Common Garden Sage
A much-loved herb that has been appreciated by people for thousands of years.
Wise gardeners grow sage. It's an undemanding plant with a lot to offer. The unusual texture and colour of its felty, silvery grey-green leaves seems to bring out the best in other plants, contrasting particularly beautifully with the small, dark leaves of rosemaries and thymes, and its flavour - there are so many uses it's difficult to know where to start. For an unusual but decadent Italian-style aperitivo, try frying the leaves in a light tempura batter and serve with chilled prosecco. Or grow it in a flower border and simply enjoy its rich blue blooms in early summer. Bees and other pollinating insects will thank you too.
Sage is a tonic for the mind, body and soul - not to mention the garden.
Please note that the pot in the photograph is for illustrative purposes only and is not supplied with the plant.
Plant Type: Herb
Hardiness: H5 Hardy. Minimum temperature -15 to -10.
Plant Height & Spread (at maturity): H 75cm x W 75cm (Mature age: 3 Years)
Foliage Colour: Green, Grey
Flower Colour: Blue
Fragrant Flower: No
Aromatic Foliage: Yes
RHS Award of Garden Merit: No
RHS Perfect for Pollinators: Yes
Foliage Type: Evergreen
Soil Type: Acid, Alkaline, Clay, Loam, Chalky
Soil Drainage: Well Drained, Dry
Light Exposure: Full Sun
Planting Style: Containers, Cottage Garden, Informal Garden, Gravel & Drought Resistant Garden, Coastal Garden, Flower Beds & Borders, Urban Garden, Courtyard Garden
Season of Interest: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
Flowering (from - to): May - July
Harvesting (from - to): January - December
Harvesting Instructions: In common with lots of other herbs, sage dries really well, preserving all of its delicious flavour. In fact, some cooks even prefer dried to fresh as it's more concentrated. The optimum time to harvest is in late spring and early summer, before plants have flowered, as that's when the plants will be at their most 'leafy'. Cut off the stalks with scissors or snap them off, and lay out to dry in a warm, dry place such as an airing cupboard, ideally out of direct sunlight. Turn them occasionally and once they're so dry they're crispy, store them in an airtight container. Harvesting regularly helps keep the plants nice and bushy, especially after their second year when they can start being prone to legginess.
Like most Mediterranean herbs, sage needs sun to do its best and prefers to live hard. Give it a well-drained soil and go easy on the watering and it will be happy. An ideal plant for gardens with poor soil. If you get lots of floppy growth you'll know you're being too nice! Don't bother feeding it, unless it's in a container and has been there more than a year.
Harvesting the shoot tips regularly is the best way to prune sage - the idea is to prevent it from becoming leggy - keep it as a nice mounded bush. By removing the tips you'll help keep it bushy.
Don't cut back into old, leafless wood with no leaves, as the plant will struggle to regenerate. However, it's worth growing a few extra plants and leaving them un-pruned as they'll flower better, giving you and the bees something wonderful to enjoy in June.