Grow Your Own

Sage

Famed as part of a double act alongside onion in the famous sage and onion stuffing, sage is a strongly-scented herb that can be used to flavour many vegetable or meat dishes. Fresh or dried leaves are used to make teas. Sage loves a warm, sunny and sheltered spot - and is attractive enough to be grown alongside other ornamental plants.

Sage

Sow

Sage is normally brought as ready-grown plants from garden centres, but you can grow from seed or take cuttings. Growing from seed or taking cuttings will mean a longer time until you have plants ready to harvest.

If you do decide to sow seed, do so into small pots in spring and cover with a thin layer of perlite. Place in a propagator to germinate – they can take up to three weeks to germinate.

Grow

Water plants regularly, especially during dry spells, but avoid overwatering as sage hates wet roots.

Pruning plants after flowering helps to maintain an attractive shape and encourages lots of new growth.

Raise containers onto pot feet in winter to allow excess moisture to drain away.
 

Plant

If planting in the garden, dig over the entire area, removing weeds and incorporating plenty of well-rotted manure or compost. Choose a sheltered spot protected from strong winds in full sun.

Sage can also be planted in 20-45cm (12in) pots filled with soil-based compost.

Common problems

Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew: Appears as a white powdery deposit over the leaf surface and leaves become stunted and shrivel.

Remedy: Keep the soil moist and grow in cooler locations.

More info on Powdery Mildew

Capsid bugs

Capsid bugs: Pale green, sap-sucking insects cause foliage damage from late spring to the end of summer. Leaves develop many small, brown edged holes, and often become distorted.

Remedy: Check plants on a regular basis. Vegetables generally tolerate capsid damage and plants in flower should not be sprayed due to potential effects on pollinators.

More info on Capsid bugs

Rosemary beetle

Rosemary beetle: Both the small oval beetle with metallic green and purple stripes, and its greyish white larvae are a problem. The pest can be found in great numbers on plants, where it will quickly strip stems of leaves.

Remedy: Check plants regularly and pick beetles off by hand.

More info on Rosemary beetle

Harvesting

As it’s an evergreen leaves can be picked at any time for adding fresh to dishes. To ensure leaves remain in good condition over winter, protect the top growth from the worst of the weather with a layer of horticultural fleece. If you have a glut of leaves or lots of plants, consider drying or freezing the excess.

Varieties

Common sage:

Shrub, 80cm (32in) tall with wrinkly, grey-green leaves.

‘Icterina:

Green and yellow leaved variegated sage with a mild flavour.

‘Tricolor’:

Showy pink, white and green leaves. Less hardy than common sage.

Broad-leaved sage:

Excellent culinary sage with large leaves and strong flavour.


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