Sage is usually a friendly neighbor who gets along well with most plants, but it also has a few buddies it really clicks with. So, if you’re thinking of adding sage to your garden, knowing the right sage companion plants will make sure that everyone is happy and thriving together.
With its silvery green leaves and wonderful aroma, sage is a real treat for both your garden and your kitchen. Plus, it’s super drought-tolerant and resistant to deer and rabbits, so any gardener can easily add it. But the best thing about sage is how versatile it is for companion planting.
Curious to know who should (and shouldn’t) hang out with your sage? This handy sage companion planting guide will help you make the perfect pairings for your garden.
Let’s get started!
What Will I Learn?
- What is Companion Planting?
- The Benefits of Companion Planting for Sage
- Understanding the Needs of Sage
- The Best Sage Companion Plants
- • Vegetables:
- • Herbs:
- • Other:
- Worst Sage Companion Plants to Avoid
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
What is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is a gardening technique where you grow different plant species together to help each other out. It’s like a support system for plants, where they share nutrients, control pests, and help each other thrive. Gardeners have been doing this for ages, and it’s a great way to create a healthy ecosystem in your garden without relying on chemicals all the time.
The Benefits of Companion Planting for Sage
Companion planting offers numerous benefits for sage, including:
- Natural pest control: Sage is already a good repellent, but teaming it up with other repellent plants, such as rosemary and lavender, makes it even harder for those unwanted visitors to stick around.
- Improved pollination: Plant it along with bee-friendly plants such as phlox or thyme and watch the pollination rate soar in your garden.
- Maximized space: Pair sage with herbs or vegetables that occupy different levels of the soil and make the most of your garden real estate.
- Improved flavor: Sage releases essential oils that enhance the flavor of certain plants, like tomatoes or strawberries.
Understanding the Needs of Sage
Sage is a Mediterranean herb that absolutely loves the heat and thrives in well-drained soil. It’s a sun-worshiping plant and doesn’t do well in wet or humid environments. But hey, even if your garden isn’t a perfect match, no worries! Sage is super adaptable and can still thrive in less-than-ideal conditions.
Just make sure to give it some space (about 18 inches between plants) and avoid overwatering. Trim it regularly to keep it in shape and encourage new growth. When it comes to fertilizer, a little goes a long way for sage, as it doesn’t need much extra nutrients.
The Best Sage Companion Plants
Now, let’s get to the fun part – picking the companion plants for your sage! Here are some of the best plants to grow with sage in your garden, grouped by category:
Tomatoes need a lot of protection from pests, and sage is the perfect herb to do the job. Its intense aroma keeps away those pesky spider mites, tomato hornworms, and whiteflies, which can wreak havoc on your precious tomatoes. Plus, sage and tomatoes have complementary growth habits. The shallow roots of sage won’t compete with the deeper tomato roots, and its compact bush won’t block the much-needed sunlight.
Moreover, by infusing essential oils into the soil, sage actually enhances the flavor of tomatoes, especially in the more acidic varieties. You might want to adjust the watering schedule as sage likes its soil on the drier side. But as long as you’ve got well-drained soil, both plants will do great together.
Sage and carrots are a traditional pair in vegetable gardens, and for good reason. Sage does an excellent job of masking the scent of carrots, keeping pesky carrot rust flies away. These flies are notorious for laying eggs near carrot roots, and their larvae can ruin young roots. It also attracts ladybugs, which are natural predators of aphids and other harmful insects that pose a threat to your carrots.
Carrots return the favor by being the best “soil buddies” for sage. They loosen up hard soil, making it nice and airy for the sage to spread its roots more freely.
Beans have bacteria in their roots that can grab nitrogen from the air and put it in the soil as fertilizer. This makes them super helpful for nearby plants, like sage. They also love the sun and can handle dry conditions (depending on the type, just like sage), making them a perfect match.
Plus, beans grow upward, leaving plenty of free space for a sage plant to spread horizontally—perfect for small gardens. Cowpeas and pole beans are some of the most popular companions for sage.
Sage is an excellent companion for brassicas, such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. Its aromatic scent repels cabbage moths, the arch-nemesis of brassicas that can wreak havoc on their foliage and reduce yield.
But the best part is that it also attracts beneficial insects, especially tachinid flies, in this case. These flies lay eggs on cabbage worms and beetle eggs, and when the larvae hatch, they happily feast on them, protecting your precious brassicas.
Rosemary is the closest relative to sage; in fact, recently, in 2019, its scientific name was changed from Rosmarinus Officinalis to Salvia Rosmarinus to reflect this relation. It’s a great companion plant for sage because they both love the sun and well-drained soil, with rosemary tolerating slightly more moist environments.
Rosemary is also an excellent pest repellent, just like sage. By grouping them together, you can create a robust natural barrier against pests. Plus, its woody stem provides good shelter for beneficial insects.
6. Lemon Balm
Another strong pest repellent, lemon balm, masks the smell of nearby plants with its strong citrus scent, making it hard for pests to locate their target. It’s a good companion for sage, as it also likes similar conditions and can grow in both sun and partial shade, making it a versatile plant.
Moreover, lemon balm’s shallow roots make it the perfect “understudy” for sage in case of overcrowding. If your sage plants are competing for space, simply dig up some lemon balms and transplant them in between.
The herb that tolerates drought the most, apart from sage, is thyme, making it a fantastic companion for dry gardens. Thyme deters a wide range of pests, from cabbage worms to whiteflies. It also increases pollination rates and attracts beneficial insects.
Tarragon is another herb with similar growing requirements as sage and has excellent pest-repellent properties. But unlike most other companion herbs, tarragon can handle watering more frequently, making it an excellent candidate to group with sage if you’re afraid of underwatering your garden.
Aesthetically speaking, lavender and sage are beautiful together! They look like two siblings that were clearly meant to be next to each other. But beyond that, lavender is a perfect companion for sage because it repels moths, fleas, and mosquitos. It’s also known to reduce stress levels in nearby plants (and gardeners!), making it an excellent addition if you’re cultivating delicate sage varieties like pineapple sage.
Strawberries are incredibly low-maintenance plants that love sun and well-drained soil—just like most herbs. When planted as companion plants for sage, they offer ground cover and suppress weed growth, keeping soil moisture in check without competing for the same nutrients.
In exchange, sage provides strawberries with much-needed protection against slugs and insects that love to munch on juicy berries.
Phlox is another underappreciated plant that’s making a comeback in gardens. It has beautiful flower clusters that attract hummingbirds and butterflies, but it also attracts bugs like beetles and aphids, etc, which can cause damage to nearby plants. By planting phlox near sage, you’ll be preventing these harmful insects from getting too close.
Plus, phlox is a thick, low-growing plant that makes an excellent ground cover to suppress weeds and keeps soil moisture consistent.
12. Red Hot Poker
Also known as torch lily or tritoma, this tropical-looking perennial has tubular flowers that bloom from late summer to fall when most other plants are dying down. This provides a much-needed food source for pollinators during the leaner months.
As both sage and Red-Hot Poker are deer resistant and make thick bushes, they make excellent borders around your garden, protecting it from unwanted pests.
Worst Sage Companion Plants to Avoid
While there are many plants that complement sage, some should be kept at arm’s length. These include:
Mint: Mint may seem like an attractive choice because of its strong scent, but it’s also an aggressive grower that can easily take over your garden. Mint is known to suppress the growth of other nearby plants, including sage, and can quickly become invasive.
Rue: This herb is toxic to many plants, including sage. If planted close together, rue can stunt the growth of sage or even kill it.
Onion and garlic: While they share a love for airy, well-drained soil like sage does, onion and garlic need consistent moisture to thrive, which can be a challenge for sage.
Frequently Asked Questions
What plants grow best with sage?
Plants that love full sun and tolerate dry conditions make the best companions for sage. These include other herbs like rosemary, thyme, and tarragon, as well as brassicas such as cabbage and broccoli.
What plants should not be planted next to sage?
Plants that are too needy and require lots of moisture, nutrient supplements, or space (mint, onion, garlic, rue, etc.) don’t really make good companions for sage and should be kept at a distance.
Where should I plant sage?
Anywhere that gets plenty of sunshine and has well-drained soil will work perfectly for sage. You can plant it in garden beds or containers, either on its own or alongside companion plants— they also make excellent border plants. Just make sure it has enough room to grow and isn’t too crowded.
Companion planting is all about creating symbiotic relationships between plants, and sage is no exception. By choosing the right companion plants for sage, you’ll not only boost its growth but also make your garden healthier and more resilient. So, understand the needs and habits of your sage, and pick your favorite companion plants on our list to create a thriving, beautiful garden.