Clary Sage

Growing Guide

Where to plant

This large shrubby plant with pink flowers and purple-green bracts has aromatic young leaves which are used to flavour soups and meat stews. Used in Germany to give Rhine wines a muscatel flavour. Seeds, soaked in cold water, form a mucilage, which can be used to remove small particles from the eyes, giving its name, Clear Eye, or Clary. Add the dried chopped young leaves to potpourri. The bright olive green essential oil is an excellent fixative.

Sow depth


Space between seeds / seedlings


Row space


Size of pot needed (width / depth)


Germination (days)


Transplant (days)


Maturity (days)


Seed (days)


How to Grow

How to grow video guide
From seed

Grow clary in average to sandy, dry, well-drained soil.

Clary prefers a soil pH of 4.8 to 7.5.

Plant clary in full sun.

Freeze seeds for three to five days before planting.

Seeds require darkness for germination.

Sow clary seeds outdoors in mid-spring once the soil has warmed to 55° to 60°

From seedling

These are biennial plants, so will last over Winter if looked after well.

Plant clary in full sun.

Transplant clary seedlings to the garden about a week before the last expected frost.

If planting in pots, make sure the pots are above 15cm diameter.

In a pot

Winter growing: Grow clary indoors in winter in a bright window.

If planting in pots, make sure the pots are above 15cm diameter.

From Plant

Winter growing: Grow clary indoors in winter in a bright window.

Mulch outdoor plantings after the ground freezes in winter and remove the mulch gradually in spring to protect plants from heaving.

Feeding: Side dress clary with aged compost or feed with compost tea during the growing season.

Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers.

Excess fertilizer will result in leggy growth and fewer flowers
Care: After the first frost, cut the stems of first-year plants to 1 inch above the soil.

Mulch clary heavily to protect the roots over the winter.

Ready to harvest

Pick or snip clary leaves as needed any time after plants are 8 inches tall or taller.

Pick leaves in the morning for best flavor.

Cut flowering stems once the flowers are three-quarters open.

Cut whole stems of flowers near the base of the plant.

Collect seed

Biennial clary forms a rosette of foliage in the first year and 3-foot spikes of white or purple flowers in the second year.

Flowers: Clary has small lavender, pink, or white flowers that resemble garden sage.
Bloom time: Clary blooms in mid- to late summer after the first year.

To collect seeds, wait for flowers to dry on the plant and crush to reveal the small, round yellow seeds

When to Grow


Zone 1 - Cool

January , February , March , August , September , October , November , December


Zone 2 - Temperate

January , February , March , April , August , September , October , November , December


Zone 3 - Subtropical

January , February , March , April , May , June , July , August , September , October , November , December

Companion Planting

Tips for Care

Division: Older plants can be divided in early fall or spring.

Renew clary by dividing plants every three years.
Seed: Clary flowers in the second year.

Save dry flowers for seed.

Clary easily self-sows Transplant or pull out unwanted volunteers if clary self-sows too heavily.
Leaves: Use fresh or dry clary leaves as you would sage; flowers can be used as a garnish.

Use clary sage to season bread, stuffings, cheese dishes, and vegetables.
Flavor and aroma: Clary sage tastes just like a culinary sage; use it fresh or dried interchangeably.

Leaves can be bitter if used in too great a quantity.
Tea can be made from dried clary leaves or flowers.

Hang cut clary stems upside down to air dry in a warm, shady place with good air circulation.

Store dried clary leaves in an airtight container.

Pests & Problems