The medicinal properties of the herbaceous sage plants have been known since ancient times. Its versatility makes it an extremely popular plant in the herb garden, but the European garden sage – Salvia officinalis – can also be cultivated without any problems as a container plant on the balcony or terrace. The aromatic leaves of the labiates can be harvested all year round and dried if necessary. Note, however, that not all of the 1,100 different types of sage are edible.

Choosing the optimal location and soil

The versatile plant comes with some requirements regarding its planting location and the substrate:

  • Need a full sun, warm location.
  • Lean, well-drained limestone soil is preferred.
  • Soil should be moderately moist to dry.

Avoid places that are too dark, because without direct sunlight the essential oils in the leaves can only insufficiently develop.

Watering and fertilizing

In order to optimally support the rapid growth of the mint family, which comes from the Mediterranean region, you should avoid waterlogging. The Mediterranean medicinal plant, on the other hand, can withstand a longer dry season unscathed.

Salvia officinalis is not a heavily draining plant, which is why the additional supply of nutrients is not necessarily required for outdoor cultivation. It is sufficient here to mix the substrate with a large amount of compost in spring and autumn.

Tip: Mix lava chippings or potsherds under the soil. This means that the excess water can drain away more quickly.

Cultivation and plants

The heat-loving crops can be moved outdoors from the end of April. Pay attention to a suitable location and loosen the soil additionally with compost and lava chippings. The dug planting hole should be twice as wide as the root ball of the sage. This allows the plant to develop optimally.

For the sage, it doesn’t matter whether you use calcareous tap water for watering. And even those who cannot call their own garden do not have to do without the medicinal plant. Sage can also be cultivated in pots without any problems. To avoid waterlogging, create a drain on the bottom of the pot. Moderate fertilization and watering is important.


Salvia in pots needs to be transplanted once a year. This not only ensures space for the roots, the plant is immediately supplied with fresh nutrients. Use a larger planter and first create a drainage made of potsherds or pebbles. Provide sufficient moisture in the first few days so that the freshly transplanted sage can acclimatize more quickly in the new substrate.
The optimal season for changing pots is early spring, before the sage has started to shoot. Treat the plant to a sunny spot on the balcony or terrace.


No herbal menu is complete without the purple or blue blooming sage plants. Propagation takes place by dividing the plant, by sowing and also by cuttings.

The roots are divided in the spring, before the plant has started to shoot. Use a sharp-edged spade – or an ax – to divide the thick root ball and cultivate all parts of the plant as usual.

In order to obtain seeds from your own plant, not all inflorescences must be completely removed. After the seed capsules have formed, they are cut off to dry and stored in a cool place. The best time to sow is between April and May.

  • The cultivation in February or March takes place under glass.
  • From the beginning of May it is also possible to sow directly outdoors.
  • Fill a planter with a mixture of soil and sand.
  • Press the seeds only lightly.
  • Spray the earth with a water sprayer.

High humidity and warm ambient temperatures accelerate the germination time. You can move the young sage plants into the garden from mid-May. Allow for an approximate distance of 30-40 centimeters between the individual, herbaceous mint plants.

This type of vegetative propagation works almost always and relatively quickly:

  • Bend down a two-year-old shoot.
  • Remove leaves down to the top 5 centimeters.
  • Cover about four inches of the branch with soil.
  • Sufficient watering.

After a few weeks, the first roots will have formed and you can separate the rooted shoot from the mother plant.

The removal of cuttings is a little more tedious, but just as effective:

  • Choose an unwooded shoot.
  • Cut this off over a length of 8-10 centimeters.
  • Completely remove all but 4 – 6 sheets.
  • Insert into nutrient-poor substrate.
  • Ensure there is sufficient moisture.

The rooting succeeds quickly at high ambient temperatures. As soon as the cutting begins to sprout new leaves, roots have formed. Now move the plant outdoors.

To cut

Not only for the harvest, but also to encourage the growth of Salvia officinalis, it needs regular pruning.

  • Immediately after flowering, cut the plant back 1/3.
  • Only the young, soft shoots are removed.
  • The rejuvenation pruning takes place before budding in spring.

The cut is important to encourage the medicinal plant to sprout new branches and leaves. However, under no circumstances should you cut into older, already lignified stems. If you want to gain seeds, however, some flowers should be left on the sage to ripen the seed pods. The last pruning can be done in August at the latest. Because the sage needs time to close the cuts. Failure to do this before the onset of the first frost can cause irreparable damage to the plant.


The plants from the Mediterranean region usually survive our winter at home unscathed. To be on the safe side, the sage is covered with a thick layer of sticks, grass clippings or compost in late autumn. These components also provide the Salvia officinalis with important nutrients in the coming spring.


The leaves of Salvia are most aromatic just before flowering. Harvest in the early morning shortly after the dew or in the late afternoon of a sunny day. From the second year of life of the plant, you can also harvest it all year round. When harvesting, however, always make sure that only the young shoot tips are cut.

If you do not use the aromatic leaves of the sage right away, you can dry them and store them for months. Hang the cut shoots upside down to dry in a dark place. Then remove the leaves from the stem and keep them airtight and cool. In this way, you can still fall back on the medicinal properties of the sage leaves even in winter. Whether a spicy tea mixture or as a preservative, the use is entirely up to you. { Infobox type = check | content = Tip: Sage was already used as a deodorant and gargle in the Middle Ages. }

Uses of Salvia

The versatility of sage has been known in our latitudes since the Middle Ages.

  • The Mediterranean plant is a natural deterrent to lice, caterpillars and snails. For example, place the sage between the vegetables or use it to border the bed. However, you should note that cucumbers are extremely sensitive to the Mediterranean plants.
  • Use the leaves of the sage in the kitchen as a Mediterranean herb or prepare a tasty tea. Mint essential oils have an antibacterial effect and alleviate respiratory diseases.


In general, almost all types of sage are relatively robust and in no way require a lot of care. All that needs to be met is your claim to the right location. Make sure that the cut is regular so that the perennial plant sprouts bushy as early as the 2nd year and can be harvested all year round.

Diseases and pests

Not all harmful insects and diseases can be deterred by the plant’s essential oils.

Root rot
Salvia officinalis is very susceptible to waterlogging. If the soil has too much moisture for a long time, the sensitive roots of the plant begin to rot. Drainage is therefore essential for sage in pots; outdoors you can make the substrate more permeable by adding lava chippings or coarse pebbles. If the plant is visibly caring for itself and growth is also inhibited, this often indicates an already existing root rot. A sure sign is a musty smell that penetrates directly from the substrate.

There is no effective treatment for existing root rot. You can move the plant to dry substrate so that it can regenerate itself. Pour moderately and only when necessary. Because the sage itself comes from areas with long-lasting drought. A few days without water will not do any harm to the plant.

Spider mites
In addition to aphids and thrips, the “common spider mite” is one of the most widespread pests. The mite-like insects have a maximum body size of 0.5 centimeters, which is why the spider mites are hardly visible to the naked eye. In the event of an infestation, the affected leaves of the sage appear silvery to yellowish-white at first and then take on a gray-brown color. You can use a water atomizer to make the fine webs visible on the shoot axes and on the underside. However, not all types of spider mites are able to form the delicate webs.

The pests prefer a dry climate, which is why they are often found on plants in their winter quarters. Do not expose houseplants to direct heating air and spray them regularly with a water atomizer. But even with an already existing infestation, you do not have to resort to the chemical club directly. Spider mites do not tolerate high humidity. Create a tropical climate for a few days by wrapping the entire plant and the container with a transparent film. You can also use predatory mites outdoors.

Real powdery mildew
The “real powdery mildew” is one of the hose fungus species and is often referred to as “fair weather fungus”. Persistent drought and the weakening of many plants that this entails encourage infestation. The symptoms are expressed by a floury coating on the stems and leaves of the sage. Crippling of the affected parts of the plant can also often be observed. An infestation with the fungus does not necessarily lead to the death of the Salvia, as “powdery mildew” can only feed on living plants. Remove affected shoots and leaves immediately. You can safely throw them on the compost, as the harmful fungus cannot spread from there. But don’t let it get infected in the first place:

  • Keep enough planting distance when cultivating.
  • Choose a location in full sun.
  • Avoid drafts with potted plants.
  • Water regularly.
  • Do not over-fertilize the sage.

Herbal leaf hoppers
This type of insect prefers Mediterranean herbs, which is why it is often found on sage. Like many other pests, cicadas also feed on the cell sap of the host plant. The sucking and pricking cause white discoloration on the leaves, which then wither completely. However, the pests, which are only a few millimeters in size, are not easy to control. Some effective insecticides are available in specialist shops, but sage is a useful plant that is intended for consumption. You should therefore hardly work with chemical agents, or only to a limited extent. There are few biological countermeasures apart from neem oil and yellow stickers. If possible, isolate the affected plants and liberally remove affected shoots and leaves.

Due to its versatility, the sage should not be missing in any herb garden. The heat-loving medicinal plant also gives your own kitchen a touch of Mediterranean flair. In addition, Salvia officinalis is easy to cultivate and just as easy to propagate if necessary.

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