A member of the mint family, sage is a hardy evergreen shrub that is easy to grow. The word sage is derived from "salvere," which is Latin for "to be saved." The name was earned because of the diversity of the sage plant, one of the most popular herbs in history. For centuries, it has been cultivated to use for a wide variety of culinary and medicinal purposes.
The ideal spot for a sage plant is where the soil drains well and the plant can get at least eight to 10 hours each day of direct sunlight. Any less and your sage will continue to grow, but will not be as pungent or flavorful. Sage will grow happily in a vegetable or herb patch, as a border plant where it can double as an ornamental, or in a container on a sunny porch or windowsill.
Sage prefers a rich, moist soil. Mix 1 to 2 cups of compost into each square foot of soil where you are growing sage in the ground. In containers sage can be grown directly in compost, or in a mixture of 1 part compost to 1 part potting soil. Ideally, sage likes soil on the acidic side, but can tolerate pH levels from 5.8 to 7.0. If you are unsure about your soil's pH level you can test it with kits sold at gardening centers.
Peat pellets are ideal for propagating sage from seeds. Sprinkle fresh seeds on moistened pellets set in trays, and pour water into the tray as frequently as is necessary to keep the pellet moistened, but not soggy. Once the seedling is 2 or 3 inches high, the entire pellet can be picked up and planted into a pot or the ground. This prevents the roots from being disturbed. Spacing them 4 to 6 inches apart will give them ample room.
Sage plants prefer moist soil, and should be watered deeply, but must not be allowed to sit in mud or it may lead to mold, fungus or root rot. Water the soil around the base of the plant instead of the foliage. Keeping foliage dry can reduce problems with fungus, mold and reduces the risk of spreading disease. To keep sage well nourished, add an all-purpose water-soluble fertilizer every six weeks and mulch with a layer of organic matter.
When your sage plants are about 4 inches tall, prune off the tips to encourage branching. Harvest sage regularly to promote bushiness by taking as many leaves as are necessary, up to half the plant at one time. Cut off dying blossoms to encourage fuller plants. Never prune or harvest sage when the foliage is wet; it can increase the risk of spreading an undetected diseases.