Growing Sage in Pots allows you to have this aromatic herb available year-round in your urban home without a garden.
Sage is one of the most popular perennial kitchen herbs and used in many of the lip-smacking delicacies made using pork, cheese, and beans. You can grow it easily in pots in a limited space, both outdoors and indoors. It only needs the right combination of soil, sunlight, environment, and little care. This article will showcase everything that you need to know on How to Grow Sage in Pots Indoors or Outdoors.
Botanical Name: Salvia officinalis.
USDA Zones: 4 to 10
Soil pH: 6 to 7, Slightly Acidic to Neutral
You can propagate sage by cuttings, division, seeds, and layering. They’re explained below:
Growing Sage from Cuttings
If you’ve got an existing plant, cut its 3-4 inches long “new growth” cuttings just below the root node, which you’ll find on the opposite of the leaf stem. Remove the lower leaves and flower buds (if present) and leave only 2-3 pair of leaves. Plant these cuttings in separate pots or use a single wide pot. Keep the soil evenly moist to help the new roots emerge. For better success rate, dip your cuttings in the rooting hormone before planting.
Growing Sage from Division
One more straightforward way to propagate sage is by division. You can dig up your existing mature plant and divide it in many, using a knife. Depending on the size of the rootball, divide it in two, three, or four, and plant each in individual small pots. The best time for the division is spring or autumn when the soil temperature is warm.
Growing Sage from Seeds
Growing sage from seeds is also an option, but it’s a time-consuming process, so it’s better to *buy a couple of healthy transplants from any nearby nursery and multiply them following other methods. Sow seeds shallowly, 1/4 inch deep, when the soil temperature is around or above 60 F (15 C) for best results. Seeds will germinate within 2-3 weeks. You can also start seeds indoors in spring if the expected last frost date has not passed yet.
Growing Sage from Layering
Growing sage from layering is an easy way to multiply this aromatic herb. For this, select a long trailing stem that can be bent, remove its lower leaves, and create a small wound with the fingernail on the stem part that you’ll bury in soil. Bury it 2 inches deep near the mother plant and cover with soil. It’ll root in several weeks. Once it does, disconnect it from the parent plant and plant it in a new location.
Note: If you’re growing sage in pots for the first time, it’s better to buy healthy sage transplants from a nursery rather than trying these propagation methods.
Choosing a Container
A clay pot would be the best for growing sage. In the beginning, select a container that is a minimum 8 inches deep and wide similarly. Later, you can repot this herb into a bigger pot once it outgrows the current pot and become root-bound. Ensure your pot has sufficient drainage holes to avoid waterlogging.
Also Read: How to Grow Rosemary in Pots
Requirements for Growing Sage in Pots
While you can grow sage in part sun, the most aromatic and healthy sage plant grows in full sunlight. Hence it is essential to place the plant in a position that gets 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. If you live in a hot climate, save the plant from the intense afternoon sun, especially in summer.
Most suitable position for growing sage indoors is either South or West facing window. If you don’t receive proper sunlight indoors, use grow lights for this purpose.
Never use regular garden soil for growing sage in pots. Either make your own soilless potting mix or buy it from a garden center or online. Your growing medium should be well-drained and loamy. To enrich it, add 20-25 percent compost to the potting mix.
Water a young and newly transplanted sage plant regularly for the first few weeks until it’s establishing without overdoing it. Once the plant gets an excellent growth and develops a healthy root system, start keeping it on a drier side–Water only when the topsoil seems dry to touch. Avoid overwatering and overhead watering to prevent root rot and diseases like leaf spot and powdery mildew.
Also Read: Growing Chives In Pots & Its Care
Sage Care in Pots
Sage, like other herbs, doesn’t like a strong fertilizer dose. Also, fertilizing a lot reduces its intense flavor. You can mix aged compost or well-rotted manure at the time of planting in the potting mix and side-dress it again after 6-8 weeks interval. If you’re not using compost, feed it with a general-purpose liquid fertilizer diluted in half or quarter-strength.
If you’re not using compost or other organic fertilizer, fertilize sage with a general-purpose liquid fertilizer like 20-20-20, once in 4-6 weeks during the growing season. Don’t feed in winter unless you live in a warm climate.
Pinch off the top tips, when your young sage plant is 4-5 inches tall and has grown several sets of true leaves, using shears or fingernails. This will induce new bushier growth.
Pruning and Deadheading
Like other perennial herbs, a sage requires hard pruning once in a year. The best time is when new growth starts to appear, young leaves unfurl, and new buds form in spring. Trim all the dead, decaying, and crossing woody stems. You can do a slight pruning again after flowering ends in summer.
Also, divide the plant once every 2-3 years to help it maintain its life and vigor. For the leaves to retain their best flavor all year round, always prune the flower buds before they start to bloom.
Keep in mind that sage tends to become woody and its growth starts to fall after 4 years or so, and it is recommended to replace the plant once you notice the same. To learn about pruning sage and other herbs, check out this article.
If you’re growing sage in a hot and windy climate, do mulching with organic matter. It’ll keep the soil cool and help in retaining moisture. Leaves or straws from your garden should be fine, or else, add a layer of pebbles.
Pests and Diseases
Mildew can affect your sage plant in a pot. To prevent this, provide good air circulation, don’t grow this herb in the shade and avoid wetting the foliage. Be extra careful in hot and humid conditions. In pests, beware of aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites. If you identify them, spray mild insecticidal soap on the plant. Learn how to make homemade insecticidal soap here.
Sage Plant Care in Winter
Sage is a cold-hardy herb but to prevent any damage, start keeping it indoors in winter before the freezing temperature occurs. Keep the plant near a bright window that receives some sunlight. Protect it from cold drafts, reduce water, and avoid fertilizing until the weather starts to warm up.
Harvesting and Storage
Harvest sage lightly in the first year, whenever you need it. You can also dry the harvested sage for future use. For this, hang the stems upside down in a warm and dry spot that doesn’t receive the intense sun, once the leaves are dry, strip and store them in an airtight container. You can also keep the stems with flowers attached, as they work really well with arrangements that have dried herbs. Learn more about harvesting herbs here.