How to Prune Sage – The Ultimate Step-by-Step Pruning Guide

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How to prune Sage plant

Salvia officinalis is the member of the Lamiaceae family. It is used as a spice and medicinal plant in kitchens and as an ornamental plant in gardens. Pruning this plant is cutting the leaves and stems back. Pruning common sage plant is essential for tender new growths, therefore you will increase the number of leaves of your plant, which is beneficial for harvesting. Sage is good for improve your memory and thinking skills, decrease high cholesterol, and deal with symptoms of menopause. Common sage is an edible plant.

1. Preparations

First, get a sharp pair of pruning shears and disinfect them. Properly disinfected scissors will prevent the spread of bacteria on leaves and stems.

2. Cut that stem about 1 inch above the leaves

Cut off one third of the plant from the top of the stem. Remember that the stem should be cut where new stem has already grown on two sides. Cut 1 inch (2.5 cm) above this position. The most important thing is not to cut more than a third of the plant. The plant – at least the cut stem – can also lead to death if too much is cut off. Also, don’t forget to cut the stems at a 45-degree angle to prevent water from remaining on the surface of the stem, which can lead to bacterial infection that can cause the stem to die.

You can finish pruning the sage if you want it to bloom. By not pruning, we stop the continuous growth and the plant stops wanting to grow stems and leaves, so a flowering phase starts.

Remember that dense bush growth can block sunlight from reaching covered leaves when pruning. To ensure adequate light, be sure to lift these leaves.

3. Repeat these steps until all stems are done.

Once you have learned the correct trimming, you can start to shape the sage into a beautiful decorative bush. Trimming sage bushes requires the same steps as pruning, only repeated over a longer period of time. For kitchen use, we prepare the leaves for later use as a condiment.

When should you prune sage?

You should trim sage in springtime when the temperature is pleasantly warm. To be precise, it should be above 60 F° or 15 C°, meaning you can trim sage in fall, winter and summer as well. The cut parts are very vulnerable, so doing it in sub-optimal conditions can affect its growth and even lead to the death of your plant.

How to trim a large sage bush?

To trim a large sage bush follow to next steps.

  1. Remove Dead/Damaged Stems: Cut any dead, diseased, or crossing stems all the way back to the base.
  2. Cut Back Stems: For a major prune, cut back each leafy stem by about one-third. Make the cut just above a node (the point where leaves sprout). This encourages new growth below.
  3. Shape the Plant: Prune to create a rounded, bushy shape. Thin out crowded areas to improve air circulation. Avoid cutting into the old, woody parts of the plant.

If your sage is very old with a lot of woody sections, you can try a hard prune in very early spring. Cut it back almost to the ground to stimulate full rejuvenation.

Why do you need to prune sage?

Pruning your sage will encourage new growth, that enables the plant to expand more efficiently. If done correctly, two new shoots will grow where the stem was cut off. The growth of these shoots will make the bushy, more decorative, and will also increase the number of sage leaves you can harvest.

What tools do you need for pruning sage?

To prune sage, you need a sterile pair of pruning shears or scissors. You want to disinfect or wash them before starting, to not contaminate the plant causing some nasty diseases. As mentioned before, you can also use your hands as the light, soft stems allow you to use the pinching technique.

Pruning shears to prune your Sage

Can I harvest sage while pruning?

Yes, you can harvest sage while pruning. Do not throw away the cut leaves, but put them aside. When the pruning is finished, collect all the clippings. Sage is used in the kitchen because of its leaves, so trimming is also harvesting. The leaves can be consumed for culinary use after drying.

Also, it is not recommended to prune the sage in winter, as the parts of the plant become more sensitive to new growth.

Can I deadhead sage flowers?

Yes, you can deadhead the sage flowers. Deadheading can help promote the growth of sage. Deadheading is a decorative operation whereby dead flowers are cut off the plant. By doing this, we beautify the sage bush and initiate the sprouting of new flowers. Deadheading cannot be used on new shoots, so use the pruning tactic mentioned above.

How to deal with sage pests?

The best way to control sage pests is to keep an eye on the plant to see where pests are appearing. If pests are visible, simply prune them from the leaves or stems of the plant. Pests may appear in places where they are not first visible, for example under the leaves. Pests under the leaves may be black, while pests between the leaves may have a white tip.

Cut off leaves if they are old and rotting. To control pests, use insecticidal soaps, which, because of their potassium chloride content, help remove the waxy substances left behind by pests. The common pests are aphids and white flies, thrips, spider mites, slugs, caterpillars and red and black flat mites.