Sage Has Droopy Leaves And Withers: What To Do?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:32 pm

If the sage droops leaves, you need to act. Various causes can be responsible for this. How to prevent wilting sage and get the plants back on track, you will learn in this guide.

  • wilts due to various causes
  • must not stand too wet
  • dangerous root rot possible
  • avoid overfertilization
  • protect from leaf cicadas

Sensitivity to wetness

Sage (Salvia) is a herb that can easily cope with prolonged drought. For this reason, sage may droop its leaves due to excessive moisture. There does not have to be rot, but the labiates (Lamiaceae) often droops its leaves when it is too wet for a period of time. There are several reasons why plants might be too wet:

  • overwatered
  • too small a planter

Sage Has Droopy Leaves And Withers: What To Do?

Fortunately, these problems can be fixed with little effort. If it is a pot that is too small, all you need to do is repot the plant and choose a larger container. Especially suitable for sage is a tall flower pot with a diameter of at least twenty centimeters. This is sufficient for various species of Salvia. Instead, if it is a sage plant that is watered too often, you simply need to reduce the amount of water added. Water only when the top layer of substrate has dried. This is what you will learn from the finger test:

  • Use index finger or thumb
  • press carefully into top layer of substrate
  • check substrate for moisture
  • water only as needed
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Hints: Overwatering can also occur if you live in a rainy region. Be sure to use a permeable substrate to prevent waterlogging.

Dangerous: Root rot

While a pot that’s too small and watering too often can improve quickly, you can expect root rot if the soil is too heavy. Sage needs a loose substrate that protects against standing water. If it is too heavy or even compacted, water will not be able to drain away and will put a lot of pressure on the plant. In the worst case, the dreaded root rot occurs, which quickly pushes even actually healthy specimens to their limits and causes the sage to droop its leaves. Salvia wilts not only due to this disease. Also watch out for the following symptoms:

  • weakening growth
  • Substrate smells musty
  • Leaves with yellowish discoloration

If this condition lasts too long, you must definitely do something about it, otherwise the plant will die completely. To do this, you need to remove the sage from the wet substrate and check the roots. Remove any that have rotted or dried out and thoroughly clean the container. Remove any dried leaves as well. Then prepare fresh substrate. The following properties are suitable for salvia plants:

  • low in nutrients
  • sandy
  • chalky
  • humus
  • permeable and loose
  • gravel as drainage medium

Note: Replace the soil in the appropriate location with fresh soil if it is an outdoor specimen. The rot bacteria can remain in the soil for a long period of time and infect other plants.


Overfertilization may be another reason your sage is drooping leaves. Salvia only needs a few nutrients, depending on how it is cultivated. If you keep the plants outdoors, you need to enrich the soil with mature compost in spring and fall. Vulture specimens are fertilized every 14 days from mid-March to mid-August with an organic-based liquid fertilizer, which should not contain too much nitrogen. Excessive amounts of nitrogen will cause the sage to droop its leaves. It is enough to provide the plant with new substrate and then fertilize less. Other symptoms of overfertilization are:

  • weaker leaf aroma
  • leaves turn yellow
  • soft leaves
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Pests: control leaf cicadas

Care mistakes aren’t the only reason your sage plant may be wilting. Pests can be a major problem for the herb if you don’t control them. Leaf cicadas (Typhlocybinae) can infest the plant and cause a lot of damage. Symptoms are:

  • drooping leaves
  • white to yellowish leaf discoloration
  • leaves fall off (in case of heavy infestation)

In addition, the cicadas themselves are recognizable. They feed on the cell sap of the plants, which weakens the sage and makes the leaves droop. There are several methods you can use to save your plants. Since you are probably keeping salvia plants as a crop, avoid insecticides. Use yellow boards or sticks to trap them. If that is not enough, you can apply home-mixed remedies and remove the infested leaves and shoots. A remedy made from neem oil is quite easy to prepare:

  • 1 l of water
  • 5 ml neem oil
  • 1,5 ml Rimulgan (improves oil solubility)
  • fill into spray bottle
  • spray on infested areas

Frequently asked questions

Why do several sage plants wilt at once?

If you have planted more than one specimen in a pot or in the same bed, too little space is usually the cause. Salvia species need 40 to 60 centimeters of free space to the next specimen. If they stand too close together, the leaves droop.

Can they be watered too infrequently?

What needs to be considered specifically for container sage?

If you keep sage plants exclusively in containers, they must not be exposed to a constant draught of air. Over time, this will cause them to droop their leaves. This protective measure is particularly important in winter.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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