Buy the 2015 Old Farmer's Almanac!

Sage

PrintPrintEmailEmail
Your rating: None Average: 4.4 of 5 (26 votes)

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.

Planting

  • 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.

Care

  • 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.

Pests

Harvest/Storage

  • 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.

Recommended Varieties

  • Tricolor sage, for a bit of color in the garden (yellow, mauve, and sage green)

Recipes

Wit & Wisdom

Anyone who has sage planted in their garden is reputed to do well in business.

Comments

I live in a flat, on 12th

By Lalo

I live in a flat, on 12th floor and have a balcony. I would like to grow sage, but it gets very windy. Would you know if a sage plant will tolerate these conditions.

Thanks

On a windy balcony, your best

By Almanac Staff

On a windy balcony, your best bet is probably short, shrubby plants. Sage would fit into this category. Rosemary, mint, and lavendar might work well, too.

I just received a year old

By marilyn moskwik

I just received a year old sage plant (Oct. 7th) that was in a pot with other herbs. I'm in zone 5 and don't know whether I can safely transplant to the garden as the plants are crowded and lanky. Can I leave in the garage over the winter or do they have to be inside with light. I have a cat and I'm afraid of it chewing. Thanks for your response. Unsure

Sage is winter hardy and will

By Almanac Staff

Sage is winter hardy and will survive outdoors in zone 5. You can plant it in the garden and add some mulch around the stems if you like. Sage is evergreen so you may be able to harvest leaves during the winter months. If the leaves die back it will shoot up new growth from the roots in the spring.

I have three cats and none of

By Erogers

I have three cats and none of them mess with mine. However the cat hair sticks to the leaves.

My sage isn't even a year

By Lennox

My sage isn't even a year old. I bought it this summer. I was curious about its woody stems at the bottom. Is it common for the stems to get woidy/hardwood early? It's a very healthy plant. Also I was wanting some different sage to grow any suggestions?

Hi, Lennox: It's perfectly

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Lennox: It's perfectly natural for your sage to develop woody stems, although you will want to keep them cut back to just above any growth buds. Depending on where you live, you might try a multicolor sage as mentioned above. Good luck!

my new sage plant did really

By Dale Allen

my new sage plant did really well, we had a frost (in the 20s ) last night I had it covered but something knocked the cover off, can I still use it this year can it be saved

Your sage will be fine. In

By Cheryl Bicknell

Your sage will be fine. In the spring, you will need to cut back any dead pieces. You may need to reshape it. I've moved and reshaped several over time. Even if they are cut back within a hair of their life in the very early spring, they always come back and seem to like the hair cut!

My sage plant has started

By twstamper56

My sage plant has started showing signs of small red dots on the leaves as of late, and I am not sure if I am dealing with a fungus that needs sprayed or possibibly a disease. I would appreciate any advice on this matter. I am located in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Thank you. TW

Red blisters on the

By Almanac Staff

Red blisters on the undersides of leaves (sometimes yellow or white corresponding spots appear on upper side of leaves) can mean rust fungus. In this case, remove the infected leaves and avoid getting the leaves wet. Provide good air circulation. 
 
Small reddish brown dots on the tops of leaves might mean other fungal diseases, such as alternaria leaf spot, or perhaps insect feeding injury. For best advice, we'd recommend that you take a sample to a horticulturist in a nearby garden center, or to your county's Cooperative Extension. For contact information, see:
 
http://www.almanac.com/content/cooperative-extension-services

I live in MA and bought 2

By Marilyn Weber

I live in MA and bought 2 varieties of small pots of sage in late July this year. Is it too late to plant them now in late August? Should I keep them indoors for the winter and then plant in the summer?

I tend to transplant as many

By Cheryl Bicknell

I tend to transplant as many perennials as I can in the fall. If you plant them in August, you will just need to make sure they have enough water. My rule of thumb is to gage timing of transplanting based on the average time of first frost and when the soil in that area freezes. The microsystems in the yard are important. Transplanting a month before average frost allows the plant to get started on establishing. This can be extended if it's in a warmer area of the yard.

It's better to transplant

By georgewilson

It's better to transplant sage in the early spring.

My sage is about two years

By Kim C

My sage is about two years old now. It is woody and lanky, but there are still quite a few leaves on it and a lot of new growth. The problem is is that the leaves continue to turn blue/black or yellow. It loses a lot of leaves because of this. I live in North Carolina and the plant is in a smart pot with a mixture of coco husks and perlite. My garden is a hydroponic garden. I have tried leaving it in full sun, bringing it to a shady area, watering it more, letting it dry out for a few days before watering.... I feel like I have tried everything but it is still losing leaves. I am new to gardening so I never pruned it drastically...I didn't know if I needed to do that. Is there anything I am missing, or something I can do to save this plant? I love Sage and love cocking with it so would hate to lose it. I also tried to take a cutting of it to grow another plant, but it failed, I tried to grow the cutting in water as well as the coco/perlite mixture but neither method worked.

How can I save this plant? How can I grow a cutting of it as well? What exactly do I cut off the plant and where is the best place to cut for the cutting too?

Thanx u all for your help!!!

Sage needs about 12 hours of

By Almanac Staff

Sage needs about 12 hours of light, so if you don't have that, provide full-spectrum artificial lighting to compensate. If you do have a light, it could be that it is too close, causing leaves to blacken--try raising it a bit.
 
Check the air temperature and make sure the room isn't too hot or cool (day about 75-80, night about 60-80).
 
Yellow leaves are often due to a nutrient deficiency. Check that the pH is appropriate for sage (about 5.5 to 6.5) and adjust as necessary, so the roots are getting enough nutrients from the medium.
 
Sage plants are usually replaced after about 4 to 5 years, when they become too woody. Meanwhile, you can prune it back in spring, by removing 1/3 of the top growth. During early to mid summer, prune lightly back, just above a leaf or bud, or just above where a stem branches. Make your cuts at an angle. Remove any dead or diseased branches.
 
To take a cutting, choose a healthy stem with several leaves. Cut just below the third set of leaves from the top. The area where the leaves come out is called a node (so you cut just below the third node). The node is where roots are more likely to develop. Remove the top (apical) bud, where new leaves emerge. Remove the bottom leaves at the third node. Remove all other leaves along the shoot except two to four at the top. Place the cutting in rooting hormone, shake off the excess, then place the cutting in rooting medium, making sure the bottom node is buried about 1/2 inch. Place in suitable light, temperature etc., and keep moist. The shoot should grow roots in a few weeks.

My sage is out doors and gets

By Colin ide

My sage is out doors and gets full sun ☀ it's on a balcony south facing. Still it has lost its leaves.

I have inherited an herb

By KathyBond

I have inherited an herb garden with a very leggy, woody stalked sage plant. New growth on the ends of all stems & flowers just now blooming. To harvest the sage do I cut down to where the green growth begins or further down the woody stalks?

Do not prune it too severely

By Almanac Staff

Do not prune it too severely or it won't come back. Prune back by about 1/3 growth. Keep in mind that a sage plant tends to get lanky as it gets old (3 to 5 years). It's fairly easy to grow sage from seed so you may need to start new plants soon.

Hello, I just bought a well

By Jessica Lynne

Hello, I just bought a well developed, healthy sage plant at my local nursery and was just wondering when I can safely add it into my garden? I am in zone 5
Namaste

Sage is pretty hardy. You can

By Almanac Staff

Sage is pretty hardy. You can put in the ground in the spring 1 to 2 weeks before your last frost. Soil temperature should be 60 degrees.

My sage plant has grown so

By Margaret Grimes

My sage plant has grown so much even in this cold weather ,the leaves have a purple tinge to them,Can I still harvest leaves in Feburary?

Wonderful! Pick sage leaves

By Almanac Staff

Wonderful! Pick sage leaves before or at blooming. Cut back the stems after blooming.

Lots of sage has a purplish

By georgewilson

Lots of sage has a purplish color; that may be natural.

Greetings, I have 2 4 year

By Mama Crow

Greetings,

I have 2 4 year old California White Sage plants - Beautiful both of them. my question is that I would like to share this wealth and take some cuttings to propagate for new plants and don't know how or where to make the cuts to do this? Can you help! :-) Thank you!

Sage is easy to propagate

By Almanac Staff

Sage is easy to propagate from tip cuttings. Take a 3-4 inch cutting at a node (where the leaves attach) on a stem. Remove the lower leaves and insert the cut end into moist soil mix that includes peat or perlite. Cover the container with plastic careful not to touch the leaves and place in a warm location. Check in 2 weeks to see if the cutting has rooted.

Thank you ~ VERY MUCH! I

By Mama Crow

Thank you ~ VERY MUCH! I will get busy now Sharing the wealth of my beautiful California white sage!

My husband has been dying to

By Ericka

My husband has been dying to find CA white sage, but in NY, terrible luck. Yours is the first I have seen mentioned- do you have a seed source?
Regards-

I purchased a sage plant in a

By Anita Daniels

I purchased a sage plant in a planter pot last summer. The pot included parsley and other herbs. All the other herbs died, but the sage thrived. In late Autumn before the frost, I brought it in the house for the winter. It had wonderful big leaves and was thriving when I brought it in the house. Now, several months later the stems are long and lanky and the leaves are small. I can't find any pests on it. What should I do?

My sage plant had lots of

By Colin ide

My sage plant had lots of leaves now it is completely void off leaves but has healthy stems. Will the leaves return.

A lanky plant with small

By Almanac Staff

A lanky plant with small leaves suggests that your sage is not getting enough light. Ideally, something like 6 to 8 hours of daylight per day is needed; a plant may not get enough if it is just sitting by a window (south-facing is best). You might want to provide artificial lighting: Set up grow-lights (such as two fluorescent tubes, one cool, one warm type) and place the plant under them (about 4 to 6 inches away from the lights) for about 12 to 14 hours per day. Ask your garden center for options--there are several bulb types and setups available.
 
Also, keep your plant away from cold drafts (such as by a window), and away from heating vents. A temperature around  65 to 70 degrees is good. Mist regularly.
 

i grow sage on a regulab

By kenneth beavers

i grow sage on a regulab basis, and i have yet to find a plant that even smells like sage. i can remember when i was growing up mother would put sage in sausage and other food and you could smell it all over the house. the sage i have you can boil the leaves and you can not get a sage smell.

There are so many varieties

By Almanac Staff

There are so many varieties of sage. Some are good for the kitchen and others are not--and more ornamental. Salvia officinalis or the common sage is the primary sage used in stuffings. To use sage in stuffing and other foods, just chop up the fresh leaves. Sage is best in its first year. After a few years, it gets woody and needs to be replaced.

i started to grow sage from

By holey leaves :(

i started to grow sage from seeds and it was growin great until ive started noticing some kind of bug is eating the leaves and it has not grown since. im not sure what i can put so it can kill whatever bug is eating it. im afraid its getting the root and it wont grow anymore. Please help im looking forward to continue watchinng my sage grow.

It would be helpful to find

By Almanac Staff

It would be helpful to find out--winged thrips? Spider mites? A general insecticidal soap spray is usually useful. Blast the plant, including the underside of the leaf, with the spray which you can find in a garden store or make yourself.

I've begun growing sage from

By manda_faye

I've begun growing sage from seed, and I planted them in pots so I could move them around. The plants grew really, really well, but I was worried they were too close together and thinned them out. The plants are only about three inches tall. WHat should I do to ensure that they continue growing strongly?

Some thoughts . . . Sage can

By Almanac Staff

Some thoughts . . . Sage can be picky about temperature. When you germinate seeds, temperatures need to be between 60 and 70 degrees. We're not sure where you live, but sage doesn't tolerate the middle of summer well.  It's good that your sage has space. You want 18 to 20 inche bbetween sage and other plants for the roots to do well. Also, be sure not to overwater. Let the soil dry out between waterings.

A few months ago I planted

By davitt

A few months ago I planted three small sage plants near each other. One has grown exponentially, one is healthy but slow-growing, and one is dying. All are on the same watering schedule. any thoughts?

It's hard to say. Some seeds

By Almanac Staff

It's hard to say. Some seeds simply geminate better than others. Also, it could be related to spacing. They should be spaced about 20 inches apart for good growth. 

Are the leaves what you use

By Emily5

Are the leaves what you use in cooking?

Yes, you pick the sage leaves

By Almanac Staff

Yes, you pick the sage leaves off the stem. Pick leaves that aren't wilting or brown. Wash them and pat dry. Use whole or chop up.

I have a sage plant that

By Roxanna Abela

I have a sage plant that looks old it was planted in a raised bed that I acquired. I trimmed it back earlier and now it's going nuts it's blossoming like crazy. But it's taking over the part of the bed it's in. Can I move it while it's blooming?

Unfortunately, this is a poor

By Almanac Staff

Unfortunately, this is a poor time to transplant sage. It's in bloom and the weather is warm. In general, sage can be a challenge to move because you can not easily dig up the plant; when you do, the soil falls off because the roots are woody. It's best to move the plant in small sections in early spring. Since your sage has spread too much, you could dig up part of it and discard it now, then wait until next spring and move new little plants that you may find or other small parts of the plant, which you can easily separate.

Thank you for answering my

By Roxanna Abela

Thank you for answering my post. My plant is so well established I don't know how to take part of it LOL Thank you for your time.

I have a sage plant that is

By Keely

I have a sage plant that is well established and large that I need to move. Will it transplant well?

It's best to move the sage

By Almanac Staff

It's best to move the sage plant in the spring just as growth resumes.

Cuttings from an established plant

By myuncertanty

What is the best way to start a new plant from a cutting of an established sage plant?

Make a soil mix from equal

By Almanac Staff

Make a soil mix from equal parts sand and compost (or peat moss). Fill a few small pots with the mix. Take cuttings from your sage plant and remove the bottom leaves. For better chance of success, dip the bottom of the stems in a root-inducing hormone powder before putting the cuttings into the pots. Water and cover each pot with a plastic bag. When the cuttings have established roots remove the bags.

drying herbs

By Anonymous

I have harvested my herbs, and they dry very fast, other times I have harvested my herbs and they take days to dry. I have failed to take note of those days harvested, so I am at a loss when they dried faster. What phase of the moon is better?
Thanks

Advice on Drying Herbs

By Almanac Staff

It will depend on the type of herb, how much moisture the herbs contain, and how much one is drying at once. Drying time is also affected by the environment (humidity, temperature, air circulation, etc.), the method used for drying, etc. A warm temperature, low humidity, and good ventilation will dry herbs more rapidly. If it is a muggy few days, the herbs will take longer to air dry. (Keep them out of direct sunlight.)
If using a dehydrator, oven, or microwave, times may still vary with moisture content of individual herbs.
If rinsing the herbs before drying, be sure to pat dry fairly well. If drying on the tray, be sure to stir the leaves every so often for even drying.
Best time to harvest herbs for drying is just before they flower. Cut them in the morning, after any dew has dried.
There are several interpretations as to when it is best to harvest herbs according to lunar gardening. One suggestion is to harvest them when the Moon is both in the Fire signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) and full or waning.

Sage

By Anonymous

I am so excited to learn I can grow more from a cutting!

Post new comment

Before posting, please review all comments. Due to the volume of questions, Almanac editors can respond only occasionally, as time allows. We also welcome tips from our wonderful Almanac community!

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Shop Wind Bells in the Almanac General Store