Marin Master Gardeners
University of California
Marin Master Gardeners

Plant Guide

Salvia apiana

Common Name
White Sage
CA Native
California Native
Plant Type
2' - 3' x 2'
Flower Color
Bloom Time
  • Spring
Gray-Green to White
Deer Resistant
Rarely Damaged
Wildlife Value
  • Bees
Growth Rate
Adverse Growth Factors
Special Features
  • Low Maintenance
  • Specimen
Water Use
  • Drought Tolerant
  • Low
Soil pH
6.5-7.5 (neutral)
  • Full Sun
Soil Type
Not Particular
Well Drained
Description and Cultural Plant Tips

White sage is a slow-growing clumping perennial. It is difficult to establish and can take up to 3 years to reach a mature stage. It has a lovely whitish gray leaf.  When it blooms it produces a 2-5 foot flower stalk which is intoxicating to bees. That is why this sage is sometimes called bee sage. It is a great plant for a moonlight garden. The foliage has a wonderful aroma and is used for incense. It was used by Native Americans as smudge sticks.

Plant on a hot, southern slope with great drainage. Tolerates a wide range of soil pH's. Needs no summer water if planted in the fall to take advantage of winter rains.

Bees love this plant.

This plant has no serious pests or diseases.

Master Gardener Comments

I have this plant on a hot, south-west facing slope with minimum water and deer. It has been slow to take off but I have seen mature plants and they are lovely. Can't wait to see mine in another year or so.


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