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How to Plant Sage

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.

Closeup of a gree sage plant in the garden. Knowing how to plant sage is a must for any herb garden!

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.

A bunch of harvested sage leaves.

Perennial

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.

Yellow and green variegated sage.

Delicious

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.

Nutritious

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.

Purple 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.

Soil

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.

Sunlight

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.

Green and white variegated sage.

If growing indoors, a sunny windowsill works well. If you don’t have a good spot indoors, you can use a grow light or grow kit to make sure your plants have enough light.

Spacing

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.

Person holding pot of sage seedlings.

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:

Seedling Starting Equipment

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Hoss Germination Mat

Indoor Seed Starting Light Kit

SunGrow Black Gold Seed Starting Mix

48 Cell Seed Starting Kit

Gardening Gloves

Garden Shovel

Spray Bottle

Watering Can

Garden Labels

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.

The front and back view of a packet of broadleaf sage seeds sold by 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.

Sadie holding sage seeds in her palm.

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.

A humidity dome covering a seed starting tray.
A humidity dome for a seed starter tray.

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.

A woman planting sage in an herb planter box.

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.

Watering

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.

Woman using a watering can to water sage in the garden,

Fertilizing

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.

Mulch

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

Woman harvesting sage leaves from a plant.

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.

Storing Sage

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!

Woman holding handfuls of fresh sage leaves.

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.