Plant in the spring after all danger of frost has passed in a location that will receive full sun to partial shade. Space plants 15-20″ apart in dry to average soil that is well-drained. Plant height 18-30. All of the sage varieties are drought tolerant, and a great choice for mixed pots.
During the spring and summer months it is good to use a regular liquid fertilizer or light compost mulch for optimal growth. Sage is a perennial in zone 5 and will become quite woody after a year or two so plants should be replaced every four or five years. Cut back severely in the spring before new growth appears.
Attracts bees and butterflies to the garden. Deer resistant.
Sage, Common salvia officinalis
Sage is a warm, fragrant herb and the smell of it is likely to evoke memories of childhood and large family gatherings. It is the primary flavor in stuffing, which is traditionally prepared during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Its taste is extremely complementary to meats, especially poultry. Sage is delicious with dairy products as well, especially in sauces with eggs, butter, or cheeses. Sage works well in marinades as well.
The blue sage blooms are edible with a warming punch that lingers on the palate! They can be used fresh in salads, cheese or butter spreads or as a garnish. The bracts can be a little strong, so if using them raw pinch off the bracts before using the blooms. You can do this by holding the upper hood and lower lip of the blossom closed with one hand while pinching off the bract and base with the other. They are equally delicious when dipped in a batter and fried until crispy – using this method, you can leave the bracts intact.
Sage is reputed to improve memory, and a ‘sage’, or wise man, is one who has a long memory and preserves his community and its stories. Sage has antiviral, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Its scent and flavor are particularly complementary to Lavender, Rosemary and Thyme, and it is not uncommon to find hygiene and cosmetic products that contain some combination of these herbs.
Sage is a wonderful asset in the garden. The plant itself has a nice mounding habit when pruned properly and bears delicate flower spikes in the late spring and summer which attract bees and are beautiful in mixed bouquets. The foliage is thick and soft with a wooly appearance.
To harvest: fresh is always best. Leaves should be stripped before the sage plant flowers. If you pinch the flowers off during the growing season, you will be able to harvest more leaves. To store, chop the leaves finely and add a little water, freezing the mixture in ice cube trays. Or mix the finely chopped leaves into softened butter for a delicious spread for bread.