Sage is a popular herb used to make stuffing and to flavour meat dishes. It is native to the Mediterranean but is a hardy perennial and is easy to grow. Sage enjoys a sunny position in a well-drained, fertile soil. Sage is an attractive plant to have growing in the garden; its velvety leaves and small, purple flowers look spectacular in the herb garden and herbaceous border alike.
Varieties of Sage
There are plenty of sage varieties to try; including purple and variegated-leaved ones, with a range of differently-coloured flowers:
- Varigated leaf sage – this sage has variegated leaves and lilac blue flowers and a good flavour.
- Purple sage – this sage has a good flavour and beautiful purple leaves
- Common sage – this is the original sage, used to make stuffing and flavour meat dishes.
How to Grow Sage
Sage will tolerate most conditions as long as it has plenty of sun. It does best in a well-prepared bed with plenty of organic matter (such as well-rotted animal manure or homemade compost) incorporated into it.
Sage takes a long time to grow from seed, so it is best bought as a young plant and transplanted straight into the garden. Alternatively, you can propagate sage from another plant by taking cuttings.
Care of Sage
Sage requires a little maintenance over the year. It enjoys dry conditions so avoid watering it in dry spells. It shouldn’t be necessary for you to feed your sage plant during the growing season if you incorporated plenty of organic matter when planting. Each autumn, a mulch of fresh organic matter will boost the nutrient content and keep the roots protected from harsh frosts.
After the flowers die down sage should be pruned to half its size, using secateurs. Sage looses some of its flavour after about 3 years. After this time it is a good idea to take cuttings from the original plant to grow into new, more flavoursome plants.
Sage eaves are easy to harvest. Simply cut off the leaves with scissors or pinch them off with your fingers. Sage is best used fresh, although the leaves can be placed in a plastic bag and frozen to use throughout the winter months. The leaves can also be dried, simply harvest them on a dry day and store in a warm, dry room until they are crumbly to touch. Then store the crumbled leaves in an airtight container and store out of direct sunlight.
Growing Sage in a Container
Sage does well in a container. Simply grow in normal potting compost and keep the pot fairly dry, in a warm, sunny position. Prune once a year and feed with a liquid feed every fortnight during the growing season.
Sage is a great herb to grow in the garden. It is an attractive plant, with velvety leaves ranging from grey/green to purple (depending on the variety). It is extremely useful in the kitchen and can be chopped up and made into stuffing, used to make a refreshing tea, or used to flavour a wide range of dishes.