In recent years, clary sage is usually considered more as an ornamental plant that grows and blooms very well in the southern regions and poorly in the Non-Chernozem zone. Let's try to figure out what the problem is when growing it.
The homeland of the plant is the Mediterranean. In a feral form, it grows in the Crimea, the Caucasus and in some regions of Central Asia. Clary sage is cultivated in France, Italy, Bulgaria and other countries. In our country, unfortunately, this culture has come to naught.
Salvia nutmeg, or clary sage (Salviasclarea L.) is a herbaceous plant of the lamipine family (Lamiaceae), having a rod, branched, penetrating into the soil to a depth of 2 m, root. The stem is tetrahedral, paniculate-branched above, 1-2 cm thick. The leaves are petiolate, large, ovate, double-toothed, pubescent. Towards the top of the stem, they decrease, turning into petiolate, sessile. The flowers are bisexual, large, pinkish-purple, light blue, rarely white. They are arranged in whorls in long (50-60 cm) branching inflorescences. Seeds are small (up to 2.5 mm long), rounded, dark brown. The mass of 1000 seeds is 3.5-5 g.
Species name "sclarea» comes from Latin clarus - clean. Its infusions were used as fragrant water for ablutions. Later in central Europe it was added for aromatization in wines.
It is very peculiar in terms of life expectancy. In the offspring of the same plant, biennials can be found, of which, as a rule, the majority, annuals and relatively few perennials. The farther north this plant is grown, the greater the stake should be placed on annuals.
Annual forms of sage bloom in the first year of the growing season and after that, in winter, they usually die. Biennial forms in the first year of growing season form only a basal rosette, and give inflorescences and a seed yield only in the second year of life. Perennial forms are less common and differ in that they yield crops both in the first and in subsequent years of the growing season. There are intermediate forms between them.
If in winter there are no critical subzero temperatures, biennial forms of sage do not die, but bear fruit in the third and even in the fourth year of life. So, the varieties of the Soviet selection B-24, S-785, S-24, S-28 were initially considered as biennial, but in Bulgaria they bear fruit for three to four years.
Clary sage is relatively undemanding to soils, but for abundant flowering and the formation of powerful fragrant peduncles, both nutritious soils and sufficient watering are needed. It is considered a drought-resistant plant, but it still grows and develops better with good moisture supply. It is undemanding to soils. On rich soils, the mass of inflorescences is greater, but on poor and dry soils with a low yield, the aroma of oil is better due to the higher content of the most important component - linalyl acetate.
In addition, clary sage has a few other tricks to consider when growing it. After clary sage, core and root residues remain, which, due to the peculiarities of the chemical composition (high lignin content), have a long decomposition period (about 2 years), and the products of their decomposition have a toxic effect on sage seedlings upon repeated subsequent sowing after 1-4 of the year.
If sage seedlings are watered with a water extract from the arable soil layer, where sage is cultivated for several years in a row in monoculture, then they first slow down growth, and then completely die. Boiling does not reduce the toxicity of the extract. This confirms the idea that the death of seedlings does not occur under the influence of any infectious principle (microorganisms), but under the influence of decomposition products of sage plant residues and root secretions of sage.In addition, the soil absorbs a certain amount of sage essential oil, which also inhibits the growth of sage seedlings and many other plants. The phytotoxic properties of stubble and root residues of sage are due to mobile phenol carboxylic acids that accumulate in the soil as a result of their decomposition.
Clary sage is of interest for pests and diseases, especially in the southern regions. He has a common disease with sunflower - white rot or sclerotinosis. The disease leads to partial (or complete) death of plants at the beginning of the second year of the growing season. Therefore, it is better to spatially separate these crops in the garden and not sow after each other.
It is affected by powdery mildew, leaf spot, root hollowness and is damaged by spider mites, sage scoop, sage weevil, darkling beetles, false wireworms.
It is a relatively thermophilic plant. Seed germination begins at a temperature of + 8 + 10 ° С, however, the optimal conditions should be considered at + 25 + 28 ° С. Therefore, if you have few seeds, then it is better to sow it in peat pots and transfer it to the street at 40-50 days of age. And the probability that some of the plants will bloom is higher, and the consumption of seeds is not so great.
In the phase of 10-12 pairs of leaves, sage rosettes withstand frosts down to -28-30 ° C. Frost resistance largely depends on the physiological maturity of plants that have gone into winter. He does not like the alternation of thaws with severe frosts, this significantly reduces winter hardiness. Intensive growth of the aboveground mass and reproductive organs takes place better at an average daily temperature of + 19 + 21 ° C, but oil accumulates in the heat. The hotter the summer, the more fragrant the plants are. And, of course, the lightest and sunniest places are needed for active lush flowering. Even if you did not have enough time to weed it on time and it ended up in the first month and a half of its life among the weeds, this will affect flowering. You also need to take care that the seedlings are not too thick - this also adversely affects its appearance - the peduncles are elongated and rather weak.
On highly fertile soils, the optimal density should be considered 25-28 plants per 1 m2, and on poor low-humus soils - 15-20. Density of planting significantly affects the development of clary sage inflorescences. In dense crops (40 pcs / m2 or more), simple capitate inflorescences are formed in the upper part of the stem. They are distinguished by low branching, therefore they quickly fade and lose their essential oil content. Actually, there will be nothing to clean up. With a rare standing (7-8 plants per 1 m2), sage bushes strongly, lateral shoots lodge, which also does not add decorative effect.
Before sowing, the site must be thoroughly and deeply dug up, compost must be added at the rate of 1-2 buckets per m2 (the poorer the soil, the more), add superphosphate and ammonium nitrate at 20-30 g / m2 and top up the fertilizer with a hoe or shallow digging. If the soils are acidic, then dolomite flour must be added. This is more important for the Non-Chernozem zone.
Sowing time is determined by the place of cultivation. In the Krasnodar Territory, for example, the best result is given by podzimny sowing in late October - early November. Seedlings appear in spring. In our conditions, they are sown in early spring. They sow to a depth of 3-4 cm with row spacings 70 cm wide. Or they plant seedlings according to the scheme 25x40-60 cm. Before sowing, do not try to soak the seeds in various stimulants. They lick and then sow these slippery balls there is no way. If you really want to "stimulate", then having sowed and not yet covered with soil, water the groove with a stimulator, and only then sprinkle it.
After the emergence of seedlings, they are thinned, if necessary. Care includes weeding and loosening, and, if necessary, disease control, but they rarely pester on their backyard plots.In dry summers, you need to water the plants several times per season.
Sage of the second year of life is harvested for seeds when they ripen in the lower and middle parts of the central inflorescence. It is more problematic to collect seeds from plants of the first year of life, since they bloom quite late and seeds are formed in unfavorable conditions in September, when heavy rainfall causes them to get wet and mucous right in the inflorescence.
About the properties of clary sage - in the article Clary sage: medicinal properties and uses.