Growing Sage: The Healing Herb

Growing herbs in your garden is not only ornamental, but also practical. They can be used to fill your spice racks and enhance your cooking with aromatic seasoning. The sage, or salvia officinalis is a popular meat and poultry seasoning. This versatile shrub is not only a popular spice, but can also be used in making wreaths and other crafts. It is also believed to have healing properties. Ancient Greeks used sage to cure consumption, flatulence, ulcers, memory loss, snake bites and even broken bones.

Sages are hardy perennials. They can tolerate most conditions as long as they are provided with sunlight and proper drainage. Be prepared to wait if planting sage from seed. It would take about 2 weeks to grow to mature size. Sow sage seeds indoors for about 6-8 weeks in early spring. Ideal temperatures can be about 15-21°C (60-70°F). The seeds will take about 3 weeks to germinate. Sage can be transplanted outside after 4 weeks, avoiding frost as much as possible. They should be about 45-60cm (18-24 inches) apart. Sage can withstand winters, to about -12°C (10°F). Young plants can be protected from frost by covering them with straw to keep warmth in. Cut back the foliage in winter and cover the roots with a thick layer of mulch.

If growing sage from cuttings, plant it in compost. Rooting will take about 4 weeks. The easiest way to plant sage would be to buy young sage plants in pot. As long as the frost is over, they can be planted directly outside. Sage likes full sun and will tolerate any soil as long it is properly drained. Sage can also be planted in a container. Layer the bottom of the pot with stones for drainage. Fill the pot with potting compost then transplant your sage cuttings or young plant. Place the pot near the windowsill to let it absorb direct sunlight. It can be fed with general all purpose liquid plant food every month.

Growing herbs requires proper pruning and picking in order to grow healthy. Sage can be pruned after the flowers die. This can stimulate more growth. They should be pruned to half its size. Do not pick sage leaves before it reached about 20cm (8 inches). Also, avoid picking sage on colder months as this would damage the plant. If taken cared of properly, sage can grow to about 1 meter or 3 feet.

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