A tolerant and extremely rewarding herb, just one good sized plant can provide all the needs of the average family kitchen over many years. Smothered with brightly coloured, nectar rich flowers in early summer they are also an important plant for bees. As evergreens, they add year round structure to the garden, especially useful during the winter months when other plants die back and borders can start to look quite bare.
Sow indoors February to March. Sow thinly 0.5cm deep into small pots of compost. Water well and place in warm, light position, away from cold draughts and out of intense, direct sunlight. Keep the compost just moist and be careful not to overwater, the compost should almost dry out before it is watered again. Seedlings should start to appear in approximately 14-28 days but be patient as germination can be slow. Carefully transplant the seedlings to individual pots when they are large enough to handle. In late May or early June, when the last frosts are over, acclimatise plants to outside conditions. Place plants outside in a sheltered spot during the day and bring them inside again at night when temperature fall. Do this for a week or two, until the plants have hardened off. Plant out to a sunny growing position, spacing them 30-45cm apart. Once established, an occasional liquid feed will help stimulate new leaf production.
Sow outdoors March to July. Sage can be sown outdoors for ease. Choose a sunny location for best results and wait until the soil has warmed up, ideally to around 10°C+. Then sow thinly directly where plants are to grow, in a shallow trench 0.5cm deep and cover the seeds with fine soil. Thin out the seedlings to 30cm apart when large enough to handle. Carefully removed seedlings can be planted out elsewhere if desired. Keep the soil moist at all times and remove any weeds as they appear. Once established, an occasional liquid feed will help stimulate new leaf production.
Top Tips About Seeds
- Once the seed packet has been opened, the seeds can be stored in an airtight container until required for further sowings.
- Sage seeds are best used fresh so be sure to use them up and start again with a new packet if you sow more in future years
Growing in Containers
Mature plants can get quite large but are perfectly happy in a big patio pot. In the first year young sage plants make a great addition to mixed planters.
When seedlings are young and tender slugs and snail can be a problem but otherwise sage plants are extremely robust and trouble free once established.
Fresh leaves can be picked as required throughout the year. Because they are always available there is no need to dry or freeze leaves for later use.
Ideas on how to use your Sage
Trim back mature plants after flowering to stop them getting woody and leggy. Any branches that spoil the symmetry can also be removed. The ideal time to do this is when having a BBQ, burning the branches will give add delicious flavour to the food being cooked. The leaves can also be brewed to make a refreshing tea, said to aid digestion and relieve anxiety.