Sage is more than just a pretty color — it’s also a delicious culinary herb. Growing sage is so simple and even more rewarding. In this guide, I’ll go over everything you need to know to learn how to plant sage.
Whether you’re wondering how to start sage from seed, what soil conditions are best, or how much to water your plants, this guide has you covered! Keep reading and soon you’ll know all about how to plant and grow sage.
What’s Special about Sage
Sage is a woody, evergreen herb with soft green leaves. It’s native to the Mediterranean and is part of the mint family. In ancient Roman times, sage was thought to have healing properties and was used to treat all kinds of ills, especially those related to the stomach and digestion.
In USDA hardiness zones 5-8 Sage is perennial. That means it will come back again year after year without replanting. I love perennial plants in the garden because they’re such an easy way to grow a variety of food with less effort.
Easy to care for
Sage is one of the easiest garden plants to grow. Once it’s in the ground you can pretty much forget about it and it will do just fine on its own.
Sage has a unique, fresh flavor that is deep, rich, and earthy. It makes a great addition to homemade soup or broth, roasted meat, vegetables, and more.
Sage is high in many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants like Vitamin K, magnesium, and zinc. It’s low in calories while being high in nutrients which makes it a healthy addition to any diet.
How to Plant Sage
Now that you know some reasons why you might want to, let’s get into how to plant sage.
Select a Good Planting Site
Sage can be grown both indoors and outdoors. It does well in medium to large containers, in raised garden beds, or in the ground.
Sage prefers soil with a neutral pH between 6.5-7.0. Soil test kits are an easy way to check the pH of your soil.
Sage plants need well-draining soil. They don’t like soggy roots so it’s important that water can drain thoroughly. Heavy clay soil can be amended with a soil conditioner to improve drainage.
If you’re planting sage in containers, use a high-quality potting mix and make sure the pot has adequate drainage holes in the bottom for excess water to drain out.
Sage does well in full to medium sun. It can tolerate some shade, especially in hot weather. Aim for at least 5-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.
Space sage plants 12-24 inches apart. The plants grow around 24-36 inches tall and 24 inches wide.
Starting Sage Seeds Indoors
Starting sage from seed is a simple and affordable way to grow your own fresh sage. Sage seeds are inexpensive and you can grow several plants from just one packet.
A big advantage of starting sage from seed is you can start seeds indoors sooner than you could plant them outdoors. This gives you a head start on the growing season.
Start sage seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost in spring or in mid-summer to plant sage outdoors in fall.
Seed Starting Equipment
When starting any seeds indoors you need some equipment. Good seed-starting equipment makes starting crops from seeds easy and you can use it over and over again.
Here are some things you’ll need:
If you’ll only be growing a few sage plants, you don’t necessarily need all of this equipment. At the minimum, you’ll need seed trays or containers to start seeds in, seed starting mix, seeds, and a sunny location or grow lights. If you keep your house cool, you may also need a heat mat.
And, of course, you’ll need sage seeds! We recommend the Broadleaf Sage seeds from one of our favorite retailers for seeds, Hoss Tools.
Starting Sage Seeds
When starting sage from seed, first gather your supplies in a convenient location. Fill your seed trays or containers with seed starting mix and plant your seeds.
Sage seeds should be planted 1/4 inch deep. You can poke small holes in the mix to drop the seeds in then gently cover, or sprinkle some seeds on top of the mix and cover with another 1/4 inch of seed starting mix.
Water thoroughly using a spray bottle. Sage seeds are quite small and easily displaced. A spray bottle is a good way to add water gently without disturbing the seeds. Once seedlings emerge you can water them with a small watering can.
Keep the seedlings warm and moist while they germinate. Humidity domes are good for helping maintain moisture and temperature.
Direct Sowing Sage Seeds
If you’re wondering how to plant sage outdoors, the process is similar. Once you’ve chosen and prepared a planting location, plant sage seeds to 1/4 inch depth and water thoroughly.
Wait until after the last spring frost to plant sage seeds outdoors.
How to Grow Sage in Containers
Sage grows well in containers both indoors and outdoors.
Use a container that’s at least eight inches deep and provide a place that gets plenty of sun. If you live in a zone that gets too cold for sage to survive outdoors, you can bring the container indoors for the winter.
Caring for Sage Plants
Sage is truly one of the easiest plants to care for. It’s important to keep the soil moist while seeds are germinating but once you have an established plant, very little maintenance is required.
Sage is somewhat drought tolerant so it usually doesn’t need much watering, if at all. Water sage when the top two inches of soil are dry.
Sage is not a heavy feeder so it usually doesn’t need any fertilizer. Using too much fertilizer can actually weaken the flavor of the leaves. Adding compost to the soil when planting is enough to feed the plants for the season.
Add compost again each spring to give the plants plenty of organic matter.
Adding mulch around the base of the plant helps prevent weeds making sage even easier to care for. Mulch also works to maintain moisture and keep the soil from drying out.
How to Harvest Sage
If you only need a few leaves, use your thumb and forefinger to pinch off leaves one at a time near the stem. I love going out to the garden and picking a few sage leaves to add to our dinner.
To harvest larger amounts, use garden shears or sharp scissors to trim off the top six inches of a stem. A cluster of leaves is perfect for flavoring homemade broth or roasting with meats.
To store sage for later, place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Your sage will be good for about a week.
For long-term storage, sage can be dried or frozen.
Knowing How to Plant Sage is a Must for Herb Gardens!
Learning how to plant sage is well worth your time and the investment pays off year after year. Once you start using fresh sage from your garden, you’ll never look at store-bought the same way again!
To learn how to plant more herbs, visit the Seed Starting page on our website. You’ll find planting guides for lots of different vegetables, herbs, and flowers, plus tips and tricks, product recommendations, and more.
Inspired to start your own herb garden? Then learn more about planting and growing specific herbs with our guides and info posts!