Purple Sage Planting Guide: What Is Purple Sage And Where Does It Grow

Purple Sage Plant
desert salvia
(Image credit: LagunaticPhoto)

Purple sage (Salvia dorrii), also known as salvia, is a bushy perennial native to the desert regions of the western United States. Used to sandy, poor soil, it requires little maintenance and is perfect for filling in areas where most other plants would die. Keep reading to learn more about growing purple sage plants and the care of purple sage in gardens.

Purple Sage Planting Guide

Growing purple sage plants is great because they require such little care. Used to desert conditions (lending to its other common name – desert sage), they are very drought resistant and actually prefer sandy or even rocky soil. Because of this, the most likely reason for a purple sage plant to fail is that the growing conditions are too rich. Only gardeners in the hot, dry regions of the western U.S. have real success growing these plants. Your best chance is to plant it in the hottest, sunniest, best-drained part of your garden. South facing, rocky hills are a good bet. If you succeed in growing purple sage plants, you’ll be rewarded with a medium-sized, round shrub with fragrant, fleshy, green leaves and vivid, purple flowers that may bloom multiple times in a single growing season.

Purple Sage Plant Facts

Purple sage can be grown from seed sown in the fall or cuttings planted in the spring. Plant it in a spot that receives full sun and mix a good amount of compost with the soil to improve drainage. Care of purple sage is extremely easy - it needs little in the way of water and nutrients, though it will benefit from a 1- to 2-inch (2.5-5 cm.) layer of compost once every spring. It will maintain a nice round shape without pruning, though some pruning either during or after flowering will encourage new growth. And that’s pretty much it. If you’re known to neglect plants now and then or live in a dry region, then purple sage is definitely the plant for you.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.