How to Grow Sage Indoors
Every time I hear anyone talk about sage I get transported back in time to Christmas dinners when the whole family was congregated in one spot. My mom and aunts would make a succulent turkey with all the trimmings and of course that included some sage for flavor. To this day I still love the faint pine scent of sage and the memories it invokes. It’s a great addition to any poultry dish and many others as well.
If you love sage as much as I do perhaps you’ve thought about growing it yourself. You can grow it outside in many climates as it’s quite a hardy herb, but if you live in the northern latitudes things get a little tougher. On the plus side this is a plant that also grows quite well in pots.
We have three or four potted plants on our home. There’s really no comparison between store bought sage and the flavorful plants you can grow yourself. Read on if you’re ready to give it a try yourself for some helpful tips to get you started.
Lots of Light is a Must
There aren’t too many plants that don’t love the sunlight and sage is no different. If you’re going to try growing it inside you have to first figure out where you’re going to keep it so that it will receive lots of light during the day. Near a window or a set of glass patio doors is ideal.
Sage normally needs somewhere between 6 and 8 hours a day of sunlight. If you’re going to try and continue growing your sage right through the winter months you may want to consider an artificial sun lamp as well to make up the difference.
It stands to reason that a plant that needs lots of light is probably going to need warm temperatures to thrive as well and that’s definitely the case when it comes to sage. If you’re planning on moving your pots outside on the patio when spring arrives just make sure to make sure the frosty nights are definitely over.
This plant needs temperatures at or above 70 degrees Fahrenheit if it’s going to do well. Anything less than that is really asking for trouble. Don’t take any chances with your sage – try to maintain consistent temperatures.
Water Moist drought resistant
Plants need moisture. That’s not up for debate. Even the hearty desert cactus needs some water – it’s just well adapted to preserving as much as possible. The sage herb is no cactus, but it is relatively drought resistance.
It will survive and even do well on much less water than other herbs you may be growing. It’s best to try and keep the soil of your plants somewhat moist, but not overly damp. Try to avoid watering the leaves though, as this can cause mildew and could potentially ruin your plants. It’s better to play it safe and water around the base of the plant.
Where to Start
While the choice is yours it’s probably best not to grow sage from seedlings unless you happen to be one of the lucky ones gifted with an exceptional green thumb.
For the rest of us it’s best to use clippings from an adult plant, or better yet purchase a recently matured plant from your local garden center. This will save a lot of frustration and give you the best chance of success. If you do decide to go the clipping route they should be about 3 inches in length for the best results. It will also save you time if you opt for clippings or a full grown plant.
Soft Soil is Ideal
You’ll want to avoid thick dense soils when choosing the soil for the pots you’ll plant your sage in. As we’ve already mentioned it’s a herb that does well when it isn’t over watered and if you go with a sandy loamy soil you’ll get better drainage and avoid the potential for drowning your plants.
You still have to be careful how much water you give your sage even if you use the right soil, but you have a better chance if you choose one of the sandy loamy varieties.
Avoid Over Fertilizing
I have a few friends who just live to fertilize their lawn and their plants. For some of them it’s what I’d call borderline obsessive behaviour. You don’t want to do this when you’re growing sage. Sage is a herb that only needs minor amounts of fertilizer.
In fact, over fertilizing sage is likely to dull the flavors and aromas it produces. Some fertilizer is okay – just make sure you don’t overdo it if you want to have tasty sage for your poultry at Christmas time.
Some Room to Grow
You can grow sage in any size plant you want, but if you want the best results you need to give it some space to grow. When grown outside sage typically needs to spaced about 24 inches apart from other plants.
This might seem a little large for indoor plants, but if you have the room and a place to put them why not go for it? You’ll likely end up with the best tasting sage you’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. At a minimum you should be planting sage in pots that are at least 12 inches in diameter.
If you’ve ever seen sage grown in the wild you probably noticed how much different it looked from the plants cultivated in your garden. Chances are it wouldn’t taste nearly as good either. If you let it, sage will run a bit wild and the herbs it produces will have a bit of a woody flat taste.
For the best results you need to prune your sage plants regularly to rid them of any overgrowth – if you do this every two or three weeks that should be more than enough. Growing sage at home can be a bit of a challenge, but if you follow the guidelines above you should have a lot of success.