My white sage has finally germinated!
These little tykes take forever to germinate (I’ve been waiting almost a month), so when I found one teeny tiny little sprout poking its little noggin through the dirt today I almost peed myself!
Salvia officinalis is a perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is a member of the family Lamiaceae and is native to the Mediterranean region, though it has naturalized in many places throughout the world. It has a long history of medicinal and culinary use. Officinalis, refers to the plant’s medicinal use—the officina was the traditional storeroom of a monastery where herbs and medicines were stored.
internal use: good for digestion, effective remedy for infections, in particular of the mucus membranes. Sage extracts or essential oils improve memory, attention/executive function, alertness and mood.
external use: extract of the herb in vinegar can be used for sprains, contusions and rheumatism. Decotion promotes scarring. Helpful against large pores and oily skin.
White sage Salvia apiana is sacred in many Shamanic and Native American belief systems and is used in smudging, and other, ceremonies to purify the body. This plant is difficult to grow in captivity and is largely wildcrafted which threatens native populations. Garden sage is a suitable substitute.
Sage is used in magical workings for immortality, longevity, wisdom, protection and the granting of wishes.
*caution: the herb is toxic in high concentrations.
Sage has become hugely popular in witchcraft today due to its use in smoke cleansing, as it is very effective in this purpose. However, due to its popularity it is now considered at least a threatened species, possibly endangered. What can you do to help?
The answer is simple: Grow your own! You can grow from seeds, but the easiest way is from cuttings. You can even find the whole plant in stores like Lowes or at the Farmer’s Market and grow it from there, which is much easier than seeds or cuttings!
It doesn’t actually matter which one you choose, while White Sage is used by several different Native American groups in smudging both can be used for smoke cleansing, the benefit of regular sage is that it is a common garden spice used in cooking, so you can harvest it for that!
Sage grows well in areas that aren’t too humid and that have good drainage and light, which make them great container plants, particularly for clay pots. The soil can be allowed to dry between waterings. It does better in non-clay soil, so if the soil is clay it needs to be mixed with sand and other soil. Plants should be pruned in early spring, prune back the older growth to allow for new growth. In a few years the plant may become woody, properly pruning back the woody parts in early spring will help with this.
Sage matures in its second year, so it should not be harvested until then, dead leaves should be removed routinely if they appear - they often do near the bottom of the plant. After the second year you may harvest year round, and in fact you should thin the plant occasionally in order to prevent mildew, which becomes a problem for sage in humid climates. Using small pebbles around the base of the plant instead of mulch may help with this problem.
Growing sage yourself instead of consuming already-endangered sage insures this wonderful plant will be around for future generations to use! Remember to buy heirloom and save your seeds!