Growing White Sage
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Gabrielle Chini
Posted on: November 21, 2000

I have just purchased 5 acres in Southern California. This land was native to the Kumeay Indian tribe. Two acres consists of white sage, wild mint, raspberries and many other unidentifable herbs which I’m sure the Indians used for many purposes. I am dedicated to preserving the land and cultivating more of the white sage and other herbs. I am designating an area now for sage and lavender. Could you please tell me how to go about germinating the seeds from the white sage? I plan to sell to local markets and herbal shops.

White sage (Salvia apiana) is the native of the southwestern U.S. used for ceremonial smudging by the Indians. It is a bit of a challenge to grow from seeds because the germination tends to be sporadic and slow. Being a native of arid areas, it is also sensitive to overwatering. We have had good success using a standard sterilized sowing medium at ambient greenhouse temperatures, about 15 degrees Celsius nighttime and 25 degrees Celsius daytime (60-80 degrees Fahrenheit). We did not do anything special, except make sure that the seedflats were not overwatered.

We recommend sowing in seedflats or prepared seedbeds, not directly in the garden or field. You have greater control over the germination process and can keep weeds under control more easily than you can in the field. Because it is slow to establish, competition from faster growing weeds can be a problem.

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