I have a row of sage, and some of them in the row seem to be randomly dying. It’s weird, because others in the row are thriving, so it can’t be overwatering (they all get the same), or anything else like that, could it? I thought perhaps my dogs are peeing on some of them, but really, I have no idea why they’re just giving up. Any suggestions?
Photos might help. In what way are the plants dying? Wilting, changing colors, browning, etc.? Any signs of parasites on the underneath of leaves?
You’re not alone! Mom-in-law (and therefore me too since I’m the green thumb) has a HUGE problem keeping Sage plants alive.
She had 3 planted in 2013 (not by me), and one has barely survived. Last spring she bought 3 new ones and asked me to pot them for her. They are hanging on by their fingernails… the dogs keep scratching themselves on the table and border fence and knocking the pot over! She’s gotten another one now and re-potted it … we’ll see how it goes.
Every one of the last 6 she had would thrive for a while, then the leaves would start turning brown and dying off. She’s also got a habit of forgetting to water then over-watering and soaking the leaves, which I imagine doesn’t help…
Best of luck to us both for our Sage plants!
Here’s a photo. Beautiful healthy plant in the middle. Barely visible dried up sticks on the left (in front of the marigold), and one starting to do the same on the right (to the right of the white stone).
There’s no sign of insects – nothing I can see, and no holes or chewed bits on the leaves. They’re just shrivelling up, turning grey and becoming dry as sticks.
Here’s a link to a larger version of the photo: https://carousel.dropbox.com/photos/cc/F4t9ImCISbCy1Xg
My guess is overcrowding. Sage plants need a spacing of 24-36 inches.
If they are planted closer than that, the strongest plant will use up the available water and nutrients, causing the weaker plants to die off. Which is what appears to be happening in your garden.
If you want to save the struggling Sage plant to the right of the white stone, you will probably need to move it further away from the healthy sage plant, allowing a minimum of 24 inches in between.
I’ll second Green Guy’s advice and add:
1.) Sage is almost impossible to kill; so don’t let yourself get too fussy about it!
2.) You can usually pull the dead stuff right out of the ground and if the healthy stuff comes along, just gently separate and replant the good stuff…with plenty of room.
3.) Even hardy perennials such as Sage will eventually need to be replaced. The good news is, if you’re in a community garden, I’ll bet you can get some root stock for free.
I have had lots of trouble with sage too. I now have one that went through our mild winter and is doing good. It is in full sun and gets lots of water (with very well drained soil) It is growing in a crowded space but with different plants. I have left it alone and every time I want to pamper it I say to myself. “No let it be, it is doing fine”.
My sage does the same thing. No worries, it’s normal.
The older plants live a couple of years and die, the newer plants keep the line going.
If they’re in a space with room all around all their own the new plants will come up around the old and you’ll get a dead patch in the middle.
JPOrganicBot is spot-on with all three points. I just pull out the old stuff and let the new stuff keep on going.
I have always had problems with sage too, but this year the sage has made it through the summer with no care. I recently went out of the country for a while and was very busy for a couple of months after I got back. The only water my sage (& other) plants received was from rain.
The summer sun can be scorching here in Miami during the summer. My garden became over grown in those summer & late spring months. I couldn’t even walk in the paths between the raised beds. Some of the sage plants were completely covered by other plants. Some were in their own spots, kind of alone, but most were planted very close to other plants. They all did equally well with the exception of the one that was planted with and covered by the celery plants. Its still growing, but not as robust as the other plants.
As I said, this was my best year of growing sage. They definitely weren’t spaced anywhere near 24" apart. I did plant the plants from seeds and when they got big enough, I transplanted them into the garden. Later, I took cuttings and made more plants. The transplants I bought at Home Depot in the past, never really did as well. I don’t know if that made a difference.
I think Kevalsha hit the nail on the head. You can crowd it and you’re probably best off ignoring it as much as possible, rather than kill it with kindness. If you have some dead twigs on your plants, it may not really be much of a problem. I would just trim that part off, which might even encourage new growth & make the plant even bushier. From what I can see in the picture, your plant really doesn’t look too bad. Maybe a little mulch or compost will help, if your not using it right now. Good luck!
Bump, just trying to bring a little life to the Herb forum as I hope to be using it a lot this coming Spring when we can move back into our house (fire), I had to pretty much give up on getting much out of my gardens this year with the exceptions of some peppers (ghost, habaneros, tabasco) and some basil and rosemary etc. Those kept on going in between trips to check on progress.
This year I hope to have a more deer proof area and a better process to go from seed to plant to end result (whether for processing for food, for preserving or for making medicine or tea from).
Glad I saw this on the Sage, I had similar problems, but I realize now I was overcrowding them with other sage plants. This years were doing pretty well in an herb spiral made from old bricks, as there weren’t many sage close together but spaced out.