Salvia officinalis

Common name: Sage

Sage is an easy to grow hardy perennial originating from Mediterranean regions.

It enjoys a sunny position in well-drained, fertile soil, and can looks quite spectacular in the herb garden and herbaceous border.

Although classified as a hardy evergreen perennial, it is sometimes grown as an annual in the UK.

When grown as a perennial it is better replaced every three or four years, as it has a tendency to grow woody.

The aromatic leaves can be used as a culinary herb, where it is often used to make stuffing and to flavour meat dishes.

It grows into a dwarf shrub approx 750mm (30") tall, and has velvety leaves and small,bee attracting lavender / purple flowers.

The golden variety makes a more attractive leaf colour than conventional sage.

Sage needs minimal maintenance over the year.

It is suited to dry conditions so avoid watering in dry spells.

Similarly, if plenty of organic matter has been incorporated into the soil when planting out,it shouldn’t need feeding during the growing season

Each autumn, a mulch of fresh organic matter will boost the nutrient content and keep the roots protected from frost.

Cultivation

Week 17: Sow seed in pots/trays of seed compost and germinate at a temperature of 13°-16°C (55°- 60°F).

Prick out when large enough to handle into 75mm (3") pots of potting compost and grow on in a coldframe until planting out time.

If plants are obtained by mail order unpack immediately on arrival and water thoroughly, and if necessary, place in a sheltered, airy position out of direct sunlight for a few days so the plants can acclimatise.

Either plant direct into the garden, or in containers, growbags, or if kept trimmed they can be grown in pots on the windowsill.

Week 18: Layer suitable woody stems by burying the stem.

Firstly remove leaves from the stem to be buried and scrape the underside to create a wound then loosen the soil and pin the stem down with wire.

Cover with soil, leaving the growing tip clear of the surface then water the area well.

New plants should be ready to detach by autumn.

Week 22: Plant out 400mm (16") apart in humus rich soil, and in a sunny position.

Ensure that soil does not waterlog, especially during winter.

Trim foliage as necessary throughout the season to keep plants in shape.

Week 26: Pinch out flowers to encourage leaf growth.

Week 30: Herbs that have become straggly, can be regenerated by taking 75mm (3") heel cuttings.

Use semi-ripe side-shoots.

Dip the cuttings into a hormone rooting powder and insert them into pots containing a 50-50 mix (by volume) of compost and sharp sand.

Place out in a cold frame to root, and grow on till planting out time the following year.

After the flowers die down plants should be pruned to half their size.

Week 48: Small plants can be dug up from the garden and potted up individually into pots just large enough to take their roots for use throughout the winter months,

Harvesting:

Sage is best used fresh so cut /pinch off the leaves as required.

Leaves for drying should be picked on a dry day then stored in a warm dry room/store until they are crumbly to touch.

When fully dry, crumble the leaves, and store them out of direct sunlight in an airtight container.

Similarly,leaves can be picked fresh, then placed in a plastic bag and frozen for use in the winter months.





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