Purple and green sage foliage

How to grow sage

Find out how to grow, harvest and store sage, in our practical Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sow
Sow

Do not Sow in January

Do not Sow in February

Do Sow in March

Do Sow in April

Do Sow in May

Do not Sow in June

Do not Sow in July

Do not Sow in August

Do Sow in September

Do Sow in October

Do not Sow in November

Do not Sow in December

Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do not Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Harvest
Harvest

Do Harvest in January

Do Harvest in February

Do Harvest in March

Do Harvest in April

Do Harvest in May

Do Harvest in June

Do Harvest in July

Do Harvest in August

Do Harvest in September

Do Harvest in October

Do Harvest in November

Do Harvest in December

  • Plant size

    60cm height

    60cm spread

  • Average Yield

    Pick leaves as required

Sage is a fantastic culinary herb. With its silvery evergreen leaves and pretty flowers – from intense blue to magenta – it’s quite at home in the ornamental border. It tastes good, too.  And, with literally hundreds of different types of sage to choose from, there’s one to suit every situation.

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How to grow sage

Grow sage in well-drained soil in full sun. Annual and biennial sages can be grown from seed, while perennial sages are best grown from young plants. Many sages do well in pots. Harvest the leaves as and when you need to and trim back perennial types after flowering.

More on growing sage:


Where to grow sage

Planting a variegated sage plant in a trough
Planting a variegated sage plant in a trough

Sage does best in full sun, which brings out the flavour of the leaves. Choose free-draining soil or compost – sages can die in waterlogged soils in winter. Add grit to the planting hole if you have heavy soil.

Sages do well in pots, again, only if they do not become waterlogged in winter.


How to care for sage

After flowering, give sage plants a gentle prune to stop them getting woody. Don’t prune into old wood because it won’t regrow.

Some sages need frost protection, others will survive outside as long as their roots don’t become waterlogged.

At the start and end of summer, sprinkle a couple of handfuls of bonemeal or other slow-release fertiliser around the sage plants, gently working it into the soil.

Perennial sages can be short-lived. Take cuttings every couple of years to insure against losses.

Follow Monty Don’s video guide to keeping sage alive over winter, by planting rooted cuttings in the greenhouse:


Growing sage: problem solving

Sage is usually trouble free, although it can suffer from red spider mite and leafhoppers, which can discolour the leaves. Blast them off with a jet from your hose or spray with a soap-based organic insecticide if necessary.


How to propagate sage

How to grow sage - taking sage cuttings
How to grow sage – taking sage cuttings

Annual and biennial sages are easy to grow from seed in spring. Start them off indoors ready to plant out after the last frost has passed.

Seed-sown perennial sage is slow to get going so it’s best to buy young plants instead. You can also take ‘soft tip’ cuttings (the tip of a young shoot just below a leaf joint), which are quick to root in pots of damp sharp sand on a sunny windowsill.

In this video guide, Monty Don demonstrates how to propagate Mediterranean herbs, including sage, from semi-ripe cuttings. Find out how to select suitable cuttings material, how to prepare it and what potting mix to use, then how to plant the cuttings and what aftercare to provide:


How to harvest sage

Harvesting sage leaves

Perennial sages are evergreen so you can pick fresh leaves all year round. For the best flavour, pick them before the flowers appear and wait until late morning or early evening when the aromatic oils are concentrated in the leaves.

Pick the leaves of annual and biennial sages before they flower.


Cooking with sage

Sage can be used in a variety of dishes, from stuffing, casseroles and soups. In winter, bring out the flavour of the leaves by placing them in a sieve and pouring boiling water over them. This stimulates the volatile oils inside the leaves, and makes them taste better.


How to store sage

Use sage fresh when you can. It also dries well but develops a musty flavour if stored for too long.


Sage varieties to try

Variegated sage
Variegated sage
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  • Salvia officinalis – hardy evergreen with aromatic, grey-green leaves and pale-blue flowers
  • Salvia lavandulifolia – neat, very aromatic and frost-hardy with mauve flowers
  • Salvia microphylla var. microphylla (blackcurrant sage) – frost-hardy perennial with cerise flowers and blackcurrant-scented leaves
  • Salvia viridis var. comata – a half-hardy annual with red, blue and pink flowers that are great in salads
  • ‘Tangerine’ – frost-hardy perennial with red flowers. Its tangerine-scented leaves make a great addition to fruit salads