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Description

White sage grows into a mounding and sprawling shrub 3-4 ft. tall and 4-5 ft. wide. It is quickly recognized by its distinctive silvery-white foliage color and dramatic upward sweeping flower stalks. Chalky-white leaves grow 3-4 in. long, are arranged in a whorl pattern on stems and are highly pungent when crushed. Flower spikes begin to grow in late spring and can reach 4-6 ft. high; flowers are mostly white with tinges of pink to lavender.

White sage most commonly occurs in the coastal sage scrub and chaparral plant communities from Santa Barbara County to Baja California. Throughout this range it is a noted honey production plant with distinctive visual character. The combination of tall spikes and white flowers particularly with backlighting results in a bold visual impact in both native gardens throughout the Inland Empire. Plant in full sun, well-drained soils and provide low amounts of summer water.

Water Needs

The white sage grows best in sunny locations on well drained soils and with low amounts of supplemental water during summer. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water; it is desirable to have leaf litter and the top layer of soil beneath the stems to dry out between irrigation applications.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 1

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
 
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

 
0"-2"
0"-2"
0"-2"
1"
1"
1"
1"
1"
1"
1"
0"-2"
0"-2"
  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, click here.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Sprawling, Mounding
Growth Rate: Fast
Height: 3 ft. - 4 ft.
Width: 4 ft. - 5 ft.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Pale green
Flower Color: White
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil
Exposure Adaptations: Drought, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Slopes, Restoration, Hummingbird plant, Foliage accent plant, Banks, Attracts bees, Fragrant foliage, Attracts butterflies

Maintenance

After spring / early summer flowering, can be headed back by removing as much of the new-ish growth as desired (1). Doing so immediately after the first bloom encourages subsequent blooms, but sacrifices the development of seeds for wildlife to eat (S). Remove dead seed heads in the Fall (October), but save deeper pruning for Spring maintenance (1). Consider leaving some of the pruned dry seed heads in the garden for food, nesting material, and habitat for birds and other critters you want around (S). Older plants that look like they need refreshing can be cut back hard into older wood in November. Expect new growth to emerge within a few weeks (1). (Different) Cut back by up to 1/3 in Fall to keep compact form (2).

References

Associations

Plant Lists