Many garden herbs become inedible when they bloom. Other specimens, on the other hand, benefit from flowering. But what about sage? Read here whether or not to cut off the flowers on sage.
- Sage blooms between May/June to July
- flowers edible
- can, but do not have to be cut
- reduce leaf aroma
Cut with flower
In principle, sage flowers can be cut off when they are in bloom, but they do not necessarily have to be. Cutting brings several advantages:
- Flowers edible and accordingly usable for dishes
- stimulates growth
- the earlier cutting is done, the better, stronger the leaf growth
- prevention of uncontrolled sowing
- leaf aroma develops more intensively
Tip: To avoid cutting out the sage flowers as much as possible, it is recommended to buy the variety “Dalmatian sage” (Salvia officinalis subsp. major). This is a sub-variety of the true sage (Salvia officinalis), which blooms little to rarely, but has a much stronger leaf growth.
The purple fragrant flowers fill any garden as well as balconies with color. Mainly because of this, many amateur gardeners choose to leave them standing. This is quite possible because unlike numerous other herbs, sage flowers do not make the leaves taste bitter or inedible. These remain usable as a culinary herb. Only the aroma develops in a reduced form.
Further advantages but also disadvantages it brings, if the sage flowers are not cut off:
- Food source for numerous insects such as bees
- self-seeding for wild growth ideal for natural gardens
- no second flowering in autumn
- limited leaf growth
- less resistance and consequently increased susceptibility to life-threatening damage from diseases and plant pests (due to higher nutrient consumption)
Cut wilted flowers
Those who choose to leave sage flowers standing merely reschedule the pruning date. Cutting off wilted specimens is a must. Even in this state, the plant provides nutrients to the wilted parts of the plant. As a result, less is available for the development and growth of leaves. Wilt often severely pulls and weakens the Salvia. The following should be considered when cutting off already wilted flowers on salvia:
- Cutting off encourages second flower growth around September
- then blooms until well into the fall
- always cut off wilted flowers between mid-July and about the beginning of August
- improved nutrient supply of the leaves and better aroma the consequence
Tip: Ideally, withered flower stalks should be cut off before complete wilting. During flowering, the plant draws and stores significantly more nutrients, which can then be supplied to the leaves by cutting them off early.
Pruning flowers correctly
The correct pruning technique depends on when and for what purpose the flowers are to be cut:
- for consumption pluck out flowers only
- to remove wilted flowers pinch off flower heads
- to promote growth and aroma cut flower stems hand width above ground
- to stimulate second flowering cut flower stems hand width above ground
- to prevent flower formation cut flower stems in half
Frequently asked questions
Can sage leaves be harvested during flowering?
Yes. In healthy sage, the leaves can be cut even during flowering. The more advanced this is, the lower the aroma content of the leaves. In the “worst” case, it is so low that the leaves are no longer suitable as a seasoning herb. Therefore, it is advised to wait two to three weeks after the end of flowering to harvest the leaves, so that the aroma is enhanced – or you can cut off the sage flowers immediately after their formation.
What do I do with the leaves of cut sage shoots with flower?
You can use the leaves for cooking as usual after cutting off the flower stalks. Again, the aroma can be very minimal. However, you can also tie them as bouquets, let them dry and hang them as decoration or put them in a vase.
Are the flowers of ornamental sage also to be cut off?
Yes and no. The “main task” of ornamental sage is to fill the environment with its flower color and fragrance. Therefore, you should only cut them off when they are in bloom, when there is sparse growth, or when the plant is weakened due to a disease or pest infestation. However, it is important to prune at the onset of flower wilt to benefit from a second flowering in late summer/early fall.
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