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Sage: How to Grow, Harvest, and Use this Versatile Herb

A healthy sage plant close up from TN Nursery.

Sage is the common name for a large group of plants in the genus Salvia. There are around 900 species widely distributed around the world. Many species are grown as ornamentals because of their attractive flowers or foliage, and others are grown for their culinary uses.

Where Does the Sage Plant Originate?

Common sage is a native of the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It is a hardy perennial, an erect shrub growing from 12 to 30 inches high. Its downy stems are square, showing it to be a member of the much larger mint family. The 2-inch long leaves of the sage plant are long-stalked and arranged on opposite sides of the stem.

What Does the Sage Plant Look Like?

The sage plant leaves look pebbly and pucker-veined and are grayish-green in color, softly hairy or velvety, with round-toothed edges. In late spring through fall, there are whorls of '4 to 8 sage flowers appearing in colors of pink, red, blue, pale yellow, or white, depending on the variety.

These tiny sage flowers are tubular, 0.5-0.75 inch long, with a straight or arched upper lip, and a ring of hairs inside.

Optimal Growing Conditions and Planting Tips for Sage

Sage does well in full sun in well-drained, moderately rich clay loam soil. It benefits from moderately high nitrogen levels since the foliage is the desired part of the crop. Sage does not tolerate poorly drained soil or excessive watering, so you might consider planting it in raised beds. As soon as the soil warms up in spring, sow the seed 3mm deep.

The sage seeds should sprout in 7 to 10 days at 60 degrees. When the sage seedlings are 3 inches high, thin or transplant them to 12 to 20 inches apart. The first summer, you can harvest a few sage leaves, but large harvests should not be made until the following summer. 

Besides sowing seed, sage can be propagated from cuttings, divisions, or layerings taken from new growth on established sage plants.

Water your new sage plants well until they are established. Try to keep the leaves dry and water only sparingly during dry weather.

On established plants, harvest or prune the sage 2 or 3 times from spring through late summer. To get the best flavor and fragrance from your sage plants, harvest them just before they bloom. Cut the plant to about 4 inches and snap the leaves from the branches. Spread them on a cloth or paper out of direct sunlight in a cool, well-ventilated area.

Preserving and Maintaining Sage: Tips for Storage and Longevity

When crispy and dry, store the sage leaves in an air-tight dark container. You can also freeze the sage leaves. If you keep your sage plants over winter, make a light harvest in September, or the plant may be winter-killed. After the fourth year, the plant will become woody and less productive. The potency of the fragrance decreases markedly, so you should probably replace them.

Sage: from Culinary Delights to Companion Planting and Beyond

Sage has medicinal, aromatic, cosmetic, craft, dye, ornamental, culinary, and companion planting uses. It is lemony, camphor-like, and slightly bitter. 

Sage has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and is used in herbal medicine to help with sore throats, and indigestion, and improve memory and cognitive function.

Dried sage leaves can be used in bread, omelets, poultry stuffing, and marinades. Sage goes well with fish, beet pork, poultry, vegetables, eggs, and cheese. It is used as a natural preservative for meats, poultry, fish, and condiments.

Sage is a common ingredient in perfumes, soaps, lotions, aftershaves, and cosmetics. The foliage dries well and makes an excellent addition to herbal wreaths. In companion planting, you can plant sage with tomatoes, strawberries, cabbage, and carrots to enhance their growth. Sage flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, making it a beneficial plant to include in pollinator-friendly gardens.

Whether you're new to gardening or a pro, sage is a great choice for your garden. It's easy to grow, has many uses, and looks beautiful!

Shop Our Current Sage Selection

Visit our online shop for a wide variety of plants and trees, or come say hi at our store location in Tennessee!

We offer fast shipping nationwide so you can start transforming your garden today!

If you have any questions about sage or if you have any other plant needs, don’t hesitate to contact us at customerservice@tennesseewholesalenursery.com, we’d love to hear from you!
Lyreleaf Sage

Lyreleaf Sage

Lyreleaf Sage is a perennial wildflower characterized by its delicate, lyre-shaped leaves and spikes of tubular, purple to blue flowers, often found in dry, open woodlands and meadows. It presents a range of benefits when thoughtfully integrated into landscaping designs. Its distinctive appearance, adaptability, contributions to biodiversity, and potential for enhancing outdoor spaces' visual and ecological aspects make it a valuable addition to gardens and landscapes. One of the primary advantages of using it in landscaping is its unique and eye-catching appearance. Lyreleaf Sage has distinctive basal leaves, which resemble the shape of a lyre and add visual interest and texture. This unique leaf shape and the plant's vibrant green color create a dynamic element that can break up monotony and introduce variety to the landscape. Its adaptability to different light conditions makes it a versatile choice for landscaping. It can succeed in sun and shade, allowing landscapers to strategically place it in various parts of the garden to create a harmonious composition. Its ability to grow in multiple soil types further enhances its suitability for diverse landscape environments. Furthermore, it contributes to biodiversity within the landscape. Its flowers attract pollinators, supporting the ecosystem's health by promoting the reproduction of other plant species. This ecological contribution enhances the vibrancy and balance of the garden environment. Its low-maintenance nature adds to its appeal in landscaping projects. Once established, it typically requires minimal care, making it an attractive choice for gardeners seeking visually appealing and practical plants. Its natural resilience to pests and diseases further reduces the need for constant monitoring and interventions. In groups or clusters, it can create a charming ground cover or fill gaps within the landscape. Its spreading habit can help suppress weed growth, reducing the need for excessive weeding and contributing to a more manageable garden. In conclusion, it offers a range of benefits when integrated into landscaping designs. Its unique appearance, adaptability, contributions to biodiversity, low-maintenance nature, and potential for enhancing visual interest and ecological balance make it a valuable asset in outdoor environments. By thoughtfully incorporating it into landscape designs, one can create dynamic, visually appealing, and ecologically friendly spaces that engage the eye and the ecosystem. Order your Lyreleaf Sage from TN Nursery today! Lyreleaf Sage, scientifically known as Salvia lyrata, is a captivating herbaceous plant that graces the landscapes of North America with its elegant presence. This perennial wildflower belongs to the mint family, Lamiaceae, and is renowned for its ornamental value and ecological significance. It is a plant of subtle beauty, with its lance-shaped leaves characterized by deep green coloration and distinctively serrated edges. These leaves are held on slender, erect stems, which can grow from 1 to 3 feet in height. One of its most distinctive features is its leaves' striking resemblance to the strings of a lyre, from which it derives its common name. They form a basal rosette and are covered in fine, soft hairs that add to the plant's overall charm. Lyreleaf Sage Has Stunning Blooms In the spring and early summer, it produces tall, slender spikes of tubular, two-lipped flowers that vary in color from pale lavender to violet-blue. These blooms are a magnet for pollinators, making them a valuable addition to wildlife-friendly gardens. The nectar-rich flowers are aesthetically pleasing and contribute to the ecological balance by supporting local pollinator populations. Lyreleaf Sage Is very Hardy It is adaptable to various soil types, making it a resilient choice for cultivated gardens and natural landscapes. It thrives in partial to full sun, making it a versatile plant that can find a home in various environments. Its drought tolerance further adds to its appeal, requiring minimal maintenance once established. This native wildflower is not only a visual delight but also plays an essential part in regional ecosystems, providing food and habitat for wildlife while enhancing the overall biodiversity of the region. Its simple yet stunning and alluring appearance and ecological significance make Lyreleaf Sage a captivating option for nature enthusiasts and gardeners, adding enchantment to the natural world.

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