Sage takes two years before use?

drayvenMarch 19, 2009

I read in an admittedly older garden book that sage grown from seed takes two years before you can use it and that buying a plant and spreading by division and cuttings is better.

Do you agree with that? I purchased some Broad Leaf Sage from Ferry-Morse and need to know whether or not to sow it or get a plant.

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

I grow sage from seeds and by the end of the fist summer its ready to harvest as its a sizable bush a little over a foot tall. The leaves are a bit sticky and fiberous, but it dries well, then you rub it between your hands to break it up. Not sure what sage type your wanting, but when I start from seeds it only lasts one growing season, and then dies after a hard frost.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 1:06AM
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Load of rubbish! Harvest leaves at any time when the plants are flourishing to be used fresh but before the flowering shoots develop in summer if they are to be dried. Take the stem tips with several sets of leaves. Cut in the morning after the dew has dried but before the heat of the afternoon. A mature plant can be cut back quite hard, but the golden rule is never to remove more than one-third of total growth of most plants at any one time.

In its natural habitat it is a short-lived perennial, best replaced after 3-4 years. It will behave differently in different habitats - as with any plant outside its comfort zone.

As for whether to get a plant or sow seed - that's entirely up to you. For myself, I'd get a plant - at least that way, if you live in a harsh climate and may lose the thing in a few month's time, you'll get some use out of it before the cold kills it! A plant is Instant Use, seeds are wait and see!

Seeds can be a bit thingy with sage - they usually germinate within 2 weeks with soil temps at 20C, but then again they could take as long as a month. They germinate more quickly if you refrigerate them for several weeks first (this is called stratifying - simulating a winter).

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 3:30AM
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I'm in zone 5, so your mileage may vary from mine. I have grown sage from seed many times. I don't harvest my seed- started sage the first year. I let the plant do its own thing so it can establish a wonderful root system. The following year, I can harvest as Daisy states, never more than a third of the plant at a time. Sage always come back for me, year after year. I find if I harvest seed-started sage the first year, before it really can develop a secure root system, that it will not last the winter. Also, sages are rather picky about drainage. Do not plant it where winter snows or ice from a roof will drip on it. It very easily develops crown rot, then you will have lost the plant.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 8:15AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

My sage from seeds has never survived a single winter. I guess its the type of sage. Its always been planted next to garlic chives and wild onions, and the area is well drained, and gets plenty of sun.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 10:18AM
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What are the disadvantages of planting new sage every year as if it was an annual?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 10:51AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Sage has a few varieties and some survive winters even below Z6. Mine doesn't, but thats not to say that if I find a sage type that is more winter hardy, and can come back every year, that I wouldn't get any to grow. Some sage does need many more months of warm weather to mature to a harvestable state. I start mine indoors in mid April, and its transplanted outside in June.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 12:33PM
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I grew up in lower Michigan and we had a sage bush that probably was 20 years old. I also have planted seeds and found the were bi-annuals. Wonderful plants but as soon as they bloomed all the plants died. I am have been taking cuttings from the plants I bought at "Wallyworld" and so far they are growning slowly as well as the cuttings I just "stuck" into soil las fall and they seem to be fine.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 11:43PM
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gardenmom2(IN Zone 6)

I think if you harvet the first year, it will be fine in the kitchen but will not survive winter. If you don't harvest the first year, the roots establish and it will survive. SO, I wuld maybe start a few plants, harvest on one or two and leave one or two alone. The two you leave alone will hopefully survive and be ready for harvest and to live a long life next year. My wallyworld plant from last year came back just fine, but I did not harvest on it much, just a couple leaves here and there. I have about three I think and all three came back.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 10:02AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

I started my sage indoors in pots. It was planted outside in June, and grew well all summer. I pluckled of some leaves. After we had a few frosts, it died out, never to return again. The plants were quite heathy at about 12 or more inches high. I guess some sage will grow through winters, but none of mine do.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 5:28PM
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I have the plant sold as garden sage that I planted on the south side of my house 15 years ago that has a wonderful "old west" type look. Most of the sages that are sold are not freeze hardy, found this out last year at a lecture, and should be treated as annuals in freeze areas. There for you can pick leaves to your hearts content because the plant will not be there next year. purple, varigated.

The "garden sage" you can pick the leaves as ksrogers mentioned above but you do not want to remove more than about a third of the leaves the first year. You can cut back to keep from being woody but having spent a summer in sagebrush country it reminds me of Wyoming.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 8:23PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

"Why should a man die whilst Sage grows in his garden?" - anon.

I've grown sage from seed by direct sowing. The plants were small by the end of the first season because they didn't get a head start but they were strong and healthy plants that did well in successive seasons. I've never started them indoors.

I do not harvest the first year plants. Like herbalbetty, I let the plants establish themselves. My harvest will be better in the future for it!

As far as planting sage as an annual, why? It will come back bigger and with a greater harvest the next year. I also find the violet-blue flowers, that you will first see in the 2nd year, very appealing - and so do the bumblebees since that is one of their favorite colored flowers to visit.

As far as the seems to vary widely for me. I've had them do well for 10+ years and others poop-out after 2. I have found that the plants that I regularly clip (starting at the 2nd year) have greater longevity for me. I never harvest more than 1/3 of the plant and usually only take out the center couple of leaf pairs from the stems. Maybe it's coincidence but they seem to be more robust and have greater longevity for me with regular clipping.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 6:14PM
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The reason that I plant the purple and varigated sages and treat them as annuals is because they are too tender for my region.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 10:11PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

I don't plant the purple and variegated varieties but the regular, green garden sage is hardy enough to over winter in your zone. You have to locate it where the drainage will be good through the winter otherwise it will rot and die. I've grown it for more than 15 years without any winter die-off and I live in Western NY State - lots of cold, snow, and ice in the winter here.

If you are looking for a source, the regular sage that Richters sells does quite nicely here. I bought a plug-pack of it from them 3 years ago. I haven't lost one of the plants and I have them in one of the colder and more exposed spots at my place. Temperature-wise we are zoned similarly and you might be able to overwinter the standard variety. I find the older plants to have more character and structure in the garden beds as well as flowers and an increased harvest - makes them worth a shot in my opinion. :)


    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 9:42AM
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