Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

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Choosing to Grow Sage from Seeds or Seedlings

Sage seedlings

Getting your sage garden started begins with the choice of how to grow your plants—from seeds or seedlings? Buying seedlings at your local nursery is quicker and easier, but your choices are limited to what they carry, and the cost of seedlings will likely exceed the cost of starting from seeds. Sage is easier to grow from seedlings than seeds, but you can direct sow so long as you wait until after the last frost and choose a sunny location. Most gardeners find it’s easier and faster if you start your seeds indoors and transplant to the garden when it’s safe.

When growing from seeds, you’ll need the right tools and a disciplined process for getting from seeds to plants that will produce a good harvest for you.

Besides your seeds, necessary tools might include:

  • Starting soil
  • Growing medium
  • Containers
  • Widger (a spatula-like tool for lifting seedlings without damaging them)
  • Germination station
  • Grow lights
  • Heat mats

Depending on your set-up situation, you might not need all of these items—or you might be able to do-it-yourself (DIY) on some things. If you choose to grow your sage from seeds, take advantage of all the options to select the varieties that you really want.

One of the easiest ways to start a sage plant for your garden is to propagate it from cuttings or by layering.

For cuttings, clip each stem three inches from the tip with a sharp pair of scissors or a knife. Be sure to clip from the greenish, tender stem part, not the thick, woody, older stem. Submerge the stem in soilless growing medium or a small container of water. Strip off any leaves that would be below the surface. At least one-third of the stem should be above the surface. Keep the cuttings in a warm place (many people loosely cover the cuttings with a plastic bag). If using growing medium, keep it moist, but not saturated. Roots should form in two to six weeks, at which point you can transfer to potting soil where a root ball can form.

To propagate by layering, take a stem and use gardening wire to pin the stem down onto the soil. Roots will start to form along the stem in about a month. Cut the newly rooted plant away from the main plant and transfer the new plant to a pot or its own spot in the garden

Have you tried growing sage from seeds, seedlings, or propagation? Which method do you prefer—and why? Please tell us how you get your herb garden started every year.

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