Woodland sage, also occasionally spelled woodland sage and known as grove sage or ornamental sage, is a perennial native perennial for the summer garden. The Latin name Salvia nemorosa literally means sage from the forest. However, the name is only partially correct, because the ornamental plant prefers to thrive on dry meadows, on roadsides and of course in steppe landscapes instead of between deciduous or coniferous trees.
The steppe sage is extremely easy to care for and undemanding. However, this does not mean that he does not require attention at all and can be left to his own devices. Today we would like to share with you some facts worth knowing, but also helpful tips for caring for these bee-friendly summer bloomers.
The sage adds visual interest and truly flavors the garden
Recognizing steppe sage in nature
If you like to go hiking and often in summer, then you have certainly seen at least one sage species in the wild at least once, knowingly or unknowingly. Natural sage can be recognized from afar by its intense herbal scent.
Wild sage, on the other hand, exudes a slightly weaker scent and is easier to recognize by its long, close-knit, upright spiked flowers that are blue-violet, occasionally pink or white in color. These appear for the first time around mid-May and can last into September if the weather and growth conditions are optimal.
Take a close look at the flowers and you will quickly discover a whole swarm of all sorts of pollinating insects that are busy collecting pollen. Almost all types of sage are magnets for honey and wild bees, bumblebees, butterflies, hoverflies and beetles, both in nature and in your own hobby garden. The little helpers even fly onto your balcony when the wind carries the scent of flower nectar to them.
A natural magnet for many beneficial insects
Location in the bed or tub
The steppe sage easily survives the cold winter months without special frost protection. During the other seasons, however, this perennial is very warmth-loving. It is therefore very important to find a spot for them that gets a lot of direct sun. The sage particularly enjoys the warm midday sun.
With this native ornamental you don’t have to worry about burnt leaves and petals. The sunnier the location, the more lush, long-lasting and fragrant the flower will be.
The steppe sage has a vertical taproot that digs deeply and vigorously into the ground. It therefore generally prefers to be grown in an open flower bed with other deep-rooted perennials with similar care requirements, such as B. candytufts, cranesbills, bluebells and roses. However, if you plant it in a deep flower box or pot, it can also thrive on the balcony or terrace as a container plant.
Almost all types of sage are true sun worshipers!
soil, water and fertilizer
The steppe sage feels at home in a nutrient-rich, loose and calcareous mixture of sand and loam with a neutral pH value between 6 and 8. Good permeability is its main requirement, everything else can actually vary. In the wild, this ornamental plant often thrives in very nutrient-poor places.
The biggest care mistake that hobby gardeners actually make is that they water their sage too often and too much. In reality, this perennial prefers a dry soil and only occasional and moderate watering. It can withstand short-term drought much better than wet feet and waterlogging.
Less is more with sage
The steppe sage gets thirsty especially during the active flowering period. Always water slowly in the bottom area and not over the leaves or flowers, otherwise there is a risk of unsightly fungal infestation.
The steppe sage is also very undemanding when it comes to fertilizer. It only needs two feedings a year, once in early spring as an energy boost for new growth and once after the replacement cut in late summer. Use organic compost, worm castings or ordinary liquid fertilizer for flowering plants.
Moderate watering and fertilizing are the steps to success
Remount pruning of steppe sage
The steppe sage and also the gardener himself benefit from a so-called replacement cut. The entire plant is cut back to about a hand’s breadth above the ground immediately after the first flower has faded. Only a few leaves and leaf buds should remain on the stems, as these help with new growth.
When making the replacement cut, be careful not to damage the old wood
After this radical cut, the perennial gets its second annual fertilizer and some irrigation water. If you’ve done everything right, you can enjoy renewed flowering in just a few weeks.
The biggest disadvantage of the remounting pruning is that while the sage is recovering, unsightly gaps remain in the summer bed. If that bothers you, but you still want to see a second flower, you can simply cut off the withered inflorescences and dried shoots individually on a regular basis. The main goal of both methods is to prevent seed formation, which is simply too tiring for the plant.
As soon as the second flower has faded around September, you should no longer cut the steppe sage. The dry stems, leaves and flowers serve as a winter cover for the plant and protect it from frost damage. In the cold winter months, they also serve as a kind of natural insect hotel and shelter for many beneficial insects. It is therefore best not to cut your sage until March.
After the last flowering, you can let the ornamental plant develop its seeds
Divide and Rejuvenate
After about the third year, the steppe sage develops fewer and fewer new shoots and flowers, regardless of how nutrient-rich its soil is and how much attention you give it. This is a clear sign that the perennial needs to be divided and thus rejuvenated.
To do this, carefully dig the entire taproot out of the ground in early spring and simply cut off the individual root suckers. Enlarge the hole and add a few handfuls of mature compost or worm castings to the bottom, then replant the perennial.
Plant the divided daughter plants at least 60 cm away from the mother plant in the bed or in their own flower boxes or pots. After another three years, you need to repeat the same process.
Most perennials will need rejuvenation at some point
Woodland Sage makes a wonderful perennial for any sunny, bee-friendly summer garden. It is easy to care for and rewards the gardener’s slightest effort with a tireless, fragrant flower spectacle. We hope that our tips will be helpful to you.
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