Part of the mint family, sage is an herb with a uniquely earthy and minty flavor. With its strong and powerful taste, sage acts as an essential seasoning for many delicious dishes. Cooking with freshly cut sage from your home garden enhances the delectably sharp flavor, and adds to any dish it is used in. The best part about growing sage indoors is that it’s quick and easy to get started!
Apart from its flavor, eating sage can have many health benefits, as well. Sage is a great source of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese. It also has different types of vitamin B like folic acid, riboflavin, thiamin and pyridoxine. As it also contains anti-oxidants, sage is very healthy to consume. While sage is usually grown outdoors, you can grow this woody herb inside your home, too. Here is a guide to help you start growing sage indoors.
There are three ways you can plant sage: with a seed, a sapling or by using cuttings.
If you choose to plant a sage seed, buy high-quality seeds and plant them 2 inches deep into the soil. If you want to plant many seeds you’ll want to keep a final distance of about 24” between plants. You can plant seeds closer than this, but be prepared to prune as seedlings sprout. You can also use smaller, but individual containers to start from, like a seed tray, and then transfer to a larger pot later.
Cover the seed with soil and pat it down to make sure that the seed is completely covered. Instead of watering the soil, spray or mist the soil until it feels damp, and maintain this until the plant sprouts. You can also keep the container in a slightly warmer place such as on top of a refrigerator in order to speed its growth. It will take about 3 weeks for the seeds to germinate.
If you choose to plant a sage sapling buy a healthy sapling from a nursery or hardware store. Carefully dig a hole that fully submerges the plants roots, then gently place the plant in a cover with soil. If you want to plant many saplings maintain a minimum distance of 2 feet from each other. Slowly pour a small amount of water, just enough to make the soil wet to the touch for the first inch or so.
If you choose to plant a sage by using cuttings, take a branch of an existing sage plant and cut the top 3-4 inches from it. Remove the lower leaves from the stem by plucking or cutting them off with a pair of scissors. Place the cutting into high quality soil, then water until the soil is moist. You can also cover the new cutting with half a plastic bottle to increase the humidity which will stimulate growth. Wait for 4 – 6 weeks for new roots to form and then move it to a pot. This is a fun method to grow a sage, and lets you easily re-use any existing plants you may have.
The Container and Soil
As sage is a woody herb that grows like a bush it’s best to choose a larger container to grow in. Look for a container that is wider than deep. That said, sage will grow in a wide variety of containers but larger ones will produce more usable sage to harvest.
The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a container is proper drainage. Make sure your container has drainage holes, and drill some if it doesn’t. You can also use containers like clay pots that will naturally whisk water out of the soil. Sage is quite hardy, so a bit of under-watering is much better than overwatering.
For the best growth, use rich clay loam in your potting mix. Choose a high-quality potting mix that aerates and drains well while being rich in nitrogen. If your potting mix is not meant for sage plants, you can mix 1-part perlite with 2-parts all-purpose potting mix to make the ideal potting mix for your sage plant. Sage plants prefer soil with a neutral pH that ranges between 6 and 7.
While sage can survive in a wide variety of climates, they need a lot of sunlight to achieve the best growth. When positioning your container choose a spot that receives a lot of sunlight. Sage plants typically need at least 6 – 8 hours of sunlight every day, but more indirect light won’t harm it.
If you live in a place that doesn’t receive a lot of sunlight you can also use grow lights. Depending on the intensity, position them at a distance of 5-6 inches to prevent burning the plant. Grow lights are a great way to help supplement natural light.
If growing in a climate that experiences winters, make sure that your plant is still receiving the correct amount of light during these months. The sun’s intensity is often less during the cool, winter months, and as such your plant will likely need to be exposed to it longer to get the same benefits.
Sage is a hardy herb that is drought-tolerant. This means you don’t need to water it often for the plant to thrive. On the flip side, you can easily kill the plant by over-watering.
You should water sage plants only when the soil looks dry. An easy way to prevent over-watering your sage plant is to water the plant till the top of the soil looks wet. You can also feel with your hand, the top inch or so should feel moist, but not too damp or drenched. If you feel the top inch of the soil and it still feels wet you can safely hold off on watering at that time.
Mildew is one of the major problems that gardeners face while growing sage. To avoid mildew, closely watch your sage plants during the humid and hotter months. Increase air circulation by pruning some woody stems or by placing your plant in a location with better air flow like an outdoor balcony.
Another way to avoid mildew is to ensure the water is getting properly drained. To increase the rate of evaporation, you can add some small pebbles to the soil. If you notice mildew on your plants, carefully spray your sage plants with horticultural oil or sulfur spray.
During the first year, harvest sage leaves slowly by plucking or cutting the leaves as you need them and be careful not to over harvest. You should always leave the plant with a good amount of leaves so that it can continue to grow. Try to never harvest more than 1/3 of the total leaves at one time.
After the first year you’ll typically be able to harvest more leaves and increase the frequency of harvests. Sage is usually at its best during late spring to mid-summer. At this point, just before the flowers bloom, the leaves will be lush and refreshing, making it the perfect time to harvest sage leaves.
Growing Sage Indoors
Sage is one of the easiest plants to grow indoors as it is quite low-maintenance while producing bountiful harvest all year round. With its strong and aromatic smell, freshly cut sage is a fantastic herb to have around. Very useful when making soups and stews, growing sage indoors is both convenient and delightful. Following our tips, you’ll be growing sage indoors in no time at all!
The sage leaves look wilted. How much more should I water to bring it back?
Sage is a plant that doesn’t need much watering. Increasing the amount of water by a tiny bit should bring the leaves back to life. Also, make sure it’s getting enough light and doesn’t have any sort of pest problem. Water might not always be the problem.
I have noticed pests on my sage plants. What should I do?
While sage is not usually targeted by pests, you can easily remove pests by using organic pesticides or a good quality insecticidal soap. Spray them onto your plants to control the pest problem.
When can I prune my sage plant?
The ideal time to prune sage plants is when the plant looks overgrown and straggly. You can also prune older woody stems to promote healthier, better and fuller growth. Don’t be afraid to prune it back frequently, good and frequent pruning is essential for optimal growth.
Does Sage Keep Bugs Away?
Yes, sage when burned has natural bug repellent properties. It has been shown to keep away annoying pests such as mosquitos.