Meadow sage – characteristics, cultivation and use

meadow sage
meadow sage

The meadow sage is one of the most beautiful plants of the roadsides and meadows. In sunny locations, it will delight us throughout the summer with its purple flowers that rise in candlelit grapes. In herbal medicine, the meadow sage is rarely used, because his brother, the common sage is significantly more effective. But if you do not have the powerful brother at hand, it is good to know that you can also use meadow sage.

Profile of meadow sage:

Scientific name: Salvia pratensis

Plant family: mint family

Other names: meadow clary

Sowing time / Planting time: March – July

Flowering period: May – August

Harvest time: May – August

Useful plant parts: leaves

Location: sunny

Soil quality: gritty to sandy, calcareous and low in nutrients

These information are for temperate climate!

Use as a medicinal herb: Wouneumatism

Use as aromatic herb: nternally

Plant characteristics and classification of meadow sage

Origin and occurrence of meadow sage

Meadow sage is a herbaceous flowering plant and is found today in Europe, in Asia Minor (rare), in the Caucasus and imported in North America. Its original home in Europe is the Mediterranean, meanwhile, the closed habitat in Europe extends to about 50 ° North latitude, further north there are mostly only isolated and volatile deposits up to central Sweden.

Plant order of meadow sage

The meadow sage (Salvia pratensis) is a wild shrub of the mint family (Lamiaceae). The genus sage is the most species-rich genus of the family – you will find around 800 different species worldwide.

Characteristics of the meadow sage


The summer-green perennial grows upright and is about 40 to 60 cm (16 to 24 in) high. The stem of the perennial, herbaceous plant is four-sided, soft and glandular hairy. Meadow sage shows as a loosely branched subshrub.


The leaves of the meadow sage are oval to heart-shaped and irregularly notched. They are up to 18 cm (7 in) long and are usually only slightly hairy. Most leaves are just above the ground in a rosette. While rubbing they exude an aromatic scent. In naturopathy, they are mainly used for cough and fever.


The flowering season lasts from May to August. On the stem there are terminal, sticky whorls of loosely distributed, 1.5 cm (0.6 in) large lip flowers. The flowers appear in blue-violet, pink or white colors. The corolla is crescent-shaped.

The pollination is done mainly by bumblebees. The flowers of the meadow sage carry movable lever-like stamens, which close the entrance to the flower tube. As soon as the bumblebee puts its proboscis in the flower, it operates the lever arm. The other end of the lever of the stamen sinks on the back of the animal and the pollen is stripped off the hairy body of the bumblebee. This lever mechanism is also referred to as a toll bar mechanism. Then the pollen is carried on by the bumblebee to the next flower. In addition to insect pollination, self-pollination is also very important.


During the fruit ripening from July to August, split-fruit develop, which disintegrate into four so-called schizocarps.

meadow sage flowers
meadow sage flowers

Meadow sage – cultivation and care


Choose a moderately moist to dry location for the meadow sage. Since the roots of Salvia pratensis reach well over a meter (3 ft) into the ground, the water supply is ensured even when the soil is dry. For optimum growth, the plant should be in full sun. In nature, meadow sage comes along paths and fields and – as the name suggests – on meadows.


The perfect soil for the meadow sage is calcareous and nutrient-poor. Make sure that the soil is not acidic.


The sowing in the field is from March to July, the planting season from March to April. The shrub fits very well in a close-to-nature garden or on a flower meadow. Combine the plant with daisies, bluebells or white yarrow. Plant four to six plants per square meter (3 x 3 ft) at a distance of approximately 40 cm (16 in). Salvia pratensis is also suitable for pot culture on the balcony and terrace.


One of the many advantages of meadow sage is its modest undemandingness. It does not need much to provide the plant with adequate water and nutrient balance:

  • In case of dryness pour after a thumb test
  • Water regularly as container plant, whereby the soil surface should dry up


In the spring, give a start fertilization with compost or manure. In the planter, administer an organic liquid fertilizer. During the growing season, the administration of fertilizer continues in three to four week intervals. The nutrient supply ends at the beginning of August, so that meadow sage can prepare for the coming winter.


Meadow sage is very easy to care for and usually short-lived. If the plants are cut back after flowering, they shoot again and flower again. Immediately after flowering, a cutback by half is recommended to support growth for the next season. In early spring, cut the meadow sage to just above the ground. If the plant is already more heavily lignified, the pruning ends at the top of the lignification.


By cuttings

During the summer is the best time to propagate meadow sage by cuttings. Choose a well-established and, above all, healthy plant. Here’s how to do it:

  • Cut one or more shoots with a length of 15-20 centimeters (6 to 8 in)
  • Fill small pots with herb soil, which is mixed with a few sand
  • Defoliate the lower half of the cuttings, halve the leaves of the upper half
  • Insert into the substrate, water and place in a warm, partially shaded place

During the following days and weeks keep the potting soil constantly moist without causing waterlogging. The rooting is complete when the cuttings expel again. The process is forced when each pot gets a small plastic bonnet that is aired regularly.


Meadow sage produces an aromatic harvest of rich leaves almost all year round. For use as a spice preferably the shoot tips come into question. Older leaves are too bitter in taste. Harvesting is always done with the stems, whereby a cut to the wood is to be avoided. Its optimum develops meadow sage in the second year just before flowering. This appointment is of particular interest for gardeners who want to storage dried leaves.

Diseases and pests

In most cases, the essential scent of Salvia pratensis keeps pests away. Rarely, there is an infection with spider mites or aphids. Excessive watering can lead to root rot and mildew infestation – especially if the planting distance in the bed is too close.


At a young age or in explicitly rough locations, a winter shelter for meadow sage is recommended. In the bed, cover the plants with fir sprigs, brushwood or straw. In the bucket especially the root ball is threatened by frosty temperatures. To prevent it from freezing, place the planter on insulating wood and wrap it with fleece or foil. The substrate is protected by a layer of foliage or pine needles. If there is no snow in winter while it is freezing at the same time, water the meadow sage on a frost-free day.

meadow sage with purple flowers
meadow sage with purple flowers

Use of the meadow sage

Meadow sage in the kitchen

Meadow sage as a medicinal herb

Meadow sage can be used in a similar way as its cultivated brother, the common sage.

However, it is less rich and therefore in case of doubt the common sage is preferable.

Traditionally, the bacterial, anti-inflammatory and astringent effect of the sage is known. In case of inflammation of the mouth and throat, commercially available aqueous or alcoholic extracts are used for gargling. Sage tea can also be used to gargle or be drunk. It is said to have an antiperspirant effect. The ingredients of sage should also promote secretion and support the function of the nervous system.

The leaves of meadow sage can be consumed as tea against diseases of the respiratory tract and the digestive system. Also, menstrual problems can be alleviated. In the menopause, the sage helps especially against excessive sweating and hot flashes, but also other complaints can be alleviated, because the sage contains estrogen-like substances. You can gargle with greens sage tea for gingivitis.

Externally, you can use meadow sage tea for washes, baths and envelopes. It can be used against various skin diseases, including eczema.

Preparation of a meadow sage tea

  • put about 5 fresh leaves in a cup
  • if you do not have fresh leaves, also dried sage leaves will do
  • spill with hot water. about 250 ml (1 cup)
  • let steep (covered) for about 15 min.
  • do not drink more than four to five cups of this tea throughout the day
  • drink the tea always freshly brewed and as hot as possible

Meadow sage can be used for these ailments and diseases

  • bloating
  • cold
  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • eczema
  • fever
  • gingivitis
  • hot flashes
  • indigestion
  • insect bites
  • menopausal symptoms
  • menstrual cramps
  • nervous debility
  • night sweats
  • skin diseases
  • sore throat
  • sweaty feet

Medicinal properties

  • antibacterial
  • astringent

Side effects

Sage is one of the plant species that should not be taken for a long time in high dose. When breastfeeding you should not take any sage tea or other products, otherwise the milk flow can dry up, unless you want to breastfeed.


Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.

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