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Meal sage is kept as an ornamental plant in this country. The sun-loving plants can be planted out in the garden bed or cultivated in a bucket on the balcony or terrace. But be careful, flour sage is not hardy and does not tolerate frost at all. Therefore it has to spend the cold season in a warm location.

Meal sage, also known as mealy sage or common sage, is a plant species from the genus sage (Salvia) within the mint family (Lamiaceae). The homeland of Salvia farinacea, as the plant is botanically named, is New Mexico and northeastern Mexico. In these regions it grows mainly in prairies and meadows.

Hardiness of Meal Sage

Since the flour sage comes from warmer regions, it does not survive the German winter outdoors. Therefore, it is often only cultivated as an annual plant. However, if it gets a warm spot in winter, it will also impress next year with its bright blue to white flowers.


During the outdoor season, the mealy sage loves sunny to semi-shady locations. On these it blooms from June until the first frost. Nevertheless, the plant should move to its winter quarters before the first frost, because it cannot survive the icy temperatures outdoors. In other words, if the first frost hits them, the plant dies.

Although this species of sage is not hardy, it can be planted out in the garden bed during the outdoor season. When the first frost approaches, however, the plant must be dug up and put into a bucket. In this way, it can easily move into the winter quarters together with its colleagues, who are cultivated in the tub, because the plants cannot survive a warm spot on the balcony or terrace during the cold season, even if the tub is protected against the cold with fleece.

winter quarters

Mealy sage loves the sun. Therefore, you should also give it a bright and sunny place in winter. For smaller specimens is one sunny windowsill the ideal location for the cold season. Larger plants that no longer fit on the windowsill should overwinter in a heated room. The unheated staircase or stairwell is not an optimal winter location for the mealy sage because it is too cold.

tip: Even if the plants do not flower in winter, the silvery leaves of some varieties are a real eye-catcher. That's why they don't have to be hidden in winter, but can get a prominent place.

watering and fertilizing

Winter care of Salvia farinacea is easy. It is important that you water it regularly, but only moderately. It does not tolerate waterlogging in winter or summer. You should therefore make sure that no water remains in the coaster.

tip: For plants that have been dug up, as with plants in tub culture, you should lay a drainage layer of gravel and/or potsherds at the bottom of the planter. This allows excess irrigation water to drain off better.

Mealy Sage does not need fertilizer during the winter. So that the plant can get used to the winter break, you should stop fertilizing by the beginning of October at the latest. The first application of fertilizer after the winter takes place in the tub culture at the beginning of March. Plants that are planted out again in the garden bed after the winter have hibernated do not need fertilizer in the spring. In this case, it is quite sufficient if you improve the garden soil with compost in the spring before planting out.

To cut

In order for mealy sage to develop splendidly again next spring, you should cut it before moving to the winter quarters. To do this, proceed as follows:

  • Cut off all dried flower spikes
  • remove dried or yellow leaves
  • remove broken or kinked shoots

You should also check the plants for pest infestation. If an infestation is found, you should cut the plant generously and take other appropriate countermeasures. As a precaution, you should then isolate the sage in the winter quarters so that the pests do not spread to other plants.

outdoor season

Since Salvia farinacea does not tolerate frost at all, the outdoor season only begins when late night frosts can be ruled out. The rule of thumb here is: better late than early. In our latitudes this is usually from mid-May after the ice saints.


During the winter, two pests in particular like to nest in the flour sage. These are the whitefly and the red spider mite. A whitefly infestation usually occurs when the winter quarters are too warm. The red spider mite often occurs in closed rooms, so you should air the winter quarters regularly.

red spider mites

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