Sage is a valuable herb gaining in popularity. Used for everything from making homemade sausage to smoke cleaning your space sage has been used for generations both in and out of the kitchen. Sage is easy to grow making it a great option for new gardeners looking to add fragrant and useful plants to their gardens.
The best way to enjoy the freshest flavors in cooking is to grow and harvest your own sage. Both medicinal and culinary uses of sage make it an excellent addition to your herb garden. Sage is often more expensive than other common cooking herbs, so this is a smart way to save money if you use it often around your home.
Growing white sage is a great way to ensure the survival of this endangered herb. Those who like to use white sage smudge sticks for smoke cleansing in their homes will find that growing it is an excellent option. This is because it ensures that their sage is ethically sourced and harvested.
Sage is an excellent herb for butterfly and hummingbird gardens. The flowers of each variety are bright and beautiful. With its ability to blend in with both flower gardens and herb gardens, sage is the perfect addition to any garden.
Choosing a variety of sage to grow at home
Sage has many different varieties that offer different colored foliage, stronger or lighter fragrance, and a multitude of different possible uses.
The most common type of sage in gardens is garden sage. Garden Sage is the variety you are most likely to find at local nurseries or in seed packets in your local garden section. You can use simple garden sage to add flavor to your favorite savory dishes.
Purple sage makes a gorgeous addition to a colorful garden, adding a new unexpected pop of color. This sage is suitable for adding to your favorite garden beds.
Tri-color Sage is suitable for adding a variety of color to a large container that you are growing near an entertainment space in your backyard. The bright melody of color looks great with other bright herbs and flowers while the scent helps to repel insects.
Where to grow sage
Sage grows well in flower, vegetable, or herb gardens and can be combined with nearly anything. Sage doesn’t tolerate areas where water sits, so it needs well-draining soil. While most varieties of sage can survive in cool or tropical climates as annuals, in warm climates it can be grown as an evergreen with beautiful spring flowers. Sage performs best in a sunny location with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day.
Companion planting sage
Sage can be companion planted with nearly anything in the garden. The most suitable companions for sage include broccoli, cauliflower, rosemary, cabbage, and carrots. Sage is a suitable companion for these plants because it repels pests such as cabbage moths, beetles, black flea beetles, and carrot flies for the best possible crop.
While sage can grow with nearly any plant with the exception of well-known trouble makers like fennel there are a few plants you want to avoid planting your sage with. Sage should not be planted with cucumbers, onions, to rue as the strong scents and flavors can merge in an unpleasant manner.
How to plant sage
Sage can be grown from seed even by the most inexperienced gardener. To ensure your plants establish themselves early in the season, direct sow seeds or plant cuttings 1-2 weeks before the last spring frost. Warm the soil before planting with a large black trash bag or gardening cloth if it has not reached 60 to 70 degrees.
You can start sage from seed indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. This will help to give yoru plants an advantage compared to direct sowing them. You can also propagate your plants later in the year if you prefer a larger one. This is done with the layering technique like you would tomatoes.
Give your Sage plenty of space. It needed room for air flow to prevent mildew and other issues. In order to allow airflow as your plants grow, you should space them 18 to 24 inches apart. Sage can grow from 12 to 30 inches tall, so you will need to account for that when planning your planting layout.
You should plant your sage in well-draining soil with sufficient organic matter and rich compost before planting to ensure proper drainage and to feed your sage as it grows. To get the best flavor from herbs, you do not want to overfeed them, so starting with fertile soil is essential.
You will need to water young plants more often to help them establish. When a plant has grown strong, you can move to deeper watering to ensure the soil does not become too soggy and encourage deeper roots.
If you live in an area where sage can grow as a perennial, you should replace your plants every 3 to 4 years for the most flavor. Every spring, prune back woody stems, in the same manner as when you grow lavender plants, to encourage your sage to sprout new, tender shoots. Make sure several are large enough to encourage the plant to continue to grow year after year.
Protecting Sage plants
Sage is susceptible to several diseases, including rust, powdery mildew, and stem rot. You can protect your sage by ensuring that it is not waterlogged. To keep your sage plant healthy for years to come, always water at the roots and add fresh compost to the soil.
The sage plant is often affected by pests such as whiteflies, aphids, and spider mites. You can deal with these pests by inviting beneficial insects to your garden such as ladybugs and hummingbirds. Place a bug house in your garden to encourage ladybugs to eat pests. You can attract hummingbirds to your garden by adding a hummingbird feeder when your sage is not in bloom.
Harvesting and storing sage
Sage can be harvested in small amounts throughout the year as needed. You can add fresh leaves to savory soups and stews by gently pulling them from the stems. For annual sage you can do a full harvest before the plant blooms unless you intend to sve the seeds.
To give your perennial sage plenty of time to establish, plant only one or no large harvest in your first season. Sage plants can handle up to three large harvests for drying and storing after their first year.
There are many great ways to preserve fresh herbs. Sage should be dried hanging in a dark, cool place to preserve its quality. For extended storage and quick flavoring while cooking, Sage can be mixed with butter or infused with olive oil. When you have an abundance of sage, you may find that you can use it for a variety of amazing purposes.