How to Grow the Herb Sage


Sage, also known by its Latin name, Salvia officinalis, is an herbaceous perennial shrub native to coastal areas of the Mediterranean region. Gardeners value the herb for its aromatic leaves, which are harvested and used as seasoning in a variety of foods. Sage features attractive, gray-green foliage and small flower spikes that appear in spring and summer. Hardy in zones 4 through 8, sage grows easily in most of the United States. The plant reaches heights of up to 30 inches with proper care and survives for several years before replacement is necessary.

Step 1

Apply a 1/2-inch layer of organic compost to a planting site that receives six to eight hours of full sunlight each day. Use a garden tiller to work the material into the soil, increasing moisture retention and fertility.

Step 2

Freeze sage seeds about 3 days before planting to provide the cold temperatures necessary for germination. Sow the seeds into the soil about two weeks before the final frost of spring. Completely cover the seeds with soil, as darkness is required for germination.

Step 3

Water the sage once per week during the first month of growth to help establish the root system. Reduce the frequency of watering thereafter to once every 10 days, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between applications.

Step 4

Feed sage plants once every two months using a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer. Water both before and after applying to reduce the risk of root injury. Fertilize at the rate recommended by the manufacturer for the best results.

Step 5

Harvest sage during any time of year by using scissors to snip off the desired leaves. Allow several stalks to remain on the plant so it can easily rejuvenate. Store harvested leaves by sealing and freezing in a plastic freezer bag or drying and storing in a cool, dark place.

Step 6

Remove plants from the garden after about four years of growth. Sage becomes woody and unproductive after several years of harvesting. Dig up the entire plant and discard it in the compost pile or burn it. Start new plants in the same location if desired.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never harvest more than 50 percent of the plant at a time, or it may not recover.

Things You'll Need

  • Organic compost
  • Garden tiller
  • Fertilizer
  • Scissors


  • Washington State University: Sage
  • National Gardening Association: Growing Sage
  • "Your Backyard Herb Garden: A Gardener's Guide to Growing Over 50 Herbs Plus How to Use Them in Cooking, Crafts, Companion Planting and More"; Miranda Smith; 1999
Keywords: herb sage, sage, growing sage

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including