Growing Sage

Botanical Name: Salvia Officinalis

Sage is a fragrant herb with a long history that is native to the Mediterranean. It’s applications range from culinary to medicinal. Sage goes well with savoury dishes, stuffing, and teas, and it’s thought to have therapeutic properties such as cognitive and digestive benefits.

Are you interested in growing sage? If so, let’s get started.

  • Growing Sage
  • Growing Sage
Planting Guide Image

Sage Planting Guide

Method

Sow direct or raise seedlings

Sowing Depth

5 mm

Season

Spring or After Frost

Germination

7 – 21 days @ 18 – 21 °C

Hardiness / Life Cycle

Hardy Perennial

Row Spacing

60 – 90 cm

Plant Spacing

50 cm

Position

Full Sun

Days Until Maturity

80 – 90 Days

Storage

Use fresh in cooking. Freeze washed leaves in freezer bags. Dry and store in glass jars to use in teas and cooking.

When to Plant Sage in Australia

What growing
region am I in?
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Cool Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct Plantable in Nov
Temperate Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct Plantable in Nov Plantable in Dec
Sub-Tropical Plantable in Aug Plantable in Sep Plantable in Oct Plantable in Nov
Tropical Plantable in May Plantable in Jun Plantable in Jul
Arid Plantable in Jun Plantable in Jul
Cool Temperate Sub-Tropical Tropical Arid
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May Plantable in May
Jun Plantable in Jun Plantable in Jun
Jul Plantable in Jul Plantable in Jul
Aug Plantable in Aug
Sep Plantable in Sep Plantable in Sep Plantable in Sep
Oct Plantable in Oct Plantable in Oct Plantable in Oct
Nov Plantable in Nov Plantable in Nov Plantable in Nov
Dec Plantable in Dec
What growing
region am I in?

Introduction

Sage, with its distinct aroma and versatile uses, is a valuable addition to any Australian garden. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a novice, cultivating sage can be a rewarding and straightforward experience. This comprehensive guide provides all the necessary information to successfully grow robust sage plants in your Australian garden, ensuring a bountiful supply of fresh herbs for your culinary endeavours.

Sage Plant Uses

Sage, a versatile herb with a rich history, offers a wide range of culinary, medicinal, and practical uses. Some common applications of sage include:

  1. Culinary Uses: Sage is popularly used in cooking for its distinctive earthy flavour and aroma. It pairs well with various dishes, including meats, poultry, stuffing, sauces, and soups. Its robust flavour can add depth and complexity to a range of savoury dishes, making it a staple herb in many cuisines around the world.
  2. Medicinal Applications: Sage is known for its medicinal properties and has been traditionally used to treat various health issues. It contains compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help support oral health, alleviate sore throats, and aid in digestive issues. Sage tea is often used for its potential cognitive and memory-enhancing effects.
  3. Aromatherapy: Sage essential oil is used in aromatherapy for its therapeutic benefits. Its invigorating and grounding aroma is believed to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve mental clarity. Sage oil is often used in diffusers, massage oils, and topical applications for its calming and balancing effects.
  4. Natural Cleaning: Sage’s antimicrobial properties make it a valuable ingredient in natural cleaning products. It can be used to create homemade disinfectants, air fresheners, and surface cleaners, helping to eliminate bacteria and purify the air without the use of harsh chemicals.
  5. Herbal Remedies: Sage has been used in traditional herbal medicine for its potential health benefits. It is believed to have properties that can help alleviate menopausal symptoms, regulate blood sugar levels, and promote overall well-being. Sage extracts and infusions are often used in natural remedies for various ailments and health conditions.

 

By growing sage and incorporating it into your daily life, whether in cooking, aromatherapy, natural cleaning, or herbal remedies, you can enjoy its diverse benefits and contribute to a healthier and more holistic lifestyle. However, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional or a qualified herbalist before using sage for medicinal purposes, especially if you have specific health concerns or existing medical conditions.

Different Types of Sage Plants

There are several different types of sage plants, each with its own unique characteristics, appearances, and uses. Some of the most popular types of sage include:

Common Sage (Salvia officinalis): 

Also known as garden sage or culinary sage, common sage is a well-known herb in the culinary world. It features velvety, gray-green leaves and produces attractive purple or blue flowers. Common sage is widely used for its earthy, slightly peppery flavour, making it a staple in various dishes, particularly in Mediterranean cuisine.

Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans): 

Pineapple sage is prized for its vibrant red flowers and pineapple-scented leaves, which emit a sweet, fruity fragrance when rubbed or crushed. This variety is often used to infuse teas, beverages, and desserts with its unique pineapple flavour, adding a refreshing and aromatic twist to culinary creations.

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia): 

Despite its name, Russian sage is not a true sage but rather a member of the mint family. It is renowned for its silvery foliage and abundant lavender-blue flowers, which create a stunning and fragrant display in garden landscapes. Russian sage is valued for its ornamental appeal and its ability to attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, to the garden.

Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea):

Clary sage is recognised for its large, heart-shaped leaves and clusters of small, white to pale lilac flowers. It is cultivated for both its ornamental value and its essential oil, which is extracted from the plant and used in aromatherapy and herbal medicine. Clary sage essential oil is known for its calming and balancing properties, often used to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

Purple Sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’):

Purple sage, a cultivar of common sage, is characterised by its striking, purple-tinged foliage, which adds a pop of colour to herb gardens and landscapes. It retains the same culinary uses as common sage, offering a similar earthy flavour but with the added aesthetic appeal of its vibrant purple leaves.

 

These various types of sage plants each bring their own distinctive attributes and benefits, whether for culinary purposes, ornamental landscaping, or aromatherapy.

Understanding the differences between these sage varieties can help you select the most suitable options for your specific gardening or culinary needs.

Companion Plants for Growing Sage

Companion planting with sage can benefit the overall health and productivity of your garden by deterring pests and attracting beneficial insects. Consider these companion plants that work well alongside sage:

1. Rosemary: Sage and rosemary are compatible companions that complement each other’s growth and repel pests. Planting these herbs together can create a harmonious and aromatic herb garden while helping to deter pests such as carrot flies and cabbage moths.

2. Lavender: Lavender and sage share similar growth requirements and make excellent companion plants. Their fragrant blooms can attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, contributing to a thriving and vibrant garden ecosystem. Additionally, the combination of these aromatic herbs can create a visually appealing and fragrant garden bed.

3. Thyme: Thyme is another herb that pairs well with sage in companion planting. These two herbs, belonging to the same family, have complementary growth habits and can help repel pests such as cabbage loopers and carrot flies. Planting thyme alongside sage can create a fragrant and pest-resistant herb garden.

4. Cabbage: Sage can be an effective companion plant for cabbage, as it helps repel pests like cabbage moths and cabbage loopers. The aromatic properties of sage can create a natural barrier, contributing to the overall health and protection of the cabbage crop.

5. Carrots: Planting sage near carrots can help deter pests such as carrot flies, which can damage carrot crops. Sage’s aromatic presence can act as a natural deterrent, creating a more pest-resistant environment for the growth of healthy and thriving carrot plants.

Integrating these companion plants when growing sage can create a harmonious and pest-resistant garden environment, promoting the health and productivity of your crops. By strategically planning your garden bed with compatible companions, you can establish a balanced and thriving ecosystem that supports the growth and well-being of your plants.

Growing Sage from Cuttings

Growing sage from cuttings is a practical and effective way to propagate this aromatic herb. Follow these steps to successfully grow sage from cuttings:

1. Select Healthy Cuttings: Choose a healthy, mature sage plant for taking cuttings. Look for non-flowering stems that are free from any signs of disease or damage. Select cuttings that are approximately 10 to 15 centimetres long for optimal results.

2. Prepare the Cuttings: Use clean, sharp pruning shears to make a clean cut just below a leaf node. Remove any flowers or buds from the cutting to encourage energy to focus on root development. Strip the lower leaves, leaving only a few leaves at the top of the cutting.

3. Rooting Hormone (Optional): Dip the cut end of the sage cutting in rooting hormone to encourage faster root development. While not necessary, rooting hormone can expedite the rooting process and increase the success rate of propagation.

4. Plant the Cuttings: Insert the prepared sage cuttings into a pot filled with well-draining potting mix. Make a hole in the soil with a pencil or your finger and gently place the cutting into the hole. Press the soil firmly around the cutting to ensure it stays in place.

5. Provide Optimal Growing Conditions: Place the pot in a warm, well-lit area with indirect sunlight. Maintain a consistent temperature and humidity level to facilitate successful root development. Water the cuttings lightly to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.

6. Monitor Growth: Check the soil moisture regularly and ensure the cuttings remain adequately hydrated during the initial rooting phase. Provide occasional misting to maintain a humid environment around the cuttings and encourage root development.

7. Transplanting: Once the sage cuttings have developed a strong root system, carefully transplant them into their permanent growing location, whether in pots or directly in the garden. Continue to provide adequate sunlight, water, and proper care to support their ongoing growth and development.

By following these steps and providing the proper care, you can successfully propagate sage from cuttings, expanding your sage garden with healthy and thriving plants for culinary use and aesthetic appeal.

Growing Sage from Seeds

Growing sage from seeds is a rewarding and straightforward process. Follow these steps to successfully grow sage from seeds:

1. Seed Starting: Start sage seeds indoors in early spring, approximately 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost date in your area. Use seed-starting trays or small pots with a well-draining seed-starting mix.

2. Sowing Seeds: Sow the sage seeds on the surface of the soil and lightly press them down. Sage seeds require light to germinate, so avoid covering them with soil. Water the seeds gently to ensure the soil is moist but not waterlogged.

3. Ideal Growing Conditions: Place the seed trays or pots in a warm location that receives ample sunlight. Sage seeds typically germinate within 14 to 21 days when provided with consistent temperatures of around 18 to 21 degrees Celsius.

4. Transplanting: Once the sage seedlings have developed a few sets of true leaves, carefully transplant them into larger pots or directly into your garden. Space the seedlings at least 30 centimetres apart to provide sufficient room for healthy growth.

5. Provide Ample Sunlight: Ensure the sage seedlings receive at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily. If natural light is insufficient, consider using a grow light to supplement the sunlight and encourage healthy growth.

6. Watering and Maintenance: Water the sage seedlings regularly, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Avoid overwatering, as sage prefers well-draining soil. Apply a layer of mulch to help retain moisture and suppress weed growth.

7. Gradual Hardening Off: If you plan to transplant the sage seedlings outdoors, gradually expose them to outdoor conditions over a week or two to acclimate them to the new environment. Start with a few hours of outdoor exposure and gradually increase the duration each day.

By following these steps and providing the proper care, you can successfully grow sage from seeds, fostering a healthy and vibrant herb garden for culinary use and aesthetic appeal.

Growing Sage in Pots

Growing sage in pots is a practical and convenient option, especially for those with limited outdoor space or for gardeners who prefer to control the growing conditions. Follow these steps to successfully cultivate sage in pots:

1. Select the Right Pot: Choose a pot that is at least 30cm in diameter and has proper drainage holes at the bottom. Opt for a lightweight container that is suitable for outdoor use and can accommodate the sage plant’s root system.

2. Use Well-Draining Soil: Fill the pot with well-draining potting mix, ensuring it is specifically formulated for herbs. You can also add some sand or perlite to the soil to improve drainage and aeration, which is crucial for the healthy growth of sage.

3. Planting Sage: Plant sage seeds or young sage plants in the pot, ensuring they are positioned in the centre and surrounded by the potting mix. Plant the seeds or seedlings about 2 cm deep and water thoroughly after planting.

4. Provide Adequate Sunlight: Place the pot in an area that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily. If natural light is insufficient, consider using a grow light to supplement the sunlight and promote healthy growth.

5. Water Regularly: Sage prefers moderate watering, so ensure the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged. Check the soil regularly and water the sage when the top inch feels dry to the touch.

6. Fertilise Sparingly: Apply a balanced, water-soluble fertiliser sparingly, approximately once every two months during the growing season. Avoid over-fertilization, as it can lead to excessive foliage growth with diminished flavour.

7. Prune Regularly: Trim the sage regularly to encourage bushier growth and maintain its shape. Prune the stems just above a leaf node to promote new growth. Regular pruning also prevents the plant from becoming woody and promotes better overall health.

By following these steps and providing the proper care, you can successfully grow healthy and flavorful sage in pots, ensuring a fresh supply of this versatile herb for your culinary endeavours.

Pruning Sage

Pruning sage is essential for maintaining the plant’s shape, promoting new growth, and ensuring a bountiful harvest of fresh leaves. Here’s a step-by-step guide to effectively prune sage:

1. Timing: Prune sage in the early spring before new growth appears, or in the late spring after the first flush of growth. Avoid pruning sage during the winter, as this can make the plant more susceptible to cold damage.

2. Use Clean Tools: Use sharp, clean pruning shears or scissors to avoid damaging the plant. Disinfect the blades with rubbing alcohol before and after pruning to prevent the spread of any potential diseases.

3. Trimming Technique: Trim the stems just above a set of leaves or leaf node to encourage new growth. Make clean cuts at a slight angle to promote better healing and minimise the risk of disease. Focus on removing any dead, damaged, or woody stems to maintain the plant’s overall health.

4. Encourage Bushier Growth: Regularly prune the tips of the stems to encourage the sage to grow bushier and denser. This will result in a fuller, more robust plant with a greater yield of fresh leaves for culinary use.

5. Avoid Over-Pruning: While regular pruning is beneficial for sage, avoid over-pruning, as this can stress the plant and inhibit its growth. Maintain a balanced approach, focusing on removing only the necessary portions to maintain the plant’s shape and health.

6. Post-Pruning Care: After pruning, water the sage lightly to provide it with the necessary hydration. Ensure the plant receives adequate sunlight and appropriate growing conditions to support its recovery and encourage new growth.

By following these pruning guidelines, you can effectively maintain the shape and vigour of your sage plant, ensuring a steady and abundant supply of fresh leaves for culinary use and the overall aesthetic appeal of your garden.

Conclusion

In conclusion, growing sage can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience, whether in a garden, on a windowsill, or in pots. By following the comprehensive guidelines outlined in this article, you can cultivate thriving sage plants and enjoy the benefits of this versatile herb in your culinary endeavours and beyond.

Whether you choose to propagate sage from seeds, cuttings, or grow it in pots, sage’s resilience and aromatic properties make it a valuable addition to any herb garden. Embrace the joy of nurturing sage, and relish the satisfaction of incorporating its fresh, earthy flavours into your culinary creations.

With the proper care, attention, and understanding of its growth requirements, you can establish a flourishing sage garden that will provide you with a bountiful supply of this delightful herb for years to come.