How to Trim Sage Plants

Overview

Not only is sage (Salvia officinalis) high in vitamins, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension, but chefs commonly use the plant's pungent foliage as seasoning in various culinary entrees. Sage also makes a lush ornamental shrub thanks to its blue flowers. Regular trimming and pruning helps the sage plant maintain its vigorous growth.

Step 1

Pinch back the sage plant during its first growing season after planting. Use your thumb and forefinger to snip off the growing tips of the sage's branches. This encourages a more dense, multi-branched shrub and more prolific flowering, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension.

Step 2

Prune the sage in the spring of its third year, according to Purdue University, and every spring thereafter. This helps keep the plant from becoming too woody. Woody plants don't produce as much foliage and blossoms. Measure a third of the plant's branch, starting from its growing tip.

Step 3

Identify a leaf node nearest the 1/3 mark. A leaf node is the bump on the branch where leaves sprout. Cut off the end of the branch just past the leaf node. New foliage will sprout from the node, helping to keep the sage productive and growing strong.

Step 4

Discard all removed vegetation or chop it into inch-long pieces and add it to your compost pile.

Tips and Warnings

  • Despite all your best trimming efforts, sage plants will gradually cease being productive and will need to be dug out and replaced with new plants every three to five years, according to Purdue University.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears

References

  • "Your Backyard Herb Garden: A Gardener's Guide to Growing Over 50 Herbs"; Miranda Smith; 1999
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension: Growing Sage and Mint
  • Purdue University: Growing Herbs
Keywords: trim sage plants, prune sage plants, sage plant trimming

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.