How To Grow Sage: Your Complete Guide

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Considering adding some sage to your garden but need help figuring out where to start? Sage has a number of uses and is a welcome companion to many different types of plants. This article will examine the steps you will need to take to successfully plant, grow, and harvest sage in your garden.

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Classification and Botanical History

Sage is a culinary herb, a medicinal herb, and an ornamental plant. Salvia officinalis derives its botanical name from the Latin word salvare, meaning “to cure” or “to save,” a nod to its health-promoting effects.

Sage has a long culinary and medicinal history. French sage tea was once abundant. Chinese tea was exchanged for French sage tea. Sage was one of the plants that Charlemagne ordered to be planted on the German imperial farms in AD 812. C., probably for its medicinal and commercial value.

Sage was part of the official Roman pharmacopoeia for its healing properties, especially for digesting fatty meats. The Chinese used sage to treat colds, joint pain, typhoid fever, and kidney and liver problems.

Sage comes in many different types, and not all of them can be eaten. You can choose one of the following sage plants for your herb garden:

  • purple sage
  • garden sage
  • golden sage
  • tricolor sage
purple sage
Purple sage is one of the varieties of sage that you can plant for your herb garden.

© Quentin

Growing Requirements for Sage

There are numerous conditions for the effective cultivation of sage, including the following:

Temperature and Humidity Requirements

The sages are a bit more resistant. Temperatures in the 60s to 70s Fahrenheit are ideal for developing sage plants, although mature sage plants can withstand short periods of cold. Sage likes a moderate moisture level.

precipitation requirements

Sage requires moderate water requirements and some tolerance to drought. Keep the soil evenly moist for young sage plants, but don’t let it get soggy or overly wet. When the top 1 to 2 inches of soil on your growing sage plants is dry, water them. Don’t get the leaves wet when you water because that can lead to mold.

irrigation requirements

You will need to water with sage once or twice a week for the first few weeks. Keep the soil about as moist as a wrung out sponge. After the sage plant has established a strong root system, you can reduce watering to once or twice a week. Be careful not to overwater!

Soil composition and pH

Sage requires a sandy, loamy soil that drains well. For best growth, keep the pH between 6.0 and 7.0. If you’re farming for culinary reasons, keep your appetite strong; you will grow faster but you will lose taste intensity.

Note: Add organic matter and sand to improve drainage when planting in clay soil.

sunlight requirements

Sage requires full sun to grow or at least six hours of direct sun a day for the best flavor. But, if you live in Zone 8 or higher, your sage would benefit from some midday shade, especially when it’s hot.

However, excessive shading can cause the sage to etiolate and produce fewer leaves, so be careful. Bright sunlight also helps increase oil production.

fertilizer requirements

Sage plants do not eat much; feeding them too much fertilizer can make the flavor go away. In spring, apply an organic fertilizer to the plants or add compost to the soil.

However, fertilizer application is influenced by soil type and fertility. So in this case you can apply 1350kg/ha of triple superphosphate (TSP) fertilizer before planting your sage and after harvest apply nitrogen for side dressing.

Nitrogen encourages leaf growth and changes the color of crops, but don’t use too much. Overuse increases costs and pollutes waterways. Most herb crops are classified as leafy vegetables, and NPK fertilization rates range from 1,200 to 1,500 kg/ha.

After each harvest, add 70 kg/ha of ammonium nitrate to the soil as a top dressing. If the pH is less than 5, you must use agricultural lime before planting seeds.

sage plant
Feeding too much fertilizer to sage can cause the flavor to fade.


how to plant sage

The success of your sage plants depends on where you plant them, whether you bought them or planted them indoors. Plant sage when soil temperatures reach 65°F, about 1 to 2 weeks before the last frost of the year.

If you choose to grow your sage from seed, keep in mind that it will most likely take several years to mature. If starting from seed, start 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost under a plant light.

After three weeks, you can transfer the sage seedlings to the prepared soil. You can also propagate new plants by layering or taking other cuttings.

Here are some guidelines to follow for when it’s time to plant.

How to grow sage

You can start growing sage in a number of ways. If you’ve never grown sage before, you can start with fresh sage seeds (which can be tricky) or buy a small plant from a garden store and transplant it into your garden or into a terracotta pot. If you have an established sage plant, you can grow a new one using cuttings or layering procedures.

Step 1 – Prepare the soil

Sage requires a rich clay loam soil that drains well, is high in nitrogen for optimal growth, and a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Try to incorporate sand and organic matter if you are working with clay soil. This helps with drainage and lightens the soil. Sage thrives with other perennial herbs such as thyme, oregano, marjoram, and parsley.

Step 2 – Plant the Sage

After preparing the soil, you can plant the sage in containers/pots or in the ground. You have the option of planting sage plants or seeds.

If you are transplanting a sage plant into the ground, be sure to plant it at the same level as it was in the pot. If you plant seeds, do so in late spring (in a bed or container), 1/8-inch thick and spaced 24 to 30 inches apart. They will take 10 to 21 days to germinate.

Step 3 – Water Gently

  • To keep the soil moist, mist the sage plants with water while they are young.
  • But, once mature, only water the sage when the soil around the plant is dry.
  • In fact, in certain regions, you won’t need to water your sage at all, as the rain will provide all the moisture they need.
  • Sage is a hardy little shrub that tolerates drought well.
sage seedlings
A great way to start growing sage is to purchase a small plant from a garden store and transplant it into your garden.


Step 4: Provide Adequate Sunlight

Sage plants thrive in full sun, but can also thrive in partial shade in hot climates. Sage will get leggy and droop if exposed to too much shade.

If you keep your sage plant indoors and it doesn’t get much sunlight, you can replace it with fluorescent lights. Fluorescent lights should be placed 2 to 4 inches above the plants.

However, compact fluorescent, high-output fluorescent, or high-intensity discharge (high-pressure sodium or metal halide) Sage plant grow lights work best and should be placed 2-4 feet from the plants.

Step 5 – Prune Sage in Early Spring

Prune back the older, woodier stems in early spring, after the threat of frost has passed, but before new growth has actually started. It is recommended that approximately one third should be pruned from each stem.

Step 6: Prevent mold

Mold is one of the few problems that sage farmers face. You can prevent this by closely monitoring the plants during hot, humid weather and thinning them regularly to encourage air circulation.

You can also try covering the soil around the plant with stones, which would help moisture drain faster. If mold appears on your plant, spray it with sulfur spray or horticultural oil.

Step 7: Pest Control

Sage is not normally a target for pests, although it can be attacked by mites, thrips, and spittlebugs. If you spot any pests, use an organic insecticide (such as pyrethrum) or insecticidal soap to keep them at bay.

Step 8: Replace the sage plant every three to five years

After three to five years, the sage plant will grow woody and messy and will need to be replaced. You can start over with a fresh plant or seed or use the old plant for cuttings or layering. Bend an existing sage sprig into the ground to form a plant cloak.

Secure the branch to the ground 4 inches from the tip with wire. After about four weeks, the roots will begin to develop. Then, remove the branch and transfer the newly created sage plant to another location.

To use cuttings, remove the top 3 inches of a branch from an existing sage plant. Remove the lower leaves from the stem with a pair of scissors.

Soak the ends with rooting hormone before placing them in sterile sand. Allow 4-6 weeks for roots to grow before moving to a container and eventually the garden. As soon as new growth appears, plant cuttings should be taken in early spring.

sage harvest

During the first year, harvest sage sparingly, removing leaves as necessary. You can collect sage year-round in subsequent years by cutting entire stems from the plant.

Salvia is said to be at its best just before the flowers open, usually in the height of summer. Do your last full harvest two months before the first major frost of the year. This allows the newly developed leaves to grow before winter arrives.

Dry the sage:

Sage is one of the few herbs that becomes more flavorful when dried. However, it must dry quickly to avoid a musty taste.

Tie a handful of twigs together and hang upside down in a warm, well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight to dry. After the leaves are dry, place them (shredded or whole) in an airtight container.

Sage becomes tastier when dried.
Sage is one of the few herbs that becomes more flavorful when dried.


Conclusion: how to grow sage

Sage is a year-round crop with multiple harvests. Growing sage from cuttings or seeds over the winter and planting them in the spring can help the plants become established. There’s no reason not to add sage to your garden now that you know how to grow it. Sage is a perennial herb that will delight your taste buds for many years after you grow it in your herb garden.

Until next time: