With its savory and sweet flavor, sage is one of the best plants to have in your home garden. While it is popular for its culinary applications, it also has an abundance of health benefits. Since the ancient times, people are using sage for the treatment of common health problems. In recent years, several studies prove that indeed, Sage is a wonderful herb.
We are here to give you more insights about Sage. We will discuss its rich history, including its various uses before the modern times. We will also explore its culinary applications, as well as the several types available. Best of all, we will let you know how to plant sage in the garden. You will learn how to harvest the herb and how to make sure that it grows healthy.
What is Sage?
Sage is from the mint family. It has a warm and fragrant flavor. The perennial plant grows to a height up to two feet, although this can be different depending on the particular variety. Some leaves have a distinct flavor, while others are only for ornamental purposes. 1n 2001, Sage earned the prestigious title of Herb of the Year from the International Herb Association.
The Latin name of sage is Salvia Officinalis, from the root word Salvere, which literally means to be saved. Sage has an extensive history of uses as a medicinal plant. For thousands of years, many people consider this as the queen of herb because of its endless applications in the field of alternative medicine. A native of the Mediterranean region, people from all around the world are using sage for thousands of years now.
In the ancient times, the Greeks and the Romans are some of the first users of Sage. Some of its traditional uses in these civilizations include preserving meat, enhancing memory, and taking advantage of its antioxidant properties.
Why should a man die when sage grows in the garden? This is an old French saying that proves how sage is indeed beneficial for the health. In 800s AD, Charlemagne, a French Emperor, issued an order requiring sage to grow on crown lands.
In the 10th century, sage became popular amongst Arabs for the promotion of immortality. Meanwhile, in the 14th century, it became common in Europe to counter witchcraft. The Chinese, on the other hand, made tea in the 17th century using sage. Native American Indians used sage for purifying their energies. Several US textbooks from the US also shows the use of sage as an oral gargle for the treatment of a sore throat.
Types of Sage
Thinking of using sage or planting it in the herb garden? Take note that there are different varieties of the plant, such as those that we will briefly tackle below:
Common or garden sage is the most popular of the types of this herb. It is popular for its culinary applications, as well as for beverages, such as tea. It is a hardy plant that produces soft leaves with silvery green color. They produce small and edible flowers early in spring.
It has red and tubular flowers that attract hummingbirds and bees. The leaves, meanwhile, are bright red. It usually blooms in fall and reaches a height of up to four feet. It is a common ornamental plant in many herb gardens.
Its leaves are silver-gray while the tubular flowers are lavender or blue. Its name may confuse many people since it is not really from Russia. It is a native of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
If you live in a place with a cool climate, this is an excellent choice for an outdoor plant. The beautiful purple flowers of this plant make it a common ornamental herb. It is a bushy and perennial plant that requires minimal maintenance.
This is another variety of sage that functions mainly as an ornamental plant and not for culinary uses. It needs protection during the winter months and grows year after year if well-maintained. It has lovely and green leaves that provide ideal contrast to the natural gray foliage of other sage varieties.
It is similar to the garden sage, except that this is not a flowering plant. It usually grows to a height of two feet and width of up to three feet. It has round leaves that are perfect for culinary applications.
This is a bushy shrub that grows up to three feet in height and three feet in width. It produces blue and yellow-green flowers. Its stems, meanwhile, are hairy white.
How is It Good for the Health
Historically and even in the modern times, sage is an herb with multiple uses in traditional medicine. Some of its health benefits include the following:
- Inflammation: Several researchers prove the effectiveness of sage as an anti-inflammatory herb, specifically in a study from the University of Vienna. In the form of tea, it is an effective alternative cure for inflammation. Chewing sage leaves is also beneficial as it is quick-acting, but many people dread this because of the bitterness. The German Commission E also endorses the use of Sage for inflammation in the mucous membranes.
- Excessive Sweating: One study from Germany supports the effectiveness of sage leaf extract for reducing sweating by as much as 50%. Aside from drying sweat, it also eliminates body odor that results from too much perspiration.
- Bacterial Infections: Sage also has the reputation as an excellent anti-bacterial herb. It has phenolic acids, which are powerful in fighting Staphylococcus aureus. These bacteria cause some health problems, such as acne, boils, sepsis, and pneumonia.
- Anti-Aging: Many people dread aging because of the appearance of problems in the face, such as fine lines and wrinkles. Sage is a promising herb with anti-aging benefits because of its antioxidants that help in fighting free radicals that cause damage to the skin.
- Hair: There are many ways by which Sage helps in having healthier hair. For instance, it has beta-sitosterol, which helps in the prevention of baldness. In combination with rosemary, sage also makes the hair thicker and stimulates quicker growth. It is also effective for naturally darkening the color of hair.
- Brain Function: Another benefit of sage is boosting the brain. In 2003, in one issue of Pharmacological Biochemical Behavior, researchers confirmed the ability of sage to enhance memory. In another report from the British Pharmaceutical Conference, researchers find out how sage is similar to the ingredients of modern drugs for Alzheimer’s disease. It also helps to improve focus, such as when you are studying.
- Bones: Over the years, our bones become weaker and brittle. This is the main reason why aging individuals are more prone to osteoporosis and other problems related to the bone. With this, sage helps as it is a potent source of Vitamin K, which is essential in strengthening the bones by improving its density.
- Asthma: Sage also contains antispasmodic properties. The latter is effective if the reduction of tension in the muscles that affect the lungs. It allows you to breathe smoothly. It also removes mucous congestions that are clogging the airways
What are Its Other Uses
Aside from its medicinal value, planting sage in the garden is also a good idea because of its several uses, such as those that we will list below:
- Ornamental Plant: If you are serious about gardening, sage is an excellent addition to your landscape. Some varieties grow colorful flowers and leaves, which are exclusively for decorative purposes. They make a good companion for other bright plants.
- Cooking: There are many recipes using sage as the main ingredient. It is flavorful and aromatic, making it add a distinct characteristic to several dishes. Sage stuffing for roast chicken and turkey is a good idea. Using sage for seasoning baked meats and as a marinade is also common.
- Baking: Sweet treats will achieve the perfect balance with the use of sage. Scones, biscuits, and cornbread, among others, will be tastier if you use sage.
- Beverages: Certain varieties, such as pineapple sage, are excellent additions to refreshing beverages like punches and teas. More than the flavor, they are also aromatic. For a sweet cocktail, combine sage, gin, orange juice, and honey syrup.
How to Grow Sage
Growing sage in your garden is a good idea, but a lot of people immediately have hesitations because they do not know how to proceed. This section will provide you with basic knowledge about the fundamentals you need to know to plant this herb.
The Best Way to Plant
It is possible to plant sage through seeds, but this is a slow process that can yield minimal success. With this, a better option is to plant through a cutting from a healthy plant. It is best to start planting after a month and a half after the last spring frost. Cut a three-inch tip from a sage plant and sow in a healthy soil. Its roots will start to appear six weeks after planting.
Plant Sage Where it Will Receive Full Sun
When growing Sage, it is also important to pay attention to the right position. Like most garden herbs, plant it where it will receive full sun. It is important to receive sunlight as it results to more flavorful leaves.Regarding soil, proper drainage is necessary. Its roots do not like being wet and will make it prone to root rot. Clay loam with a high level of nitrogen provides the best growing condition for the plant. Also, the pH level should be between 6.0 to 6.5. Mixing organic matter with the soil is also good to make it lighter and nutrition-dense.
Harvesting Sage Properly
It is best to harvest sage one year after planting. However, you should do this lightly. Pick only the leaves that you will need. During the first year, harvesting too much is not recommended as you need to give it more time to mature and to grow its foliage. The optimal time to harvest is just before the flowers appear, which is usually in the middle of summer.After harvesting sage, you can use it fresh if that is what the recipe or any other application requires. Alternatively, many people resort to drying Sage. This is excellent if you want the leaves to have stronger aroma and flavor. Tie a group of sprigs and simply hang it upside down. When it is fully dried, keep the leaves in a container with an airtight seal, which helps to prolong its freshness.
Pick only the Leaves You Need
If you want to maximize the flavor of sage, use it when it is fresh. If you want it to last longer after harvesting, aside from drying, freezing is also a good thing.
Care and Maintenance
While sage grows even with minimal maintenance, providing tender loving care to the plant will make it survive even extreme weather conditions and provide you with tasty leaves and colorful flowers. Watering is one thing that is necessary, especially during the summer season. But, go easy on doing this. During the initial stages of growth, misting the soil is more than enough. If you live in a place with rain, this is more than sufficient to provide the water that the plant needs.
Among other problems, mildew is one of the most common in Sage, especially for indoor plants. This is because of humidity. The simplest solution is to take the plant outdoors. Mulching using pebbles is also good, which is effective in speeding up the evaporation of moisture.
Unlike other plants in the garden, sage will not be too much of a magnet for pests. Occasionally, you will notice the appearance of thrips and spider bugs. The best way to deal with the latter is to use an organic pesticide. A good way to also prevent pests is to choose the right companion plants, which include carrots, beans, and rosemary.
While Sage can last for a long time, it is best to re-plant every three to five years, replacing the older ones. Within such duration, sage will be woody and hard. Use cuttings from the existing plant or try layering to grow a new one.
Sage is a mystical and wonderful herb that can offer an abundance of benefits. From the ancient times to the modern days, it delivers a wide array of benefits for the health. It also has numerous applications in the kitchen and beyond. Plus, it serves as an excellent ornamental plant that gives a distinct color and appearance to the garden. With all of these, you have a lot of good reasons to start growing Sage today!