White Sage Hardiness
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Leese Stevens
Posted on: August 9, 2000

I ordered the new white sage (Salvia apiana). It says tender perennial. I live in western North Carolina temps drop in the teens sometimes ocassionally lower. Do I need to bring the plant inside, or can I mulch it real good? Is the plant from out west in the USA?

It is tender perennial in our zone 5 at the Richters location in Goodwood. Richard Dufresne, an avid Salvia collector, says that white sage is hardy to zone 8, and "possibly to zone 7." North Carolina is mostly zone 7 and 8, so you could try leaving it out over winter.

Certainly, a mulch can help in "zone pushing", the practice of growing plants in a zone that is one colder than the rated cold hardiness. Equally, important for plant such as white sage which is native to drier California is to provide excellent drainage. If you situate your plants on a slightly elevated site (so excess water can easily drain away) and add sand to the soil if it is a heavy clay or muck type of soil, then you will be giving your plants the best chance for winter survival.

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