Sage is present in almost every herb garden around the globe. The aroma and benefits of this plant make it one of the most popular herbs in the world.
People usually don’t have problems growing this herb. Sage is such a strong plant that it doesn’t require any type of special treatment.
When propagating sage, gardeners have two options: they can either grow the plant from seed, or they can use stem cuttings of an existing sage plant instead.
In general, both ways are not challenging and won’t require much effort on your part. As I always say, though, you should know the rules if you’re going to play the game.
So, in this article, I’m going to discuss how to propagate sage from seed and from cuttings. Then I’ll leave you to choose which method suits you best.
Propagating Sage from Seed
Propagating seeds is very different from caring for an adult plant. There are several important steps in this activity that you need to really focus on.
Obtaining the Seeds:
It’s always important to purchase the best seeds available in the market, or else you’d be losing time trying to grow seeds that don’t have the ability to germinate in the first place.
I get my premium sage seeds from Amazon and they germinate amazingly. You can find the ones I use here:
Sow Right Seeds – Sage Seeds
Stratification is a way to stimulate winter for some seeds that require a period of cold weather to germinate.
Sage seeds germinate far better if they are stored at a low temperature for a few weeks before being sowed.
To stratify your seeds, you need a Ziploc® bag and some sterilized sand (you can sterilize sand by baking it in an oven at 300°F [150°C]).
Fill the bag with some of the sand, then add the seeds and shake gently. Store the seeds in the fridge at a temperature of 40°F (4.5°C) for a few weeks.
Preparing the Medium:
Sage seeds are prone to damping off, which is a disease that kills or prevents seeds from germinating.
Damping off is caused by some species of microorganisms that are usually found in some soils. For that reason, you shouldn’t use regular soil to germinate your seeds.
Instead, you need to use a seed-starting mix, which is devoid of the pathogens that can harm your seed.
Many high-quality seed-starting mixes are available in the market today, which can ensure that your seeds will grow strong and healthy.
After you have the seed-starting material, moisten it, and then have some trays or pots and fill them with the mix up to a few millimeters below the rim.
Sowing the Seeds:
Sow three to four seeds on top of each container so that in the worst-case scenario you will get at least one seedling from each pot. Afterward, cover the containers with plastic wrap to keep everything inside well moistened.
Uncover the containers for a few hours a day to allow the seeds to breathe, and before you cover them again, make sure that the mix didn’t lose a lot of moisture.
Seeds Growing Conditions:
While some gardeners assert that common sage, or Salvia officinalis, needs light to germinate, experiments show that the opposite is true. Common sage seeds’ germination rate might in fact be reduced by light exposure.
On the other hand, meadow sage, or Salvia pratensis, needs light to germinate unlike many other types of sage.
The best temperature for sage germination is 60°F (about 15°C).
At this temperature, the sage germination rate can reach 90%, which is just beyond excellent!
Nonetheless, a temperature in the range of 50°F (10°C) to 70°F (21°C) is always good for the seeds.
Looking After Seedlings:
After 15 to 20 days, your sage seeds will start to sprout, and seedlings will emerge.
Right now you need to start taking new steps to ensure proper growth of the young seedlings.
As soon as the first seedling appears, you need to wait a few days until all the other sprouting seeds have grown their seedlings too.
Then remove the plastic wrap because your plants now need to breathe constantly to begin growing.
In general, seedlings need maximum amounts of light. At this point, I advise you to get a full spectrum LED to aid their growth.
A sunny location in your house might work, but it’s always preferable to take no chances or else your plants would grow weak, elongated, and susceptible.
You need balance when you water your sage seedlings. Too much water might immediately kill them, so wait until the soil appears to be dry before you water them.
When the seedlings start to develop their second set of leaves, it means it’s time to move them to a wider container.
Choose a high-quality, well-drained soil to fill the new pots, and then transfer the seedlings there gently by holding from their leaves.
Congratulations! Now you have your sage plants ready to grow. Starting from seedlings, sage needs nearly 2 years of growth to fully reach adult size.
Propagating Sage from Cuttings
Growing sage from stem cuttings is a very reliable method in case you already have a plant.
Taking the Cuttings:
You can take cuttings from your sage plant whenever you want as long as you’re not trimming it heavily. It’s also preferable to take them in the morning so that they don’t wilt quickly.
The stem you’re going to take should be around 4–5 inches (10–13 cm) long. This is a favorable length for rooting.
Make sure that the stem cutting is tender and green, especially at the top, which means it has the ability to produce new growth.
Remember to use sharp pruning shears so that you don’t create unwanted tears in the plant.
Take the cutting just below a leaf node, where the growth buds that are able to reveal new roots are found.
Preparing the Cuttings:
Remove the leaves at the bottom, and leave the first set or two sets of leaves growing at the top.
Dip the bottom of the stem in a rooting hormone. This step is very important since sage roots poorly without a hormone.
You can find the highest quality rooting hormone, which I always use, here on Amazon:
Clonex Rooting Gel
Immersing the Cuttings:
We also need small pots or trays for this activity, and we need fast-draining light soil that allows the roots to easily spread through the medium.
After you fill the containers, make a hole in the soil, and then immerse the stem into it and gently press the soil around the cutting.
Caring for Cuttings:
Sage cuttings need a very humid environment to grow some roots. So, you need to cover the containers with a transparent plastic bag after you moisten the soil moderately.
Keep the containers in a warm area away from direct sunlight but not necessarily in darkness.
Depending on the conditions and your luck, full rooting of sage cuttings will take from several weeks to a couple of months. It’s preferable to wait for a month or two before you transplant the plants unless they appear to be growing vigorously.
That’s it! Now you know how to propagate sage. Enjoy it and don’t forget to share your questions and thoughts in the comments below!