Growing the Mediterranean medicinal and culinary herbs in your own garden? We’ll show you what to look for when growing sage. Even if it’s home in the Mediterranean – in our cooler latitudes the sage ( Salvia officinalis ) can be cultivated just as successfully. This is not only worthwhile for the kitchen, but also for your health, because its pronounced healing powers have been known since ancient times. Hence its generic name Salvia is derived. It is derived from the Latin “salvare” – which means “to heal”. In order to grow the medicinal herb productively, however, a few small things must be observed.
Growing sage – step by step
When it comes to the soil, the sage still has Mediterranean demands: it should be stony and permeable to water. Pay attention to the pH value of the soil with sage. If this is too acidic, lime should be added to provide the plant with an optimal environment. The sage is also a sun worshiper: it is happy about a location in full sun and thanks to it with more lush growth. He also likes to waste heat from nearby walls.
In spring, the sage seeds can be spread from March to April. The dainty seedlings should always be grown in a warming cold frame or, even better, on the windowsill. When all the frosts are over in mid-May, you can plant the young plants outdoors.
3. Propagation by cuttings and division:
The best success in propagating sage is achieved by dividing an older plant. The use of materials to create a progeny is very high here. It is best to split the sage stick in March or after flowering in August. The medicinal herb can also be propagated through well-using cuttings. Cuttings with at least three pairs of leaves can be cut in May and June. Only shoot tips should be used that neither begins to lignify nor already have a flower bud. In the beginning, when propagating cuttings, it is important to create an environment with increased humidity. A simple trick: cut off the bottom of a PET bottle and put it over the pot with the cutting.
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4. Watering and fertilizing:
Weekly fertilization of the sage with a complete nutrient fertilizer is recommended. However, do not start until after the buds have sprouted and only fertilize until the onset of flowering. Too frequent fertilization and the supply of nutrients in autumn tend to result in a reduced aroma and a lack of winter hardiness.
5. Winter storage:
The sage is relatively hardy. Nevertheless, preventive protection against the cold should be made. Above all, the ornamentation of the yellow and purple-leaved varieties is often at the expense of frost resistance.
From spring onwards, leaves can be continuously removed from the sage plant. Whole shoots can also be harvested. However, not too much leaf material should be removed at once. Sage should not be harvested after flowering, as leaves and shoots will stop growing after flowering.
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Radical pruning in spring or autumn is not recommended for younger plants. Here the plant should be kept in shape in connection with the permanent harvesting of shoots. In the case of old, heavily woody plants, on the other hand, a topiary is recommended in autumn after flowering or in spring. Half of the shoot length should be shortened.
Fresh utilization always delivers the best taste experience, of course. Flavors are always lost through storage. But the sage can be stored and preserved very well compared to other herbs. In the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp kitchen towel, it can be used for up to two weeks. Drying the sage by hanging it up works, but there is a lot of loss in taste. Not yet a common practice for sage, but the number one preservation method for this herb: freezing.