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Clary sage

Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) is an essential oil crop. It has been cultivated in Russia for a very long time.

Clary sage (Salvia sclarea)
Clary sage (Salvia sclarea)
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©H. Zell (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Economic importance

The essential oil of sage is contained in its inflorescences (0.35%). It is used in perfumery, food industry and winemaking.

Cultivation areas and yield

In Russia, clary sage is grown in the Crimea and the Krasnodar Territory. From the former republics of the USSR – in Moldova.

The sown area in 1984 throughout the USSR was approximately 13 thousand hectares.

The yield of inflorescences reaches 3.0-4.0 t/ha.

Botanical description

Clary sage (Salvia sclarea L.) is a perennial herbaceous plant belonging to the Lamiaceae (Labiatae) family.

Taproot, well developed.

Stem branched, tetrahedral.

Plant height 100-120 cm.

The leaves are opposite, large, ovate, wrinkled, the edges are notched-toothed.

Inflorescence paniculate-branched, located at the ends of the branches. Corolla of flowers pink, lilac or white.

The fruit is dry, consists of four nuts with a smooth surface. Nuts contain a drying fatty oil.

Biological features

Clary sage is considered a culture that is not very demanding on heat and moisture.

Seeds begin to germinate at a temperature of 10-12 °C. Seedlings are able to withstand frosts down to -6 °C. With sufficient snow cover, it can tolerate frosts down to -30 °C.

Mature plants tolerate drought well.

Light-loving plant. Shading leads to poor plant growth, and yields are greatly reduced.

Fertile chernozem soils are considered optimal.

Vegetation and reproduction

In the first year of life, clary sage forms a rosette of basal leaves. In the second year, densely leafy stems form in the plants, inflorescences and fruits appear.

Crop rotation

In the crop rotation, special areas are allocated for sage, which are not included in the rotation and where it is cultivated for 2-3 years.

Winter crops are considered the best predecessor for spring crops. When sowing at other times, it is usually placed after mid-season spring crops.

Fertilizer system

Clary sage responds well to fertilizer application.

The recommended application rate of manure is 20 t/ha, full mineral fertilizer is N30P40-60K40.

Tillage system

When placing sage after winter crops and during spring sowing, tillage includes autumn and spring tillage.


Sowing sage can be carried out in spring or before winter, but in such a way that its seeds do not have time to germinate before the onset of cold weather.

Usually, a wide-row sowing method is used with a row spacing of 45 cm.

According to the data of the Voznesenskaya Experimental Station of the All-Russian Research Institute of Essential Oil Crops, good results are obtained by the usual row sowing method with row spacing of 15 cm.

Seeding rate:

  • with wide-row sowing – 7 kg/ha;
  • with the usual ordinary – 12 kg / ha.

Seeding depth on cohesive soils is 2-3 cm, on loose soils – 4-5 cm.

Crop care

Care of crops of clary sage consists in harrowing by seedlings and during the growing season 3-4 inter-row tillage.


Harvesting sage is started when the content in the inflorescences is not less than 0.12% of essential oil. To control the content of essential oil from the moment of flowering, laboratory analyzes of samples are carried out daily.

The beginning of the browning of the seeds of the lower fruits of the inflorescences is considered the optimal harvesting time.


Crop production / P.P. Vavilov, V.V. Gritsenko, V.S. Kuznetsov and others; Ed. P.P. Vavilov. – 5th ed., revised. and additional – M.: Agropromizdat, 1986. – 512 p.: ill. – (Textbook and textbooks for higher educational institutions).