Sage, to me, is the prettiest of all the cullinary herbs (except perhaps flowering basil). I mean, those lush gray-green leaves almost look too good to eat! 

Like many of our other Mediterranean herbs, sage is easy to grow for home gardeners and adapts well to different environments. If you give it some shade, it’s good. It it gets full sun, it’s good.

If you give it a ton of room, it’ll grow into sprawling shrub that’s two to three feet wide. If you give it just a little bit of room (like in a container garden), it’ll fill out whatever space it can. Sage can also handle scorching hot temps and even light to moderate freezes like a champ. 

Speaking of hot temps, you just might be treated to charming light pink or purple flowers in the summer. These flowers not only attract pollinators, they also hold a special surprise when they dry out: sage seeds for you to save for next year!

Let’s look at how to grow sage from seed. 

This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a small profit when you click on the link and purchase my recommendations. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks for supporting my small business! 

How to Plant Sage Seeds. Learn everything you need to grow sage from seed to harvest.

WHERE TO BUY SAGE SEEDS TO PLANT IN YOUR GARDEN

Unlike basil, there aren’t many sage varieties to purchase, usually just common sage, also known as garden sage or culinary sage. There are 4 color varieties you might find: common green sage, purple sage, golden sage, and tricolor sage. They’re all just as pretty as they are delicious, so you can’t go wrong.

You can find sage seeds at local plant nurseries or online from reputable companies like Botanical Interests or Renee’s Garden. One packet is all you need to fill your garden with sage plants.

WHEN TO PLANT SAGE SEEDS

The best time to plant sage seeds is in early spring. You can get a head start on the growing season by starting sage seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before your last frost date in the late winter or spring. If you prefer to plant sage seeds outdoors, the best time to direct sow them is after the danger of frost has passed. Sage thrives in cool spring weather. 

If you live in a mild climate where the ground doesn’t freeze over winter, you can even plant sage in the fall. Just be sure to get your sage planted a good 6-8 weeks before your first frost of the fall/winter season so your plants will have some time to get established in your garden. 

Sage is considered a hardy perennial and will come back each year if you live in gardening zones 5 through 8. Here in Central Texas (zone 8), my sage slows its growth but continues to produce throughout the winter. In zones 9 or further south, you might have to treat sage as an annual herb, replacing your plants after hot, humid summers. 

LGS Garden Planner & Journal

Simplify the process of planning, organizing, and documenting your vegetable garden.

$12

WHERE TO PLANT SAGE

Sage is not picky about where it grows. I love to grow sage in my raised garden bed, which is filled with great, loamy soil, but you can also do an in-ground vegetable garden or container garden. The ideal location will have well-draining soil, so I recommend amending the soil in the ground with some compost and/or coarse sand before planting sage. 

If you’re doing a container, go with something at least 6″ deep, and make sure it has a good drainage hole. I recommend growing sage alongside other perennial herbs like rosemary, oregano, and thyme in a wide container. Herbs tend to be less needy when they’re growing in a larger space with some of their herb friends. 

Sage only needs at least 4 hours of sun a day to produce leaves for you to harvest. During hot weather, it’s best to grow sage in a spot that gets late afternoon shade. 

sage plant growing in the ground and is flowering purple flowers.

HOW TO GROW SAGE FROM SEED

Growing sage from seeds is a bit easier compared to other herbs. For one, sage seeds are a tad larger, which makes them easier to handle. Plus, they’re quick to sprout once in the soil (usually 7-14 days depending on conditions).

How to Start Sage Indoors

To start sage seeds indoors, you’ll need some seed starting containers, organic seed starting mix, and a grow light. Follow these three steps.

Step One

Fill your seed starting containers with moistened seed starting mix. Plant 1-2 sage seeds per cell 1/4″ deep, and cover gently with seed starting mix.

Step Two

Keep seed trays covered with a plastic lid, burlap or even plastic wrap to keep the soil moist until the sage seeds sprout. Once sprouted, remove this cover and place the seedlings under a grow light. Keep the light about 2″ above the seedlings. If two seeds sprout, pinch off the smaller seedling and keep the stronger-looking seedling. Make sure your seedlings have good air circulation by using a miniature fan to blow gently in their growing area. Keep the soil moist.

Step Three

Once the weather is warming up, it’ll be time to harden off your sage seedlings by taking them outside for a few hours each day. Start with an hour on day 1, and keep the seedlings in the shade. Each day over the next week, increase time outdoors as you move plants from partial shade to full sun.

Check out our seed starting guide for more tips.

How to Plant Sage Seeds in Pots

Fill your pot with organic potting soil mixed with compost, and make holes that are just 1/4″ deep and spaced every 6″ to 12″ apart. Place 1 to 2 seeds per hole, and cover gently with soil. Water in gently. Keep the soil in your pot moist until sage sprouts. Keep in mind that terra cotta pots will dry out very quickly, so you’ll need to check on the soil moisture every day. 

How to Plant Sage Seeds in Raised Beds

Sage grows really well from seed in the well-drained soil of a raised bed. When picking a spot to sow sage seeds, just make sure the little seedlings will have access to sunlight when they pop up. Prepare the planting site with 1″-2″ of compost to give your plants a little boost of nutrition. 

Make planting holes that are 1/4″ deep and spaced every 6″ to 12″ apart. Place 1 to 2 seeds per hole, and cover with soil. Water in gently. Keep the soil moist until your seeds germinate. 

sage plant growing in a terra cotta pot outdoors with a plant label titled sage.

HOW TO GROW SAGE INDOORS

Sage herbs make easy indoor plants if you have a south or west-facing window that gets plenty of bright light. Don’t water your sage pot until the soil feels dry about 2″ down (the best way to check is just to stick your finger into the soil). The fastest way to kill indoor herbs is by overwatering them (that means watering them too often) and causing the soil to be waterlogged.

Another option would be to grow sage in an Aerogarden or similar. Learn more about growing herbs hydroponically.

HOW TO CARE FOR SAGE PLANTS

Sage plants are super easy to tend—very beginner friendly.

 

Watering Sage

Make sure you sage plant has good drainage. Sage is drought tolerant and does best when watered only after the top 1″-2″ of soil dry out. Watering before that risks overwatering your sage. Aim water at the base of the plant and not the leaves to avoid fungal diseases.

 

Fertilizing Sage

Herbs don’t need a ton of extra nutrients. You can apply an all purpose organic fertilizer like MicroLife Multi-Purpose each spring. Another option would be to apply some fresh compost to the soil surface every few months.

Pruning

At the end of winter or whenever your sage plant is looking too woody (lots of tall stems with smaller leaves), it’s time for a trim. Snip away the older growth with a clean pair of pruners to make room for fresh, new growth. Don’t be afraid to give sage a heavy pruning. It’ll bounce back.

Even with consistent pruning, sage can become too woody after growing in your garden for a couple of seasons. When the plants are no longer producing harvestable leaves or looking their best, it’s time to dig them up and start fresh with new plants.

small sage plant in a small container ready to be planted and cared for.

HOW TO GROW SAGE PLANTS FROM ROOT CUTTINGS

Once your plants are thriving in your garden, you can take some cuttings and make even more sage plants. (This is also a great way to get free sage plants if you don’t want to start them from seed. Just ask a friend or neighbor for some stem cuttings from their plants. Most gardeners are more than happy to share!) 

Find a nice, bendy stem on a mature plant and take a cutting that’s 3″-4″ long. Strip any leaves on the lower portion of the cutting. To root the cutting, trim the bottom on a 45° angle. If you have rooting hormone, dip the stems in the powder. Add the stems to a glass or jar filled with a 1/2″ or so of fresh water. Place the cuttings out of direct light. Refresh the water periodically.

Each little cutting should start developing roots. Give them 4-6 weeks to grow roots before you plant them outside. Give it another month or so for your freshly rooted sage to grow big enough for your first harvest.

cuttings of sage in the kitchen on a cutting board.

HOW TO HARVEST SAGE LEAVES

You can begin harvesting sage once the roots have established and your plant is 6″ or so tall. It’s best to take small weekly harvests from your sage plant. Regular harvests encourage your plants to branch out, which means they’ll produce more leaves for you to harvest later. My general rule is to never harvest more than a third of a plant at one time.

To harvest sage, you can just use your fingers to pick individual leaves. If you’re wanting to harvest entire stems, a clean pair of scissors works perfectly.

Whatever leaves you don’t use for fresh culinary use can be dried for later.

How to Store Sage Leaves

Store fresh sage leaves in a damp paper towel in the fridge or add fresh stems to a glass of water like a bouquet of flowers. You can also dry sage leaves for long-term storage. Just dry the sprigs by tying the stems together with some twine or a rubber band and hanging them upside down in a cool, well-ventilated area. You can also snip off sage leaves and let them dry flat on some parchment paper. Place dried leaves in a tightly sealed jar until you’re ready to use them.

How to Use Sage Leaves in the Kitchen

I love fresh sage on homemade pizzas with some spicy prosciutto and honey—so flavorful! Sage also works really well in pasta, stews, and meat rubs.

hand harvesting sage leaves from a sage plant grown indoors in a small container.

Time to harvest your own fresh leaves!

Planting sage in your kitchen or herb garden means adding a touch of beauty to your space and a whole bunch of flavor to your meals! If you’re just dipping your toes into gardening, starting with herbs, especially sage, is a fantastic idea. With just a little bit of tending, you’ll soon be gathering enough leaves to enjoy fresh and save for a year-round supply. Say farewell to store-bought sage—you’ll have the best flavor right outside your door or saved in your spice cabinet!

Here’s to many more harvests of those lush sage leaves in your gardening journey!