I had so much fun with my garden project last year that I'm already itching to get started. Since I live in the core of Canada, the cold can linger for quite some time - even if all the snow is gone! It's not unusual to get a dusting of snow in April or May.
Since kale and sage are staples to my home life, I've decided to get some of my indoor plants started. I love giving dried sage to friends as little gifts - especially when they feel they could use some smoke cleansing - or to replenish my own stock for at-home purposes, like these. Below are my six tips for growing sage in your home:
DON'T START FROM SEEDS
There is something so satisfying about growing a plant from a mere seedling. Watching those first little sprouts shoot up from the dirt always makes me giddy. But sage is a little bit finicky. You might have great luck or have nothing take at all. In my garden last year I grew three batches of sage, one from a pesky seedling and the other two from already sprouted plants. If you're a beginner, I suggest buying something already started for you. I know - I know; what a cop out! My seedlings last year ended up getting white spots and they needed to be significantly trimmed for a few growth spurts before I could even pluck them for drying purposes. And I was never quite comfortable cooking with that particular batch - and I make a mean sage mashed sweet potato. If it's your first attempt, start your plant indoors and already sprouted. Next year, you can dive into little seedlings for your garden. But just note they need more care and a watchful eye - and frequent misting.
ADD SAND TO YOUR SOIL
Sage likes nice loose soil that drains well. You don't want a really compact batch of soil for your little guy. I add a mini layer of stones at the bottom of my pot since most of mine don't have drainage holes - sage loves to drain. Stir in some nice fluffy soil with sand mixed through. You don't want tons of sand just some to break up the density in your dirt. A little handful should suffice.
Last year I attempted lasagna gardening, a method used where you rebuild the soil to replenish the nutrients in the dirt since so much of our soil is malnourished. Healthy, nutritious plants can't help our bodies as much if they're missing the prime minerals to grow in. I built replenished soil last year, rich in organic matter and encourage you to do the same, but just note the soil is "richer" the following year.
PICK THE RIGHT SPOT
Sun! Are there any windows in your home that face south? I have a north-facing home and sometimes - yeah, it can be the worst. My living room would LOVE some plant attention, but only certain plants will grow there. (I'm looking at you, relentless snake plant.) If you're limited to sunlight, I suggest picking a window where you get good afternoon light, regardless of the direction it faces. And if you really want your plant in your shady living room, make sure you're moving him around throughout the day so he gets his fill. If you're off to work in the morning and only home around supper time, tuck him on the window ledge and then bring him into the lame shady living room when you get home. While this isn't as imperative once the plant begins the thrive, in the early stages of his growth, he's going to need liberal sunshine.
Extra tip: Every once and a while, let your sage plant sit in the warm bathroom with you while you shower, and then move him back to his regular spot. The steam is great for plants and sage is no exception!
DON'T OVER WATER
Actually, this is usually what kills most plants prematurely. And while I'm a fan of moseying through my garden, watering each little guy I have growing, some plants just don't need as much. And indoor plants aren't exposed to the elements in the same way that your garden plants are so they typically need even less watering. For your indoor sage, keep an eye on the layer of topsoil on the plant and only water him when he's getting a little parched. Depending on the quality of sunshine your plant is getting, he might need daily watering or he might only need weekly watering. The key is to stick your finger in his soil (whoa-ho-ho!) and make sure he's dry. And if you're unsure how much water to give him, remember: less is more. You can always refill him tomorrow.
I always talk to my plants like they're little babies, cooing to them and asking if they're thirsty. And while this might seem silly, there is a reason why you always hear about people talking to their plants. Plants are living things! Imagine if no one ever spoke to you? How dreary and awful. If I've been neglecting my plants, physically or vocally, they definitely suffer. I have a glorious Monstera plant and the more I talk to it, the stronger its leaves are. I mean it! If you want to test me, try this experiment: plant two batches of sage and only talk to one of them. See which one does better.
KEEP IT UNDER CONTROL
If you let your sage run (or grow!) wild, the base can get really woody and thick. And while woody sage can be good for saging, it isn't the greatest for cooking - and since there are all kinds of things you can use your sage for, it's good to keep a plant versatile. Make sure to regularly prune your sage, snipping little leaves off as you need them or doing a heartier harvest by snipping entire stems of sage. If your sage gets too thick near the centre, it can be an invitation for moisture and pests - two things Mr. Sage does not like. You know how you go for regular highlights or a trim? Sage likes to be well groomed too. If you do it right, he'll even sprout beautiful flowers for you. Perfect filler for thoughtful projects.
Sage is one of my favourite plants, not only for smoke cleansing but for cooking too! There are a slew of different ways you can use sage. How has your luck been growing sage?