Common Mistakes Made When Growing Garden Sage

growing sage

Sage is a herb that is so easy to grow that it might seem like it is foolproof. However, like most plants, it has growing preferences for optimum results and it isn’t uncommon for crop failure to occur, especially when a person tries to grow it the same way that other herbs are grown.

This is a plant that originates in an area where conditions are harsh, namely on the coast of the mediterranean. Temperatures often vary between extremes, the soil is normally deficient and the climate can be quite dry. Sage flourishes in these conditions.

Mistakes with Soil

One of the most common errors is to try to grow sage in very rich soil that is high in nitrogen. This kind of soil is great for basil, but it can kill sage or at least cause it to be weak and unproductive. The dirt does need to drain well, but it should only be moderately rich. This means that standard garden soil is often rich enough without adding amendments. If the soil is nutrient poor, just add a couple of spade fulls of finished compost to the dirt that comes out of a hole that is a foot in depth and diameter. Avoid over fertilizing sage.

Mistakes with Water

Again, there is a propensity for watering in the amounts usually given to other herbs, like basil and mint. Too much water for sage can kill it, especially if the roots are allowed to sit in the water for longer than a few hours. Instead, water well and deeply, then let the soil partly dry out before watering again. This herb is also one that lets you know when it needs water, as the leaves will begin to droop. It then needs a good, deep, and thorough watering, letting the soil again dry out before adding water the next time.

For potted sage, simply put the pots in a container of water and allow the soil to soak the water up until the top surface is damp, before removing the pots. This usually takes no longer than a couple of hours and it is a far better method of watering than doing so from the top.

Lack of pruning

If sage isn’t pruned periodically, the stems can get very leggy and the leaves will normally be smaller. Clip off the top couple of inches of the stems without removing so much that it doesn’t still have some leaves on it. Doing this encourages the sage to become bushier and healthier, and it usually results in larger leaves. You aren’t doing the plant any favors by not pruning it.

These are only three things, but they cover probably well over three-quarters of the most common problems people might have when growing garden sage. The plants are quite hardy, surviving both bitter cold temperatures that are well below freezing and very hot ones of 100 degrees F or more for many days. The plant doesn’t like especially rich soil, though the dirt does need to be able to drain well. Sage also prefers to dry out a bit between drinks of water and it is good at letting you know when it is thirsty.

If you avoid the common mistakes, it is amazingly simple to have a robust sage harvest.




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Posted in food and plants and tagged , , , , , by with 2 comments.


  • Andria Perry says:

    I did used to have my sage in a poor spot and it lasted for years and years. I planted more last year and it died, now I know why 🙁

    • rextrulove says:

      It is a very easy thing to start treating sage like a regular garden plant, giving it lots of water, making sure it gets nice rich soil and so forth. It usually won’t survive, but a lot of people never understand why. 🙂

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