Sage (Salvia officinalis) is a perennial plant that is hardy and has an aromatic and slightly bitter taste. The plant has a high reputation throughout the Middle Ages, and is referred many times due to its healing properties and value. It was sometimes called Salvia salvatrix (sage the savior) because it was one of the main ingredients of “ Four Thieves Vinegar”, a blend of herbs which was supposed to ward off the plague.Though it is easy to grow sage, it has three major requirements – plenty of sunshine, good drainage and good air circulation. Sage can grow well in a variety of climates, and it can survive in temperatures as low as 0° Fahrenheit. It gives a pleasant look to your garden and blooms pretty purple, pink, blue or white flowers in summer. When harvested and dried, it can be used as a stuffing for poultry, rabbit, pork, and baked fish.It can also be used in sausages or meat loaves.

Planting Sage Cuttings or Seeds

Sage can prove challenging when planted by seed, but it is very easy to grow from :

  • Cuttings 
  • Layering

Propagate Sage from Cuttings

You can clip a 3″ long cutting from the very tip of a stem. Then apply the rooting hormone of the exposed portion of the stem, and plant it in either sterile sand or vermiculite. Its roots will emerge within six weeks from planting. Now transfer it to a small pot. It is ready to be transferred to a large clay pot or directly to your garden.

Propagate by Layering

In this method you can take a long sage stem and carefully secure it along the soil with a wire, leaving around 4″ of the tip, free. You only need to make sure that the pinned portion is directly in contact with soil. Roots will start to come in about a month. Cut away the newly rooted plant from the main plant and transfer it elsewhere within the garden or to a large clay pot.

Planting Location to Grow Sage

Sage is a drought resistant herb and it grows well in rich clay loam that drains well and is rich in nitrogen. The soil with a pH of 6.0-6.5 will definitely work well for this herb.But if you’re using clay soil then try to mix in some sand and organic matter. This will lighten the soil and help with better drainage.Sage grows best when it is planted with other perennial herbs, such as thyme, oregano, marjoram and parsley.

Planting Time to Grow Sage

Plant sage in the spring season when the ground temperature is about 65°F and prune it back by 1/3 of its growth in midsummer after it flowers. In late fall you can cover the surrounding soil with a layer of mulch, such as wood chips or dry leaves. Then again prune the plant to shape it in spring, to remove the dead or untidy parts.

Grow Sage in Pots

You can also plant your  Sage in a pot which can be made of clay, plastic, stone, or concrete.The pot should have drainage holes in the bottom regardless of the material being used. Soak the pot in a solution made from water and a mild cleanser. Be careful that the soil is not tightly packed.

Spacing to Grow Sage

Sage grows in a round, bush-like fashion.Its individual plants should be spaced 24″ to 36″ apart. If you decide to plant sage seeds, they should be planted about 1/8 inch deep and 24 to 30 inches apart. They will take 10 to 21 days to germinate.

How to Take Care of Sage?

Sage will grow almost anywhere, but it provides the tastiest leaf when it receives a lot of sunlight. Since it prefers well-drained soil, sage is a perfect candidate for container gardening. 

Watering

You should mist sage plants with water to keep its soil moist when the Sage plants are small.But when they attain certain height and reach maturity, you should only water sage when the soil surrounding the plant is dry to touch.In fact, in some climates you won’t need to water your sage at all – they’ll get all the moisture they need from rainfall. Though Sage is a little plant,it is very drought-tolerant.

Trimming to Grow Sage

You can prune your older, woodier stems in early spring season, after the frost is gone but before new growth has really begun. Prune each stem by about one-third of the total height of your plant

Preventing Mildew

Mildew is one of the only problem, you have to deal with while growing sage. But you can avoid it by watching the plants carefully during hot, humid weather and by thinning the plants regularly to increase air circulation.You can also try mulching the earth around the plant with pebbles, as this helps moisture to evaporate more quickly.Even after taking all these precautions, if mildew does develop on you plant, try spritzing it with a horticultural oil or sulfur spray.

Removing Weeds

  • Weeds are unwanted plants which start to compete with young sage plants for soil’s nutrients and slows down the development of young plants.
  • You can control the weeds around seedlings either through weeding or mulching (limestone gravel, builder’s sand, leaf mold or straw).
  • They also block the much needed sunlight and soak up the extra  water, so you have to be careful and target the weeds when young as at that time they are easier to remove.
  • You should grasp the weed firmly with steady pressure and try to pull up as much of the roots as possible.A spade or rooting tool can be used as well.
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Watch out for Pests

Sage usually does not attract pests, but sometimes it will be affected by spider mites, thrips, and Spittle bugs. If you notice any pests around your sage try using an organic pesticide (like pyrethrum) or an insecticidal soap to keep them under control.

How to Harvest Your Sage ?

Sage can be harvested on an as and when needed, basis.You just have to clip above the spot where the two leaves meet. For a rich concentration of their aromatic oils, harvest sage leaves in the morning, once its dew has dried.

Gathering

You can pick off leaves as and when,you need them.Sage is considered to be at its best just before the flowers bloom, usually in mid-summer.Do your last harvest approximately two months before the first major frost of the year. This gives any newly formed foliage enough time to mature before winter sets in.

Covering the Bundles

You need to cover your sage bundles to prevent dust from accumulating on it as dust particles dry the plant.It will also keep the sun from bleaching off the colour from your plant. Paper bags will work best for your sage bundles , you will have to cut holes in these bags for air circulation.

Hanging your Herb

Sage is one of the few herbs that develops a stronger flavor when dried. However, it needs to be dried quickly to avoid developing a musty taste.To dry sage, tie a bunch of sprigs together and hang them upside down in a warm, well-ventilated location away from direct sunlight.

[ READ MORE : Salvia Officinalis

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