Sage ~ Salvia officinalis Plant Care Guide
Botanical name: Salvia officinalis
Plant type: Herb
USDA Hardiness Zones: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Sun exposure: Full Sun
Soil type: Sandy, Loamy
Sage is a hardy perennial with soft, grayish green leaves. Its flower colors vary; they can be purple, pink, blue, or white. Common sage is used most commonly for cooking; it’s a classic in stuffing.
- Sage can grow from seeds, but the best way to grow high-quality sage is from cuttings from an established plant.
- You can start the seeds/cuttings indoors 6 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost.
- Plant the seeds/cuttings in well-drained soil 1 to 2 weeks before the last spring frost.
- Plant the seeds/cuttings 24 to 30 inches apart. For best growth, the soil should be between 60º and 70ºF. Plants should grow to be between 12 and 30 inches in height.
- In the garden, plant near rosemary, cabbage, and carrots, but keep sage away from cucumbers.
- Be sure to water the young plants regularly until they are fully grown so that they don’t dry out.
- Prune the heavier, woody stems every spring.
- It’s best to replace the plants every 4 to 5 years to ensure the best quality.
- During the first year, harvest lightly to ensure that the plant grows fully.
- After the first year. be sure to leave a few stalks so that the plant can rejuvenate. If fully established, one plant can be harvested up to three times in one season.
- Sage’s flavor is best when fresh, but it can be stored frozen or dried. To dry, leave the branches in the sun; once dried, remove the leaves and store them in an airtight container.
- Tricolor sage, for a bit of color in the garden (yellow, mauve, and sage green)
Wit & Wisdom
Anyone who has sage planted in their garden is reputed to do well in business.
Named cultivars include:
- ‘Alba’, a white-flowered cultivar
- ‘Aurea’, golden sage
- ‘Berggarten’, a cultivar with large leaves, which rarely blooms, extending the useful life of the leaves
- ‘Extrakta’, has leaves with higher oil concentrations
- ‘Icterina’, a cultivar with yellow-green variegated leaves
- ‘Lavandulaefolia’, a small leaved cultivar
- ‘Purpurascens’ (‘Purpurea’), a purple-leafed cultivar
- ‘Tricolor’, a cultivar with white, yellow and green variegated leaves
‘Icterinaand ‘Purpurascens have gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit.