can sage grow in shade? [PLANTING GUIDE]

can sage grow in shade

My garden receives full sunlight in the morning and full shade in the afternoon. I have been wondering which herbs can do well under these conditions. Sage is one of the herbs I have been looking forward to planting. Below are the results of the research I did to learn more about sage.

So, can sage grow in the shade? Yes, sage can grow in partial shade but not in complete shade. It requires access to sunlight so as to maintain its flavor. Sage also grows in fertile well-drained soil, overfertilizing results in fast growth but less flavored leaves. Lastly, you can either grow sage from seeds or cuttings or layering.

Make sure your garden can receive full sunlight in the morning hours, before the shade sets in during the afternoon hours. Sage that do not receive enough sunlight does not develop its flavor well.

Botanical NameSalvia officinalis
Plant TypeHerb
Sun ExposureFull Sun
Soil TypeLoamy, Sandy
Soil pHSlightly Acidic to Neutral
Height12 to 30 inches
Spacing 18 to 24 inches apart
Bloom TimeSummer
Flower ColorPink, Purple, blue, white
Hardiness Zones4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Maturitytransplant:70-75 days, Seed: 90-100days
Special FeaturesAttracts Butterflies

Before planting sage for culinary purposes you should also be aware that not all sage are good for culinary.

When purchasing seedlings or seeds be sure to ask for Salvia 0fficinalis, it is the best when used for culinary purposes.

How many varieties of sage are there?

There are about 900 species of Salvia, the following list shows the most cultivated sage varieties.

  • Berggarten Sage does not bloom
  • Garden Sage the common sage
  • Golden Sage creeping sage
  • Grape Scented Sage 
  • Mealycup Sage
  • Mexican Bush Sage
  • Purple Sage
  • Pineapple Sage 
  • Scarlet Sage
  • Tricolor Garden Sage 
  • White Sage 

How to grow Sage in a Shade

As described above sage does not do well in the full shade since it needs enough sunlight to develop its flavor.

To determine the best place to plant sage in your garden make sure that part recieves about 4-8 hours of sunlight.

Three to six hours of sunlight are marked as partial sunlight, which is fine if you garden receives three to six hours of sunlight in the afternoon.

Sage can either be an annual or a perennial herb depending on the zone your garden is located in. In zones 5-8 sage grows as a perrenia while in zone 9 sage grows as an annua and does not torelate the summer humidity and heat.


Sage requires a fertile well drained soil to thrive, it also prefers a soil ph of about 6.5 to 7.

If your garden soil does not drain well, most likely if it is clay. Add some sand soil plus compost to improve drainage.

If you wish to grow sage in pots, make sure that the potting soil drains well, and use water-soluble fertilizer to make sure the plant gets enough nutrients.

Add enough mulch when winter sets in to protect your plant’s roots from the harsh conditions of sage, unlike pansiesOpens in a new tab. that can do well even in winter sage will need some protection to thrive during winter.

Mulching will go a long way to helping your sage grow through winter freezing, as they handle cold weather very well.

If mulch is applied well, sage can survive upto -30F, remember to cut the foliage though.


If you will be using sage for culinary purposes make sure it receives enough sunlight.

When sage does not receive enough sunlight its flavor does not develop well, if you plant sage indoor make sure to place it near a window that receives enough sunlight.

Interestingy, sage can also grow in a hydroponics system, as long as it receives the right nutrients and enough grow light.


Sage is a drought tolerant herb that will do well even when the soil is abit dry. If wilted just water it properly and it will perk up again.

Avoid overheading watering but rather water from the base of the plant, spacing the plat well allows for air circulation.

How to propagate sage

You can propagate sage through three means, namely seed, cuttings and layering.

Propagating sage via seed

Growing sage from seeds can prove challenging to most people especially for beginners.

Germination of sage seed is quite poor especially if conditions are not optimal.

When propagating via seeds, make sure to sow your sage seeds 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost sets in.

It takes sage seeds about 3 weeks to germinate, thereafter, only transfer sage to the outdoor garden when all signs of frost have disappeared.

Propagating through Cuttings

Given the difficulty of propagating sage from the seeds, most gardeners opt to use cuttings and layering.

To propagate sage from cuttings follow these steps.

  • From the stem tip clip a a cutting of about three inches
  • Then appy a looting hormone on the cut stem
  • Proceed to plant it in a sterile sand or vermiculate
  • In six weeks time the cutting will develop roots
  • After which you can transfer to a small pot and then when roots develop transfer to your garden

Propagating via Layering

Layering as stated above is one the best way to propagate sage when seeds proof futile.

Follow these steps to propagate sage via layering [the secured stem must still be attached to parent plant]

  • Secure a long sage stem into the ground or pot [use a wire] leave about 4 inches of the stem tip free from the soil
  • the Pinned stem part should touch the soil
  • In a months time, the base part of the stem will form roots
  • Cut the rooted stem and transfer into the garden

Does sage need prunning

Yes, to promote new growth sage needs prunning. Make sure to prune sage in the early spring.

Sage normally flowers during late spring, at three to five years even with regular prunning the sage plant can get woody and reduce the amount of foliage.

At this stage you can uproot it and plant new sage plants to continue enjoying the plants culinary and medicinal propertties.

How to harvest and store Sage

If you are located in areas where sage is perennial, sage should be harvested lightly in the first year. Only harvest as much as you need, if you perform a big harvest allow up to two months between big harvest and the first frost of the season for the new foliage to develop before harvesting again.

After harvesting, hang the harvested sage upside down to dry it well before stripping leaves from the stem and storing them in an airtight container for later use.

Companion planting

Sage is a good companion plant, it can planted near carrots, beneficial as it propels carrots flies. When planted near cabbage it is good at propelling cabbage moths.

However, never plant cucumber and sage together the two have been known to affect their growths negatively.

Insects and Disease problems

Sage is susceptible to the following pests and diseases, however, with proper gardening practices you can reduce or even prevent these pests and diseases.

  • Slugs
  • Spider mites
  • Powdery Mildew
  • Wilt

Frequently Asked Questions

Can sage survive winter? Yes sage can survive in winter, sage is regarded as a cold hardy herb.

How long does sage last? Sage can last for as many as three to five years when cared for well. At this age it becomes woody and its productivity goes down as well as the flavor of its leaves.

Is sage annual or perennial? Sage is both perennial and annual depending on the region or zone it is planted. In planting zone 5-8 it is an perennial, while in planting zones 9 and more it grows as an annual.

Can sage be grown indoors? Yes, sage can be grwon indoors as far it is grown in well drained soil and receives about 6 hours of sunlight. It can also grow well in indoor hydroponic system.

Can I plant sage and mint together? Yes, you can plant sage and mint together, sage is one of the plants in the mint family this means that sage can do well among other mint family plants that need the same conditions as sage. Make sure to space sage well when planted among other mint family plants.

Will sage grow back? Yes, sage is a perennial plant in some zones and will grow back after prunning and even after winter.

Can I grow sage from cuttings? Yes, you can grow sage from cuttings. Cuttings and layering is one the easiest ways to plant sage compared to seeding.

Why is my sage dying? One of the main reasons for sage drying is due to overwatering and poorly drained soil. Also, make sure your sage gets enough water.

What grows well with Sage? Herbs can also grow well when planted alonside rosemary, thyme, cabbage, carrots and tomatoes. These plants ned a well drained fertile soil just like sage. Other mint family plants can also be planted near sage plants.

Final word

If you are looking to put that partial shaded part of your garden into use, planting sage can be a good option. Make sure to folow the guidelines outlined above to ensure that your sage plants do not die.

For companion planting be careful not to plant cucumber near sage as it may affect the growth potential of both plants.


I love nature and fresh food from the garden. That's why I started this gardening journey and decided to share my experience with the world. So far it has been an amazing journey. I hope you will enjoy reading my gardening journal and never be the same again!

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