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Sage Has Pretty Blue Flowers
Growing and Using Sage
Growing Sage in the Herb Garden
Sage is fast becoming a favorite herb to grow in my herb garden. I had no idea, that of all the herbs I have ever grown, that sage would be outperforming the rest. What I mean is, year after year, it comes back as a perennial, after near neglect being left out all winter, not watered, and really, basically ignored. Its a very hearty perennial with beautiful flowers.
Now to be fair, it could be that I have it in a plastic pot, with a drainage dish. This helps plants not to dry out as quickly, and plastic can help shield against the elements. Still, this plant has some gumption in it, as it seems nothing can kill it.
Early on in spring, it comes back faithfully, year after year, with the beautiful purple flowers you see here in this hub. If you have never grown it, I hope you give it a try sometime. I grow mine from seeds. It is a very happy plant in my herb garden, and I love it!
Some facts about Sage
I love the name that sage comes from. The genus name for it comes from the Latin word salvere, which means to be in good health, to cure, and to save. Isn't that an awesome meaning? I just love it.
Certain civilizations over history, as diverse as China, Europe and Persia have attributed many powers to sage. Native Americans also value sage very much. Many considered it sacred and used it in ceremonies, etc.
Sage can be described as a woody, evergreen perennial (as stated before), and can grow to be up to three feet tall. The leaves are bumpy or "pebbly", and a gray green color. Leaves grow to be about two inches or so. The flowers can grow in spikes, and they are edible! They are tubular flowers, as seen in the photos, and can be blue to purple in color. I think the color is amazing, and it brightens up my whole lower porch.
More Information on Sage
Did you know there are more than 900 species of sage? Some grow better than others in certain zones. For instance, Spanish sage, or S. lavandulifolia (zone 7), and Greek sage or s. fruticosa (zone 8), are very similar to regular sage, as far as properties go. There are some with wonderful aromas, such as fruit sage, or s. dorisana, and pineapple sage, or s. elegans, are great for potpourris, drinks and desserts. Clary sage, or s. sclarea (zone 4) has a lovely vanilla balsam aroma. It can be used in the kitchen and medicinally.
Tips for Growing Sage in the Garden
You will want to plant sage in full sun, with average to well drained soil. The pH that is perfect for this plant is 6.4. You will want to space the plants about 2 feet apart. They grow well in containers, as I have noticed. To be completely honest however, I have never paid much attention to the directions on how to grow this, so I have been very lucky, or it is an incredibly hardy plant!
Seeds can be difficult to germinate. Many people buy them as small plants at garden centers or through catalogues. Some people take cuttings in late spring or in the fall, or layer the plants in spring or fall.
You will want to trim it after flowering, to give it some shape. It is recommended to get a new sage plant after five years. I haven't noticed my sage plant giving any indication it is near done however!
To harvest sage, take off leaves as needed. Harvest the flowers as they open. You can preserve them by drying, but it will affect their flavor.
Using Sage in the Kitchen
Use sage leaves with vegetables, bread, chicken, pork, jellies and vinegars. You can also use it with sausage, stuffing, cheese and butter. The flowers work nicely into salads, fruit recipes and teas.
The lemony fragrance you have with sage, as well as the fragrance, are milder and sweeter when you use sage fresh. When it is dried, it is still good but seems a bit musty in comparison. Many use sage in a tomato based pasta sauce. Why not try it, and take in any health benefit along with it? I
Using Sage in your Home
People have been known to use dried sage leaves in wreaths, or even in insect repelling sachets. You can boil sage leaves to disinfect a room. Of course, sage looks great growing in an indoor herb garden if you have sufficient light for this. Sun rooms can make a great place to grow herbs.
Using Sage Medicinally
Lyreleaf sage, or s. lyrata (zone 6) has been used by native Americans for colds, coughs and tension. Red sage, or s. militiorhiza (zone 7) has been used by the Chinese for heart and nerve conditions. I am always amazed, but then never surprised that things of the earth, like herbs are so good for us.
Generally speaking, sage has been used internally for colds, diarrhea, anxiety, indigestion, irregular menstruation and menopause. One thing to keep in mind however, is that you don't want to take it in large doses for more than two weeks. It does contain estrogen, and pregnant women should use caution and everyone ought to consult a doctor for questions or concerns with any herb.
Externally, people have used sage in a bath, as a facial tonic or steam, as mouth gargle, and even for gray hair! Some have even used the leaves on their teeth, supposedly to whiten them!
No matter what, as stated before, consult your physician with any concerns or questions, when using any plant or herb medicinally. These are just things that have been used by certain people and over history in different ways.
In conclusion, it is a pure joy to have sage growing so readily and happily in my garden. If you have never grown it before, consider trying it at least once. You will be so glad you did.
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