Learn how to grow sage, and enjoy sage’s gray-green foliage in flower beds, containers, and the garden. A popular herb in desert areas such as the low desert of Arizona, sage is tolerant of hot weather, poor soil, and drought conditions. This quick-growing perennial herb’s flowers also attract pollinators and beneficial insects.
This article includes how to grow sage, and tips for harvesting and using sage. Keep reading to also learn how to grow sage in Arizona.
How To Grow Sage
Don’t rush planting sage in the spring; it prefers warm soil. Transplant seedlings into the garden after all danger of frost has passed. Allow about a foot between sage plants.
There are many ways to add sage to your garden.
Planting a sage plant from a local nursery? Here are some tips for choosing sage plants:
- Look for sturdy transplants with multiple stems in three-inch or larger pots.
- Avoid sage plants that appear leggy or gangly.
- Check undersides of leaves for whiteflies.
- Check roots of sage transplants, they should not be overgrown – plant should not appear too large for its pot.
Growing sage from seed can be challenging but if growing sage from seed, here are a few tips:
- Start seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost date.
- Repot into three-inch pots when plants are 2-3 inches tall and have 2 sets of leaves.
Sage can also be propagated by stem cuttings, root divisions, and layering.
Caring for sage
Give sage plenty of sun. Sage thrives in full sun and can take the heat.
Don’t let sage roots get soggy. Sage tolerates dry conditions and poor soil, but will die if the soil is soggy and not well draining.
Prune sage plants in the spring of their second year, just as new leaves begin to appear. Prune to remove dead wood and for shape.
Sage is relatively pest free; do not use pesticides on or near sage.
Mulch sage plants to prepare for winter. Do not mulch heavily in the summer; sage plants prefer drier soil.
Divide sage plants every 3 to 5 years.
Harvest sage leaves as needed year round.
Many varieties of sage bear edible flowers. Harvest flower spikes to encourage a second flush of blooms. Unlike other herbs, sage leaves are still delicious after the plant flowers.
Dry sage to enjoy later. Dry sage leaves on a screen in a well-ventilated area. I like these herb-drying screens from Amazon. You can also tie several branches together and hang them upside down. Allowing leaves to dry slowly prevents them from becoming moldy. Once leaves are completely dry, store them in airtight jars for best flavor.
Tips for how to grow sage in Arizona
In March, cut sage back by about a third to encourage new growth. During the hottest months, water sage deeply but infrequently. Sage rots easily in hot, wet soil.
In Arizona, plant sage in September or October. Fertilize sage in October. I like this granular fertilizer from Amazon.
Arizona Herb Planting Guide helps you learn when to plant over 30 different herbs in Arizona, and whether to plant seeds or transplants.