Skip to Content

How to Harvest Sage Without Killing the Plant + Growing Tips

An herb garden stuffed with fresh sage leaves is one of the most satisfying things you can grow. Nothing beats fresh sage straight from the garden, and if you can grow enough to dry some for the winter, then even better! Sage can be grown in the tiniest of backyard gardens or even on your kitchen windowsill.

One of the first things I did when we arrived on our new homestead was to create a herb bed next to the kitchen door. We were lucky enough to be given spare plants and cuttings by other keen gardeners, and many other herbs are easy to grow from seed.

So, what’s the fascination with herbs? Quite simply, it is all about the flavor! Fresh herbs bring a whole new dimension to your cooking! They add an entirely new taste sensation to the most basic of dishes. And when it comes to the world of herbs, the magnificent sage plant must surely be king! (Or queen!)

How to Harvest Sage Without Killing the Plant

The easiest way to harvest sage without killing the plant is to pick off the number of leaves that you need. Pruning a limited number of leaves will leave the woody stems intact, and new leaves will quickly grow.

If you need a higher amount or want to harvest sage for drying, you will need to cut off some of the stems. To do this, pick longer stems and cut a length about 6″ long. But don’t cut it all – leave at least a third of the stalks on the plant intact so that it can recover.

The areas where you have cut the stems will grow new side shoots, so this method is excellent if you want to encourage your sage plant to become bushier. Pinching out the growing tips of new shoots will have the same effect.

If your sage plant is large and overgrown, you can prune some of the woody stems out when you harvest your sage. Pick off all but the top two leaves for cooking, then stick your cutting into a pot of compost.

Within a few weeks, your stem should have rooted. And you will have a whole new sage plant!

About Sage [Salvia officinalis]

sage leaves
Freshly harvested sage leaves.

Sage is an evergreen herbaceous perennial plant. The sage plant is bush-like and will grow up to 24 inches tall and spread. This plant retains its leaves all year round, although the main growth period is during the warmer months.

The stems of sage are thick and woody, each supporting many fragrant leaves. These woody stems smell incredible when added to a barbeque! So try not to throw them away when you harvest your sage!

The leaves of the sage plant are the part we use for culinary purposes. They are oval, with a slightly fuzzy appearance. The leaves of the sage plant have a characteristic gray-green color and a tough texture.

It is the scent and flavor of sage that stands out. Once you’ve smelt fresh sage leaves, it would be impossible to mistake them for anything else!

The flavor of sage is rich and earthy and works well with savory flavors such as red meat and root vegetables. It makes the perfect addition to a wintery pot roast – my favorite combination is sausages, potatoes, baby beets, and winter squash!

Read More – How to Harvest Kale and Keep It Growing! Our Top Tips!

How to Grow Sage

wild sage harvest in hands
Harvesting your sage is more straightforward than other herbs! You can harvest stems and leaves whenever you choose – before or during blooming. We recommend harvesting several sage stems at once so you can dry the leaves and then enjoy them on your chicken, pork, and pasta dishes!

Sage is one of the easiest herbs to grow and is relatively indestructible. As herbs go, it is pretty much perfect for the beginner gardener!

This resilient herb is also tolerant of all weather conditions, including drought and frosts.

There are very few garden pests that attack sage, and it will attract many beneficial pollinators to your garden. We also believe it can help to repel insects such as mosquitoes. Bonus!

The quickest way to start sage is to pick up a plant at your local store or market. Your first sage plant acquisition is possibly the only sage plant you will ever need to buy, so it is a worthwhile investment!

Sage is also easy to grow from seed, but it can take a while before the plant is ready to harvest.

If you want a truckload of sage plants? Then growing from seed is the most cost-effective method. I’m sowing sage seeds this year too! I want to plant a sage hedge around our outdoor kitchen area. Hopefully, it keeps the biting insects at bay!

If you’ve got a large sage plant, the quickest way to get more plants is to take cuttings. Most gardeners are happy to give away woody herb cuttings such as sage and rosemary. These plants will root easily as cuttings, perfect if you’ve never tried this technique before!

sage drying in basket
Once harvested, drying sage is easy! I toss mine in a basket and throw it atop a dry oak table. You can also throw them in your pantry – either on a dry board – or hanging up. Any dry location or cellar works nicely. Sage also smells heavenly – and looks idyllic resting on your pantry counter. You can also store your sage in the freezer after drying.

How Do You Know When Sage is Ready to Harvest?

herb garden and sage for cooking
We advise harvesting before your sage blooms for the best flavor. But, some say to harvest during blooming. Also, remember that sage plants can last for years! However, after many years – sage plants get tremendously woody. Enjoy your sage plants while they’re tender!

When harvesting sage, it is the leaves we are looking for – that’s the good stuff. So, if you can see some leaves on your sage plant, is it ready to harvest?

If your sage only has a few leaves, it is not ready to harvest.

The aim is to be able to take as many leaves as you need without stripping the bush bare. So, make sure that your sage bush grows well and has plenty of leaves before you start harvesting.

If you are growing sage from seed, it will take nearly three months before you can harvest some leaves. However, you will only be able to take a few at a time! Otherwise, you will weaken the plant.

For the best results, leave sage grown from seed for about one year before you start harvesting. Giving it time to grow will result in a healthy, robust bush that will keep you supplied with fresh sage for many years to come.

Read More – Harvesting Parsley Without Killing the Plant! Here’s How!

Best Sage Seeds for DIY Growing at Home

We love sage as our secret ingredient for fresh homemade soups and pasta dishes.

Sage also tastes excellently with roasted or cured meats – and it’s also great in vegetable recipes.

The best part is that sage is relatively easy to grow – even for new homesteaders and herb gardeners.

If you’re not sure which sage seeds to try sowing first? These are our top picks.

  1. Broad Leaved Sage Herb Seeds | Seed Needs
  2. Broad Leaved Sage Herb Seeds | Seed Needs
    $4.39 ($0.04 / Count)

    Broad-leaved sage produces massive green leaves that feel tender. They develop striking purple perennial flowers - and deep root systems. Broad-leaved sage is also a feast for your eyes and your tummy. And for beneficial pollinators! Sow them indoors or outdoors - in gardens or containers. It's a flexible herb but prefers full sun and temperatures of 60 degrees to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Expect germination one to three weeks after sowing.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    08/13/2022 01:21 am GMT
  3. Herloom Sage Seeds | Gardeners Basics
  4. Herloom Sage Seeds | Gardeners Basics
    $4.95

    These heirloom sage seeds are non-GMO and come from the USA. Expect these seeds to germinate within three weeks and to mature in 75 days. Germinate the seeds indoors roughly ten weeks before your final frost. Give the plants two feet of space between plantings. These sage plants prefer full sunlight! The harvested sage crop is delicious and perfect for seasoning turkey, salmon, chicken, beans, squash, soups, and other veggies or meat dishes.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    08/12/2022 06:06 pm GMT
  5. Sapphire Blue Sage Seeds | Seeds Needs
  6. Sapphire Blue Sage Seeds | Seeds Needs
    $8.99

    Sapphire blue sage seeds are perfect if you want a beautiful flower garden with plenty of vibrant deep-blue flowering herbs. Expect loads of honeybees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and bumblebees. It reaches a height of one to two feet. The flowers bloom and beautify your garden until the first frost kills them off. Even if frost kills your plants, they are easy to establish the following year. Sapphire sage can also self-seed - so you can harvest seeds if you wish.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    08/12/2022 08:06 pm GMT
  7. Sage Seeds | Gaea's Blessing Seeds
  8. Sage Seeds | Gaea's Blessing Seeds
    $4.99 ($47.15 / ounce)

    These sage seeds from Gaea's Blessing are excellent for new gardeners and come with a few bonuses. You get a zip-lock baggie with a label to store any unused seeds for the next season. (I prefer preserving my seeds in jars - but the zip lock bag is a nice touch.) You also get their growing tips to start your sage seeds without fuss.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    08/12/2022 03:37 pm GMT
    Lasso Brag

Conclusion

freshly harvested sage mound on wooden table
Harvested and dried sage is hugely helpful for smudge sticks, essential oils, and kitchen decor. But – sage deserves more credit than a mere perfume or incense ingredient. It’s also a mouth-watering culinary herb perfect for roasted turkeysyellow squash, and even gnocchi!

Sage is one of the top herbs we recommend for new gardeners – especially if you’re not sure where else to start.

Sage is manageable to grow and straightforward to harvest, and it also tastes delicious in soups and pasta.

Harvesting sage is also easy – and you have options! Remember that most gardeners prefer to harvest their sage before they bloom. But – a small (but steadfast) contingent of homesteaders prefers harvesting sage while they bloom! Your results may vary.

If you have more questions about harvesting sage – please share them in the comments.

And, if you have any yummy sage recipes? We would love to hear them!

Thanks again for reading!

Have a beautiful day!

Read More – How to Harvest Chives Without Killing the Plant? Read Our Harvesting Guide!

Author

  • Kate moved to Portugal last year and lives with her husband, two cats, six hens, and a glorious Brahma rooster called Mary. Earlier this year they purchased a half-hectare ‘quinta’ – traditional terraced land with olive trees, grapevines, and a house to renovate. They are currently living in a small campervan which is a challenging but fun experience! Kate has over 15 years of experience in the UK veterinary industry and is also a passionate gardener – turning a grassy field into a productive vegetable patch in just three months. Future plans include more animals, particularly sheep and goats for milk production to make cheese, butter, and yogurt! Kate and her husband are aiming to create a self-sufficient off-grid life on their quinta, fulfilling a life-long dream.