It sits quietly on its bush ready to be used fresh or dried. Ready to pack a punch in sage and onion stuffing. Or combine nicely with butter and Parmesan to make a quick tasty pasta dish when there is nothing in the cupboard.
Not only is it useful in the kitchen but, as it is evergreen and has many different varieties, it also looks great in borders. There are plain green varieties, green with hints of purple, variegated green/white varieties, or even Tricolor varieties that have green, white and pink leaves. Something to suit any colour scheme.
It is quite usual to buy sage as a small plant from your Garden Centre. If you want to grow from seed or cuttings then these are both possible too. It will take longer but be more economical in the end.
Growing Sage from Seed
Sow your seeds into small pots in Spring - up to two weeks before the last frost date- and cover with a thin layer of perlite. Place in a propagator to germinate. Seeds can take up to three weeks to germinate. Continue to keep them moist but not over-watered until they have 3 pairs of true leaves. You can then move them to their final position.
Sage will grow happily in a herb planter or the ground. If planting in the garden, you will need a sunny spot which is sheltered from very strong winds. Dig the area over and weed well. Dig in plenty of well-rotted manure or compost before planting.
If you want to keep it in a pot - maybe to keep it close to the kitchen door. Plant in a 12" (20-45cm) pot filled with soil-based compost.
Growing from a Cutting
Use a sharp knife to cut off a young shoot about 2.5" (6 cm) below the leaf crown. Strip off the lower leaves so that the cutting is left with at least three pairs of leaves. Then plant the cutting into a 5" pot filled with compost and water it. Keep the soil moist and place it somewhere humid if you can. Once the roots have grown plant it out into its final position.
You can also put a cutting into a glass of water. After about 2 weeks the cutting should have developed sufficient roots so that it can be planted into a pot or directly outside.
Water plants regularly, especially during dry spells, but avoid overwatering as sage does not like wet roots. Putting your pots onto feet will help moisture drain and keep the plant happy. Pruning plants after flowering helps to maintain an attractive shape and encourages lots of new growth.
To protect the plant from the worst of winter weather and keep leaves in good condition use an Easy Fleece Jacket. Pop it over the plant and you will be able to pick whenever you need.
Early spring is a the best time to cut back sage. Don't cut before winter as the plant may struggle to get through the harsh weather.
Harvesting & Storage
During the first year, only harvest lightly (if at all) to allow the plant to become established. After that, the leaves can be picked at any time and used fresh. If you need to prune the bush or have a glut of leaves, dry or freeze the excess.
Pest & Diseases
Powdery Mildew: This will show as a white powdery deposit on the leaf surface. Leaves become stunted and shrivel. To avoid this keep the soil moist and if its in a pot try moving it to a cooler location.
Capsid bugs: Pale green, sap-sucking insects cause damage to the leaves. These are mainly active from late spring to the end of summer. Leaves develop many small, brown edged holes, and often become distorted. Plants will generally tolerate these. Check the plants regularly and remove any bugs you see.
Rosemary beetle: If you notice your leaves disappearing it will be either these beetles or their larvae. The beetles are small and oval with metallic green and purple stripes. The larvae is greyish white Again, check plants regularly and pick beetles off by hand.