Salvia clevelandii

Discover a California native that puts on a fragrant flower show.
Salvia clevelandii  (03) Habit

Salvia clevelandii (03) Habit

Salvia clevelandii (03)

Savor the color and fragrance of Salvia clevelandii. This chaparral native stages a spectacular late spring-early summer show with whorls of flowers in shades of lavender. Also known as Cleveland sage, Jim sage and blue sage, Salvia clevelandii is a favorite among pollinators. When flower buds open, hummingbirds and bees start buzzing around plants.  

Salvia clevelandii is an ideal choice for a drought-prone setting. Plants are hardy in Zones 8 to 11 and remain evergreen year-round. Leaves are green or silvery on top and lighter beneath. Cleveland sage leaves have attractive veins that give the foliage a textural pattern that’s visually appealing. Even when plants aren’t in flower, they’re eye-catching in the landscape.  

Give Cleveland sage a spot in full sun with well-drained or heavy clay soil. This desert native won’t survive if it’s planted where irrigation systems provide a regular water supply. Readily available moisture is a kiss of death to Salvia clevelandii. When plants are watered after they’re established, they tend to develop leaf blights and ultimately root rot.  

Give Cleveland sage space to sprawl, and you’ll be rewarded with a wonderful wildlife plant. Salvia clevelandii grows 3 to 5 feet tall and 5 to 8 feet wide. It’s not a small sage for a typical suburban landscape, but it’s a beauty in a larger perennial garden or meadowscape where it can naturalize. Ground birds like quail take shelter beneath mature Cleveland sage shrubs as they spread.  

Flower stems stand 12 inches above leafy branches. Blooming stems form in spring, and first flowers open in late spring. The bloom fest lasts several weeks, effectively bridging spring to summer. Blossoms appear in whorls around flower stems, with one to three separate flower whorls forming on each stem.  

Blooms open in shades of purple and lavender, giving rise to the name blue sage. As flowers open, pollinators mob the plants, including hummingbirds, butterflies and all kinds of bees. Flowers have a strong fragrance, earning Salvia clevelandii the name fragrant sage. Many gardeners position this salvia upwind of garden seating areas to savor the perfumed blooms.  

With such an abundance of flowers, it seems natural to include fragrant sage in a cutting garden. Use care taking stems indoors. Many individuals report that in an enclosed setting, a single stem can be overpowering. The fragrance is that strong. Take a test drive with a single stem in a bud vase before cutting a big bouquet of Salvia clevelandii.  

Some gardeners prune plants after flowering to get a second flush of bloom. Other gardeners allow flowers to dry and set seed. Birds flock to Cleveland sage plants to gobble seed, and the dried flowers, though brown, are attractive in a naturalized landscape.  

Prune plants twice during the year to keep size manageable and reduce sprawling. First, remove one-third of growth from stem tips in fall.  Follow up with a second pruning in late winter, removing one-half of remaining stem length. New growth will appear in spring, followed by flowering stems.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Chocolate Cosmos: Our Favorite Flowers

Love the smell of chocolate? Then you'll love these fragrant perennials.

Masterwort: Our Favorite Flowers

Scent up your garden with these fragrant flowers.


These colorful blossoms are often found in leis, those floral necklaces commonly associated with Hawaiian culture.

Heliotrope: Our Favorite Flowers

This perennial offers a double-whammy of pretty flowers and a heady, vanilla scent.


Read on for tips on growing these starry-shaped flowers.

15 Fascinating Facts About Rose Fragrance

This flower's powerful fragrance is one of the most costly scents in the world.

Fragrant Options for the Garden

Looking for something sweet? These fragrant plants will be a delightful addition to your garden.

How to Plant and Care for Lilacs

Learn why the old-fashioned lilac is now popular among modern-day gardeners.

Salvia leucantha

Give your garden some late-season wow with Mexican bush sage.

Salvia greggii

Meet a low-maintenance sage that craves heat and beckons butterflies.


Tiny Luxury

6:30am | 5:30c

Flea Market Flip

8:30am | 7:30c

Flea Market Flip

9:30am | 8:30c

Flea Market Flip

10:30am | 9:30c

Flea Market Flip

11:30am | 10:30c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

Fixer Upper

1pm | 12c

Fixer Upper

2pm | 1c

Fixer Upper

3pm | 2c

Fixer Upper

4pm | 3c

Fixer Upper

5pm | 4c

Fixer Upper

6pm | 5c

Fixer Upper

7pm | 6c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Fixer Upper

8pm | 7c

House Hunters

9:30pm | 8:30c

House Hunters

10pm | 9c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

House Hunters

12am | 11c

House Hunters

12:30am | 11:30c

House Hunters

1am | 12c

Fixer Upper

3am | 2c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.