Updated December 13, 2021 by Mark Marino
Salvia officinalis, more commonly known as ‘common sage’, is a cold-hardy herb that features lovely bluish or purplish flowers. A favorite for perennial gardens, sage is not only a breeze to grow outside; it’s easy to grow sage indoors too. The sage plant has a long history of use as a kitchen herb and medicinal plant. A member of the mint family along with other herbs like basil and oregano, sage boasts an earthy flavor that makes it popular for seasoning poultry dishes like roast chicken, turkey, and dressing. Here, we’ll explore how to grow sage indoors so you can enjoy its intense flavor and attractive foliage year-round.
Types of Sage
Growing sage begins with a choice; you’ll need to choose between various types of sage plants. While common sage is most popularly grown indoors and grows to about 12 inches in height, there are other cultivars that you may prefer to plant. Common garden sage features pale green, downy leaves, other sage plants sport different colored foliage or have a different growth habit. You’ll find ornamental sage plants, annual sage, and both blooming and non-blooming varieties.
Purple sage is a drought-tolerant plant that features purple leaves when the plant is young. Don’t confuse purple sage with ornamental purple sage, a more common garden sage likely carried by your local garden center. Plain old purple sage is one of the varieties that blooms the least.
Golden sage is a creeping sage plant that features green and gold variegated foliage, which give it a dynamic look. Unlike common sage with its well-behaved upright growth habit, golden sage is a creeping variety that is drought tolerant and celebrated for attracting garden butterflies.
Pineapple sage boasts pinkish-red flowers in the fall and an unmistakable pineapple scent. Though a cold-hardy herb (to 20 degrees Fahrenheit), it’s also a great candidate for growing sage indoors, especially if you fancy a pina colada in March and harvest sage leaves from your plant for a flavorful garnish!
Growing Sage Indoors: Supplies
To grow sage successfully, opt to obtain the following supplies:
- Sage seeds (or sage stem cuttings)
- Clay pot (about 8 inches tall)
- Potting soil
- Artificial light (if needed)
- Indoor garden kit
Planting Sage Indoors
To begin, you can either plant sage seeds or start growing sage indoors with stem cuttings. A cutting will grow more quickly, so you’ll be able to harvest sage leaves in a shorter period of time. However, growing sage from seeds is not difficult. You’ll want to fill your pot with moist potting soil. Clay is the best type of container for growing sage because it’s porous and will allow moisture to more quickly evaporate. Sage plants do not care for excess moisture or they’ll be subject to root rot.
Next, sprinkle your sage seeds on the top of the pot and cover with a light dusting of your potting mix. Place your container in a sunny window and be sure that the temperature is at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure germination. When growing sage from a cutting, you may want to start it in rooting hormone before transplanting it to your container.
Caring for Your Sage Plant
Common garden sage is a low-maintenance plant, so you shouldn’t be overtaxed with its care. For best results, follow these care tips:
Indoor sage will need a sunny window and approximately 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. You can also use artificial light to grow sage. If you use grow lights, aim for 12-16 hours of light.
Commercial potting mix is typically fine for growing sage. Be sure that you grow sage is well-draining soil, however.
Sage is drought-tolerant. Avoid overwatering this plant and only water as needed. Try to keep the soil moist but not saturated or your plant can become vulnerable to root rot or powdery mildew.
Since garden sage is a perennial cold hardy herb, it will tolerate your home’s room temperature with little problem. Keep in mind that your plants will grow faster in warmer temperatures. If conditions are dry in your home, you may want to use a humidifier to support the plant with some beneficial humidity.
Sage, even potted sage, is not fond of strong fertilizer, unlike many other herbs. If you like, you can add some coconut coir to its pot to ensure it has plenty of nutrients, but it’s not necessary when growing sage indoors.
How to Harvest Sage
You can harvest sage leaves during their first year of growth (usually, after about three months), but do so only lightly. This will trigger more plant growth. Once your plant is mature, you can harvest sage leaves as needed. To harvest sage, snip off sage leaves just above the node using sharp scissors. After four to five years, some gardeners opt to replace their garden sage with its woody stems with new plants because the leaves may begin to lose their intense flavor.
While fresh herbs can be used in your favorite sage recipes, you may also opt for dried sage. You can dry sage leaves by simply allowing them to dry out in a cool, dry place. You can also bake them in your oven. Once dry, you can crinkle them up for storage in a glass jar or other airtight container.
What Are the Uses and Benefits of Sage?
Sage flavor makes the plant ideal for use in poultry dishes. If the herb’s flavor is robust, you can try frying the herb to mellow out its taste and then sprinkle it on your dishes, including sauces, marinades for meats, or root vegetables. Since ancient times, sage has also been used medicinally to treat digestive complaints such as heartburn and bloating. Like other herbs of the mint family, sage is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients. With its natural antimicrobial properties, it may even support optimum dental health.
Does sage grow well in pots?
Yes, potted sage is easy to grow indoors using the tips outlined above. Just be sure to keep its soil moist but not overwatered and see to its sunlight needs.
Does sage grow year-round indoors?
Yes, you can grow sage indoors year-round. Ideally, opt for dwarf species of sage if you have a small area for your indoor garden. On the other hand, common sage has a lovely growing habit and does not typically exceed 12 inches in height. You can also prune sage if it begins to grow profusely.