White sage is quite easy to grow. Although it has a low propagation rate, once the seedlings have been established, they require minimal maintenance. It flourishes whether planted indoors or outdoors. You can grow white sage indoors from seeds, seedlings, or cuttings as long as you provide the right conditions.
Below are specific steps for growing sage indoors and the step-by-step instructions for growing it from seeds, seedlings, or cuttings.
White Sage Growing Requirements
White sage requires well-drained soil that does not hold water. Sandy soil is the most ideal for this plant but it also does well in a mix of loam and sandy soil. You can make your soil mix by combing 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 sand soil, and 1/3 compost.
White sage needs full exposure to the sun and dies off if placed in the shade. In addition, it requires warm temperatures above 680 F.
Although white sage is a hardy plant that does well even in dry conditions, it requires frequent watering in the early stages of growth i.e., when germinating and after transplanting.
This plant does not require fertilizers to grow, but you can add a small amount of mushroom compost to boost its nitrogen levels.
How to Grow White Sage from Seeds
This is the most common method of growing white sage; however, sage seeds have a low germination rate of 20-30%. To increase your chances of successful germination, you need to plant more seeds than the number of plants you need in your garden.
What You Need
- Shallow tray or seed tray
- Sandy soil and compost mix or potting mix
- High-quality white sage seeds
1. Determine the right time to plant
White sage can grow throughout the year as long as you provide the necessary growth conditions. If you are relying on natural weather conditions, the best time to start the seeds is in the spring, when the weather is warm.
2. Get a planting container
It is best to plant sage seeds in small containers such as seed trays, peat pellets, six-packs, or small pots. Large containers retain water for longer which increases the plant’s susceptibility to fungus.
3. Plant the seeds
Add a white sage potting mix or soil to the container. Make ¼ inch deep rows in the soil and sprinkle in the white sage seeds. Cover them with a light layer of soil. Mist down the soil and seeds with a spray bottle or mister bottle. Avoid making the soil soggy by misting the soil only when it is dry.
Keep the starting container in an area that has full exposure to the sun, like near a large window. You can also place it in darker parts of the house such as the garage but set up a fluorescent grow light.
4. Allow the seed time to germinate
The white sage seeds should germinate within 2-3 weeks. Expect less than half of the planted seeds to germinate. If you started the seeds in pots or individual containers, you could allow the germinated seeds to continue growing where they are. If you planted them in seed trays, you would need to transplant the seedlings to larger containers.
How to Grow White Sage from Seedlings
To grow white sage from seedlings you may either start your own white sage seed and then transplant them or buy seedlings from a nearby nursery. Seedlings will be ready for transplanting once they have developed their first pair of true leaves.
What You Need
- White sage seedlings
- Potting mix
- Planting pot or container
1. Get a pot or planting container
The container should have holes at the bottom for enhanced soil drainage. Smaller pots and containers can only accommodate one sage plant at a time while larger pots can accommodate more than one plant.
2. Prepare the container for transplanting
Fill 1/3 of the pot with the soil mix and tap the pot gently on the sides to get rid of any air pockets in the soil.
3. Uproot the sage seedling
Use a trowel to mark about an inch of soil around the base of the plant. This enables you to gently pull out the seedling with a ball of soil, to prevent damage to the roots. If the roots are compact at the bottom, gently loosen them up. This enables the root to reestablish faster in the new container.
4. Set the sage seedling in the new container
Set the root ball on the soil in the middle of the container. Fill the spaces on the sides with soil up to the rim of the new pot or container. Gently press down the soil to pack it down.
5. Mist the potted plant
Mist the soil using a spray bottle or mister bottle until the soil is wet but not soggy. Strategically position the plant to receive full exposure to the sun or grow light.
Keep misting when the soil dries up. Once the transplanted seedling has established its roots system and developed a new set of leaves, minimizes the watering frequency by half or third. The white sage will continue to grow and develop in the coming months until it is ready for harvesting. If it outgrows the current pot, you will need to repot it.
How to Grow White Sage from Cuttings
If you have an already established white sage plant, you can grow new plants from cuttings. The best time to naturally propagate white sage from cuttings is during the early spring season. However, you can do it any other time during the active growing season of the plant as long as you provide the necessary growth conditions. This propagation method has a 20-30% success rate, similar to that of growing from seeds.
What You Need
- White sage cutting
- Planting pots or containers
- Potting mix or sand soil with compost
- Rooting hormone
1. Prepare a planting container
Typically, you need a 3-inch tall planting container or pot with drainage holes at the bottom. Fill it with the potting mix or soil.
2. Take a 5-6 inch cutting from your already established white sage plant
You could also buy white sage cuttings from your local nursery.
3. Prepare the cutting for planting
Remove 2-3 layers of leaves from the bottom end of the cutting. Next, dip the cutting in water and then into a rooting hormone. Rooting hormones are readily available on Amazon, in local nurseries, or gardening stores in powder or gel form.
Keep in mind that if you use a rooting hormone when propagating a plant from a cutting, you need to give it at least one year before consuming it.
4. Plant the cuttings
Make a hole in the soil with your index finger, all the way up to the base of your finger. Position the cutting in the middle of the hole and cover it with soil, leaving a few centimeters of the stem uncovered. Gently press the surrounding soil down to ensure that the plant is firmly in place. Mist the soil. Regularly mist the soil whenever it dries up.
5. Harden the plant
Place the planted cutting in a shaded area for 2-3 weeks to harden it. You may notice that the lower leaves are yellowing. Don’t worry, the plant is getting acclimated. Remove the yellowed leaves and keep watering the plant whenever necessary.
6. Transplant the plant
Once the roots have established and new leaves begin to sprout, you can gradually expose it to full sun and transplant it to a larger pot, if need be.
How Long Does White Sage Take to Grow?
White sage is an evergreen perennial crop. It is slow-growing and can take up to 3 years to mature. It grows to a height of 2-3 feet with a spread of 8 feet or more. The flower spikes add up to 2-3 feet in height. Their roots grow up to 4 inches deep.
How to Harvest White Sage
White sage is not ready for harvesting until it has fully settled in. This takes 2-3 years of vigorous growth. To harvest it, prune the leaves growing above the nodes. If not pruned, the nodes will continue to grow new shoots. Before storing white sage leaves, allow them to dry to prevent mildew infestation.
Pests and Diseases
Although white sage is quite hardy, there are a few pests and diseases that can affect it. These include aphids, red and black mites, whiteflies, powdery mildew, and root rot.
Aphids chew on white sage leaves while whiteflies, red and black mites suck out the sap. They can be deterred by applying neem oil on the white sage leaves. Excess water makes the plant susceptible to root rot and powdery mildew. As such, only water the plant when the soil is dry and avoid splashing water on the leaves.
Although white sage grows easily in the wild, it requires a little more care to grow indoors. Once established, it stays evergreen throughout the year with accelerated growth periods in the spring and summer seasons.