HOW TO GROW SAGE

How to grow sage




The garden sage - Salvia officinalis is a perennial, evergreen subshrub with a long history of medicinal and culinary use. Native to the Mediterranean region, although it has naturalized throughout Europe and north America, sage has a long history of medicinal and culinary use. In England it is listed as one of the one of the essential herbs, along with parsley, rosemary and thyme.

Garden sage illustration
It has a savoury, slightly peppery flavour and is an important herb in many European cultures notably Italian and Balkan. In British and American cooking, it is traditionally served as sage and onion stuffing, pork casserole, Sage Derby cheese and Lincolnshire sausages.

As you would expect sage is very easy to grow and will tolerate a wide range of conditions. However the closer you can get to its native environment the better its flavour will be for culinary purposes.

Sage will grow best in a site exposed to full sun for as much of the day as possible and planted into any rich well-drained soil. They will do better on alkaline soils but avoid any area that is prone to waterlogging.

Get the roots too wet and the plant will quickly suffer. In extreme cases the roots can be damaged to the point that will result in the death of the plant.

Avoid growing sage in densely planted areas as it can be susceptible to fungal infections such as mildew in wet climates. In fact it is almost impossible to avoid getting mildew in hot, humid weather. Instead make sure that there is plenty of space around it for good air circulation. If mildew does develop on your plant, try spraying it with horticultural oil or a sulphur spray.

Sage - Salvia officinalis
After about three to five years, the sage plant will start to become woody and straggly and will lose flavour from within its leaves. In this case you will need to consider replacing your old plant with a new, more vigorous specimen. You can either start again with a new plant or grow one from seed, or use the old plant for cuttings or layering.

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