Growing sage in pots from seeds and cuttings, in pots and in the ground at home is easy, indoors and outdoors, just follow these steps.
Sage has a very interesting history, as Greeks used it to treat snake bites, and Romans considered it a holy herb. It has a slightly bitter and spicy flavor, and it’s used in the kitchen, and as an efficient herbal medicine.
There are a few most common types of sage, that can be used in the garden, such as; garden sage, tri-color sage, purple sage, and golden sage. It mostly grows in Mediterranean areas and elsewhere in Europe.
Details for Growing Sage
Late spring from seed – spring to summer with cuttings
Harvest the second year – till late fall
Temperature to Plant
Soil 60-70 F (15.5-21 degrees celsius)
1/8 of the inch (0.3-0.4 cm)
24-30 inches/60-76 cm apart
Full exposure to the sun
North to south
Sandy and loamy soil, well-drained
5-8 pH but best is from 6-7
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Seven Steps to Growing Sage
You can grow sage from seeds or small plants. It can be a little challenging to grow sage from seeds, but it’s possible. It might take several years before it fully matures (if you use seeds).
Soil pH Testing
You need to make sure that you accurately test your soil to give your plants the best chance. This Apera kit has ±0.1 pH accuracy, see the star ratings over at Amazon.
You can buy a small plant and transplant it into a bigger container. If you have an already developed plant, you can always use cuttings for further reproduction. Cuttings need to be from 3-4 inches long.
Sage will grow nicely in well-drained and clay-rich soil. It grows best at pH from 6-7.You can mix your clay loam with regular soil and sand. That will make the soil lighter, and help the water to drain. To cultivate sage cuttings into bigger plants, only sand is required.
The best way to germinate your seeds so that they have a great start is with a germination kit. Seeds that are grown this way produce greater results. Check the specs of the MXIC over at Amazon.
Sage can be planted in the pots or the garden, whether you are planting seeds or plants When replanting sage from the pot into the garden, keep it on the same level above ground.
The seeds need to be planted late in spring, 24-30 inches apart, and less than half a cm under the soil. They need from 9-23 days for germination. If you use cuttings, cut 3-4 inch long branches. Strip the leaves from the bottom inch of the branch. Place the bottom inch in clean sand.
The roots should form in 1 month to 6 weeks. When roots are formed, you can replant them into a pot, and when they mature completely, to the garden.
Gently spray smaller sage plants, just to keep the soil moist, in the first few weeks of growth. As they grow bigger and more mature, you have to decrease watering, and only add water when the soil is dry.
If you are growing it in the garden, more likely, it will get all the necessary moisture from the rain, unless you are living in a very dry climate. If your soil is very dry, you can water it 1-2 times a week, but be careful not to overdo it, as it might cause the roots to rot and the plant will die. Sage doesn’t need much water to survive, and it’s quite tolerant of drought.
Sage needs a lot of sun for optimal growth but can also survive in hot areas with some shade. Not enough sun, will cause it to deteriorate. If you are growing sage indoors, it’s good to offer it a sunny spot on the window or the balcony.
Sage can experience a few different troubles, such as mildew and some pests. Mildew usually “attacks” in humid and hot weather. You can partially prevent it, with thinning and letting the plants “breathe”, increasing air circulation between them.
If mildew attacks your sage, you can use a sulfur spray. Most of the time, pests don’t attack sage, but sometimes it can get thrips, spider mites, aphids, slugs, and snails, etc. If you do notice any pests attacking your sage, try using organic pesticides, or manually removing them (slug and snails).
Make sure you clean the weeds around sage regularly, as they steal important nutrients. The most common reasons for the sage to deteriorate or die, are overwatering and the lack of sunlight.
Try not to harvest the sage excessively, in the first year of growth. After the first year, you can harvest it almost all year round. The best time to pick it is before blooming when it’s supposed to be the most potent and in the morning.
You can still pick sage, 2 months before harsh winter and frost (up to late fall), which will allow it to rest before winter and give it energy for next year. Sage will grow for many years and will get bigger and wider with time. If you want the full flavor and aroma, it’s best to use freshly picked sage.
Old Plant Cuttings
After 3-5 years the plants become woody, and it’s best if they are replaced. You can use the old plant for cuttings.
Before drying, remove any damaged or moldy leaves. To dry it, wash the branches with cold water, and dry them with a paper towel. Tie a few branches in a bunch and hang them (upside down). It has to be hung away from direct sun, in an airy and warm space. When dry, you can store the whole leaves (or crumbled) in a glass or plastic container.
One of the issues people have is that their crops produce all at once. The best way to overcome this is with a dehydrator so you can store your food for years and the flavor is amazing. The best one on the market is the Excalibur with a 10 year guarantee, see it at Amazon.
You can also freeze sage, washing it with cold water, drying it with a paper towel and freezing it, loosely in a container or a bag.