Sage (Salvia officinalis)—also known as Common Sage, Culinary Sage and Garden Sage—is a perennial evergreen shrub found widely in the Mediterranean regions of the world. It belongs to the genus Salvia, which consists of over 900 varieties of shrubs, annuals and herbaceous perennials. This plant is used for its medicinal value and essential oil and also as a flavoring and seasoning ingredient. Its medicinal properties include the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. This garden plant has gray leaves, wooden stems, and purple or blue flowers, which usually bloom in mid-summer. There are some common conditions that should be avoided while growing sage plants.
Sage plants can be transplanted using root cuttings or seeds. If seeds are used to propagate the plant, they should be sown while they are fresh. Sage plants do not grow easily with stored seeds and can establish slowly and unreliably even with fresh ones. For propagating this plant, root cuttings can be layered along the side branches so that they touch the soil.
Sage needs a medium-wet soil that is well-dug and enriched with one or two handfuls of bone meal. The bone meal should be worked in at the start and end of the summer season. The soil bed should be well-drained for healthy growth of sage plants.
Sage plants grow slowly until they are established. This plant requires maximum sunlight for a proper growth. A little shade is necessary if the plant is grown at higher altitudes where the exposure to the sun and hence the temperature is higher. When grown indoors, the plant should be placed near windows where it can receive direct sunlight. Sage plants are also found to grow well under fluorescent lamps.
The plant should be watered regularly. However, one must not overwater the plant, especially during summers. Sage plants tend to thrive best in a dry and sunny environment.
Sage plants, like any other garden plant, should be well spaced. Overcrowding hampers plant growth as the neighboring plants compete for nutrients.
Tips for Plant Care
Sage plants must be protected from wind and frost, and should be pruned on a regular basis. Here are some useful tips for a proper growth of sage plants:
- Protect the plant from frost: Frost damages sage plants. The best time to plant sage is before the onslaught of frost. It is advisable to grow the plants in containers and bring them indoors during winter.
- Pruning: The plant should be pruned periodically for a healthy growth and also to avoid growth of woody stems. The plant should be pruned to almost half its size in the summers after the flowers have fallen.
- Protect the plant from wind: Support rods (approximately 3 feet long) should be used with the plant to avoid weak stems from being blown away by the wind.
- Harvesting: A sage plant should be harvested yearly after its establishment in the first year. The individual leaves can be dried and stored for seasoning and flavoring. Harvesting prevents the woody overgrowth of sage plants.