sclarea (Clary Sage) Herb Plant

Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) Herb in 1 litre Pot

Clary Sage is a biennial or short-lived herbaceous perennial it is a striking plant when in full flower, the flowers appear in whorls on a long, loose spikes, and are a pale pink and violet flushed and to add to the striking display, they are interspersed with large variegated purple and white bracts. Native to the northern Mediterranean, along with some areas in north Africa and Central Asia, Clary Sage prefers a light well-drained soil and a sunny situation. Clary sage has square, brownish, hairy stems growing 60-90cm, and sports leaves that are large, heart-shaped, wrinkled, irregularly toothed at the margins and covered with velvety hairs. Clary Sage will self seed, and seedlings can be planted out with great success if kept well watered. Great in a mixed border but especially at home in a cottage style or informal garden setting.

Herb Usage

Clary Sage has been used in traditional healing for centuries. The plant has a lengthy history as a medicinal herb, and is currently grown for its essential oil. It is often included in botanical body products, such as bath oil and hair care compounds, and it is also available in the form of a pure essential oil. The odour of clary sage is very distinct, and the herb is said to have soothing properties which can be beneficial to health. THe leaves its self have a pungent aroma and whilst it could be used like sage it is probably best grown to admire the striking floral display which is also popular with pollinating insects.

The essential oil is toxic in large quantities and should be avoided by pregnant women as it may be harmful or induce contractions. It is quite often put into massage oil for use to during or to possibly induce labour !

Buy Clary Sage Online

Our Potted Clary Sage herb plants are generally available to buy online between March and September.

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I’ll never forget the first time I saw clary sage (Salvia sclarea) in bloom. I literally stopped in my tracks. I’m a big fan of salvia and these were the largest salvia flowers that I had ever seen. It was difficult to believe that this was an herb and not an ornamental plant. Herb plants don’t normally have such showy flowers.

Clary sage is also known as Eye Bright or Clear Eye. This stems from its ancient use in helping to remove foreign bodies from the eyes. The seeds have a mucilaginous coat which is sticky. When you had something in your eye, you would place a clary sage seed in your eye. The idea was that the seed would stick to whatever was in your eye making it easier to remove. I DO NOT recommend trying this.

Other medicinal uses for clary sage in the past included treatments for digestive issues, sore muscles, menstrual issues, insomnia, kidney disease and anxiety.

Nowadays the essential oil of clary sage is used to flavor vermouths, wines and liqueurs. It is also used in aromatherapy. Personally, I don’t find the scent of clary sage to be pleasant. It’s kind of a musty smell.

Clary sage is deer resistant. The leaves are hairy and heavily scented, both of which deer dislike. Like a lot of herbs, it also attracts beneficial insects, including butterflies.

Clary sage is a biennial or short lived perennial native to the Mediterranean area, North Africa and Central Asia. It is hardy in zones 5 through 9. Grow it in full sun and well-drained soil. The plants are drought tolerant but grow best when watered regularly. The first year the plants grow a basal rosette of leaves that can be 2 to 3 feet wide. The second year, they send up a flower stalk that is 2 to 4 feet tall. The flowers are lavender and white. Bloom time is early summer. If you remove the flower stalk before it goes to seed, you may be able to coax another year or two out of the plants. Most gardeners allow the flowers to go to seed because it readily self-sows in the garden, assuring you of flowers for many years to come.

If you are not lucky enough to have clary sage in your garden already, it is easy to start it from seed to add to your garden. You can direct sow your seeds in your garden in the fall in warmer areas or in the early spring in colder areas. Sow the seeds ¼ inch deep and 1 to 2 inches apart. Germination should occur in 10 to 14 days unless you are sowing your seeds in the fall, in which case they will not germinate until the following spring when the soil has warmed to 70⁰F to 75⁰F. Thin the seedlings to 12 inches apart.

You can also start your seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost. Sow them in soil that is 70⁰F to 75⁰F. You may have to use a heat mat. They need the warmth to germinate because outdoors, the seeds are produced during the summer when both the soil and the air are warm. Sow the seeds ¼ inch deep. Germination should occur in 10 to 14 days. You can transplant your seedlings into your garden after your last frost. Plant them 12 inches apart to give them room to grow.

Remember – you won’t see any of those spectacular flowers until the following year. Clary sage blooms during its second year of growth.

Clary Seeds – Clary Sage Herb Seed

Herb Specifications

Season: Biennial

USDA Zones: 4 – 10

Height: 48 inches

Bloom Season: Late spring to early fall

Bloom Color: Bluish white

Environment: Full sun

Soil Type: Well-drained garden soil, ph 6.1 – 7.8

Planting Directions

Temperature: 68F

Average Germ Time: 7 – 14 days

Light Required: No

Depth: Seeds must be covered thinly

Sowing Rate: 2 – 3 seeds per plant

Moisture: Keep seeds moist until germination

Plant Spacing: 24 – 30 inches

Clary (Salvia Sclarea) – Clary is an herb plant that is well-known for its many uses. It is easy to grow from Clary seeds, in the mint family and related to common sage. Often it is called Clary Sage. The Clary Sage herb is a biennial having a 2-year life cycle, so it flowers and sets seed the second growing season. It has large, fuzzy green leaves, and it produces white to bluish white flowers. It is an easy plant to grow from herb seeds and maintain. It prefers a position in full sun and well-drained garden soil to grow in. If Clary is watered once each week, it will do very well. The Clary plant can handle some cold, but giving it some winter protection is beneficial.

The Clary Sage plant has been known as a medicinal herb since the ancient Greeks. Clary herb essential oil is used to treat inflammation, anxiety, PMS and hot flashes. The oils are still used today as a stabilizing agent in the manufacturing of perfumes and soaps as well as a flavoring for alcoholic beverages. Clary is not considered to be much of a culinary herb, but the leaves can be added to salads.

How To Grow Clary Sage From Herb Seed: It is recommended to start Clary seeds indoors 6 weeks before the end of frost season. Transplant the Clary Sage seedlings outdoors into a prepared seedbed once temperatures are warm overnight.

Clary also called clary sage is an herb with colorful bracts that range in color from pale mauve to lilac or white to pink with a pink mark on the edge. It is a standout in the perennial border. Clary leaves taste much like culinary sage with a warm, pungent camphor fragrance. Clary can be used in place of culinary sage in cooking and leaves can be used to make teas and flowers can be added to salads.

Get to Know Clary

  • Botanical name and family: Salvia sclarea is a member of the Lamiaceae–mint family.
  • Origin: Northern Mediterranean
  • Type of plant: Clary is a biennial, but grows as an annual in some regions and as a short-lived perennial in other regions. Biennial clary forms a rosette of foliage in the first year and 3-foot spikes of white or purple flowers in the second year.
  • Growing season: Summer
  • Growing zones: Clary grows best in Zones 5 to 8.
  • Hardiness: Clary prefers hot dry weather.
  • Plant form and size: Clary is an upright, branched plant that grows 2½ to 3 feet tall with square stems and broad, oblong, aromatic leaves.
  • Flowers: Clary has small lavender, pink, or white flowers that resemble garden sage.
  • Bloom time: Clary blooms in mid- to late summer after the first year.
  • Leaves: Clary has gray-green leaves 6 to 9 inches long; they are wrinkled and downy with slightly toothed edges. Leaves grow opposite one another on square stems.

How to Plant Clary

  • Best location: Plant clary in full sun.
  • Soil preparation: Grow clary in average to sandy, dry, well-drained soil. Clary prefers a soil pH of 4.8 to 7.5.
  • Seed starting indoors: Start clary seeds indoors about 8 weeks before the last spring frost. Seed germinates in about 14 days.
  • Transplanting to the garden: Transplant clary seedlings to the garden about a week before the last expected frost.
  • Outdoor planting time: Sow clary seeds outdoors in mid-spring once the soil has warmed to 55° to 60°
  • Planting depth: Sow seed ½ inches deep. Freeze seeds for three to five days before planting. Seeds require darkness for germination.
  • Spacing: Space clary plants 10 to 24 inches apart.
  • How many to grow: Grow 1 clary plant for cooking and culinary use; grow 6 plants for tea and preserving.

How to Grow Clary

  • Watering: Allow the top inch or two of soil to dry before watering clary again.
  • Feeding: Side dress clary with aged compost or feed with compost tea during the growing season. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers. Excess fertilizer will result in leggy growth and fewer flowers
  • Care: After the first frost, cut the stems of first-year plants to 1 inch above the soil. Mulch clary heavily to protect the roots over the winter.
  • Container growing: Grow clary in pots at least 6 inches wide and deep.
  • Winter growing: Grow clary indoors in winter in a bright window. Mulch outdoor plantings after the ground freezes in winter and remove the mulch gradually in spring to protect plants from heaving.

Troubleshooting Clary

  • Pests: Clary can be attacked by two-spotted spider mites. Wash plants with water to remove mites. Mites can also be controlled with insecticidal soap.
  • Diseases: Clary is susceptible to root rot in poorly drained soil. Add aged compost to planting beds often to keep the soil well-drained.

How to Harvest Clary

  • Pick or snip clary leaves as needed any time after plants are 8 inches tall or taller. Pick leaves in the morning for best flavor. Cut flowering stems once the flowers are three-quarters open. Cut whole stems of flowers near the base of the plant.

Clary in the Kitchen

  • Flavor and aroma: Clary sage tastes just like a culinary sage; use it fresh or dried interchangeably. Leaves can be bitter if used in too great a quantity.
  • Leaves: Use fresh or dry clary leaves as you would sage; flowers can be used as a garnish. Use clary sage to season bread, stuffings, cheese dishes, and vegetables.
  • Teas: Tea can be made from dried clary leaves or flowers.

Preserving and Storing Clary

  • Drying: Hang cut clary stems upside down to air dry in a warm, shady place with good air circulation.
  • Storing: Store dried clary leaves in an airtight container.

Propagating Clary

  • Seed: Clary flowers in the second year. Save dry flowers for seed. Clary easily self-sows Transplant or pull out unwanted volunteers if clary self-sows too heavily.
  • Division: Older plants can be divided in early fall or spring. Renew clary by dividing plants every three years.

Also of interest:

How to Grow Basil

How to Grow Rosemary

How to Grow Sage

How to Grow Oregano

How to Grow Mint

How to Start a Herb Garden

Growing Herbs for Cooking

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