JTiffany
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Location: Moore, OK

Sage plant having trouble

Hi all! I have a sage plant (common sage) that I bought in early May of this year. It was about 4 inches tall when I got it at a local home improvement store and it's about 6 inches tall now. Not much change for late July. This poor plant probably just wants me to leave it alone. Not too long after I got it, my pineapple sage that I got at the same time, began turning brown and dying. I'm pretty sure I was overwatering. I wasn't able to save that one, but my common sage and rosemary survived. Shortly after the pineapple sage got sick, so did the common sage. At first I thought it was still because of too much water, but I'm sure now I've given it ample time to dry up a tad in between waterings. The planter that the sage and rosemary were in was a large rectangle shaped plastic one that had a tray on the bottom to "auto water." I popped the tray off to increase drainage. They sit all day on our west-facing patio so they get mostly evening sun. Which in Oklahoma is HOT. The rosemary continued to look fine but the sage didn't. Basically, most of the larger leaves at the top of the small plant were okay, give or take a couple. The small young leaves at the bottom are the worst. Every day when I wake up in the morning, I check it and more baby leaves are completely brown and wilted. So I pluck them off and throw them away. When I come home from work in the afternoon? Same thing. Two nights ago, after the evening cooled a bit, I uprooted both plants as gently as possible and added some sand and this pearly decorative gravel (it was the only thing I could find at Home Depot) to the soil and replanted them. The good thing is, there has still been more new growth and no loss of an entire stem. I'm worried because it seems like it's getting worse. I know drainage is a really key thing in herb gardening, especially for Mediterranean natives. The sage's roots were extremely bound, so much so that I couldn't get all of the old soil off. They're still in the shape of the little plastic thing the baby plant came in at the store. I didn't want to do too much root damage so I left it. There is plenty of root growth beyond that on both plants so I thought they might need a deeper container. I bought two deep 10 inch containers and planted them each separate, adding a little humus and manure compost, a bit of peat moss and some more gravel to compensate for the addition of dense material. Sorry this is getting so long but I'm trying to be thorough. :wink:
Daily, about one or two larger leaves will be affected, turning brown on just part of the leaf like a half moon shape on one side. Here is what I have observed in the plant's short history as far as pests: A couple of little green worms about an 8th inch long. I plucked those off and haven't seen any more. A few ants in the planter a while back, but haven't seen any in a month or so. On the bottom of some of the leaves, I have found, total, about 5 ot 6 of these teeny tiny white things that look like the shell/skin of an aphid. Could they be whiteflies? Just one time on a single leaf, I found this sort of irridescent substance that looked slimy but it was dry. I wonder if that's the product of a whitefly. But that was only one time. I've gone out in the middle of the night to try and catch a night crawler of any kind and found nothing. I've looked at it with a magnifying glass to try and spot any mites. Again, nothing. In the last week or two, the leaves, especially the larger ones have started curling. Not curling up, but curling in a downward spiral with the bottom on the inside. Since I repotted with the humus and manure last night the leaves have straightened out a bit but I think both the sage and rosemary suffered a little transplant shock from me messing with them two days in a row. They got a tad wilty. I think that will subside though once they rest and grow accustomed to their new soil. Any clues would be much appreciated!!! Thank you!!! :D

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microcollie
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Wow! Good thing I'm a fast reader :lol:
I noticed o couple things while I was reading your post.
1. Both my sage and rosemary in my garden are in well-drained but fairly lean soil. They both would much rather dry out than stay too moist. Even during the past few weeks of blazing heat and not much rain, they are doing fine. (At most, they have been watered once every two weeks.)
2. Almost any time I plant something that's been in a nursery pot for a while, the first thing I do is tease the roots apart a bit. (often if i buy something that's pretty pot-bound, I'll score them with a knife. If roots have wound around the inside of a pot, there's a good chance that they'll want to just keep growing in that direction. You want to coax them to grow outward.
3. I'm a bit confused by your comment that the small leaves are at the bottom of the plant and the big ones on top. Sometimes nurseries will put way too many seedlings in a pot to make it look fuller. It could be that you have a clump of sage and not a single plant. If so, you may want to get rid of most or all of the weaker ones so that the main plant doesn't have competition.
4. If you're not seeing any signs of insect feeding, I would put aside fears of pests for now. Your problems really sound more like a systemic issue than an external one.
Hope some of this helps. It's always nice to have herbs in good shape come fall so that they can come inside for the winter (although the sage might do fine through your winter, depending on the variety.)

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Sage Hermit
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Sick bay

Sorry about your Salvia elegans, mine had a serious mite infestation and of the 12 shoots only 1 survived and now is sending out new shoots. This time of year I would not worry too much about the leaves wilting because its a little passed blooming time. Take all the dried leaves and put them in your spice cabinet. They have been use as a cure for about 20 ailments so it would be a waste not to.

Full sun is covered and it really doesn't matter if you over water since you have the sun and drainage covered so I would guess your soil is either too rich or its just that time of year and wants to be clipped. I just inspected mine and found some mites and some chunks eaten by grasshoppers but this is to be expected.
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

JTiffany
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Location: Moore, OK

Wow, thanks guys! I think you're spot on Microcollie. I thought from the beginning that it looked like more than one plant but I'm so new at this that I just shrugged it off. Just a minute ago I went outside to smash a wasp nest and took a peek at the sage again. As I uncurled every leaf, determined to find SOMETHING, I actually did find something. In one of the curls, I found a dense little web. When I plucked the leaf and uncurled it, it had a tiny little white spider in it an some other things I would assume to be eggs or babies or something. This might explain some of the munched edges I've seen. But I bet you're absolutely right that the plants are competing against each other. How might I go about separating them? I feel so bad when I hear the roots tearing. I think I can probably pick one or two parts that are best. Looks like there are four different plants.

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microcollie
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There are a few types of actual spiders that will build a web on a leaf, curling it inward as they go to make a little tunnel-shaped home. They do the plant no harm and are really beneficial, as they eat pest bugs.
If, however, they are insects and not spiders, they could be a bad thing. I would err on the safe side if you can't identify them and remove them (snip off the leaf if the plant can spare it and take it away, spider and all)

If your sage still has soft stems, you could probably just snip the weakest ones away at soil level.

If you want to separate them, dig them up and try to tease roots apart. I sometimes use a chopstick to do this, and I find it easier to do if the soil is pretty dry.
Then repot them, spreading their roots as much as you can in their new soil. Remember that they don't really need good, rich soil, so if you're using commercial potting soil, add some inorganic matter. Make sure that your pots have good drainage (a layer of gravel in the bottom helps). Water them in well, then let them dry pretty thoroughly before watering them again.
Good luck!

ps Since this is quite a bit of stress, (for the plant, hopefully not you) I might be tempted to give them a few days before placing them in full-day sun. They would probably recover faster in bright but not harsh light.

JTiffany
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Location: Moore, OK

Alright, done deal. Two plants have been separated and saved (hopefully) and the other two were almost leafless (and what was left was turning brown) so I tossed them. :( I went ahead and did away with Mr. Spider since he wouldn't tell me who he was. I know they can be beneficial to gardening but with a fear of spiders it's hard to change my mindset toward them to anything positive. Haha. It's all a work in progress! Thanks everyone for your help! I'll update you soon on how my herbs are doing. :wink:
~Be nice to your neighbors!~

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Sage Hermit
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Don't smash wasp's nests. :? I know you have fear but you are an adult human. Face your fear already.


Be nice to your neighbors~
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

JTiffany
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Location: Moore, OK

Sorry if that offends you, but I'm allergic and would rather not have them nesting by my front door. :wink:
~Be nice to your neighbors!~

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Sage Hermit
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...but I'm allergic...

Sorry JTiffany, that good then. The health and safety of the gardener is paramount.

[img]https://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa267/adaba/DSCN0035.jpg[/img]
Because I don't have any allergy I can handle them and I have grown to love em'.

In case a wasp comes near your head scaring you or even lands on you remember this: Breathe normally and move away.

At the end of the season they look for sugars so juice bottles or pop bottles may attract them. Chances are you will see them in your garden maybe a few times a year even if you smash their nests others will most likely be near. Hopefully you never get a sting. Should you get a sting make sure you have an emergency plan ready to go.
Basic cub scout drills stuff.
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

JTiffany
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Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2010 2:14 am
Location: Moore, OK

Thanks, it's not a life threatening allergy but still enough to be quite bothersom. I'm really not afraid of them at all. I'm quite content around bees too (no allergy though). I'd get mean too if a giant hand was swatting at me! Bees are perfectly fine and wasps can come around, just preferably not right above my front door. I wouldn't want to open the door and get dive bombed or something (had it happen before in my old apartment lol) As long as you don't move too quickly or do anything to startle them, they won't bother you in the slightest. Accidents happen though. I just like to be aware of where they are. I do hate the buzzing past my ear that I get sometimes. Haha. But I don't think anyone really likes that. I did make sure the wasp wasn't in the nest when I knocked it down so hopefully he just made a new home somewhere a little farther away.

Update: Sage is looking strong. Two days since I separated the four plants and repotted two of them. They still have some curly leaves but they aren't wilting and I haven't seen any brown leaves. I bet if I just leave them alone now for a while they'll start looking even better. I'm about to go check them for the second time today since I just got home from work. I did notice that some of the edges looked like they had been munched on a bit more. We'll see how it looks now...
~Be nice to your neighbors!~

Susan W
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Sounds like you have worked out some of the problems. I sometimes try to move a plant to a less intense sun area if it is showing stress. Say to an East side of house to get AM but not beating PM sun.
Have fun!
Susan

JTiffany
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Location: Moore, OK

Another update: Not so good today. Still no more brown leaves which is very good to see, but both sage plants are now all wilty. :( Do you think after three days that it could just now be showing signs of transplant shock? I stuck my finger in the soil about in inch and it felt slightly moist but not wet. Is that still too moist maybe? I've had the pot under the covered part of the patio so it would still get sun but not too intense right after repotting. Is it time to move it out to full sun again? Any help would be awesome. Thanks! :)
~Be nice to your neighbors!~

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microcollie
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I would still give them some time...they underwent a lot of fuss over the past couple weeks. In lower light they will not be needing as much water. It's hard to say if your moist and mine would be the same, but I would let them get pretty dry, then give them a thorough watering (until it comes out of the drainage holes in the pot), then let them dry again etc. Wish there was a way that I could be more definate.
When you repotted, did the roots look good? Do the stems feel nice and firm?
If they're still not recovering in a few days, it might be best to give them a trim so there's less for the roots to support. But as I said, I'd still wait and see.

JTiffany
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Location: Moore, OK

Well, it's been over a month since my last post and I'm still concerned about my two sage plants. They've gone down to one or two dead leaves a week, but they don't seem to be growing at all. The plants are a good green color, perky, firm stems. They are getting much better drainage now and are also getting plenty of sunlight. Now that we're approaching autumn, is growing season already over? I just wonder why they haven't gotten bigger. Even the little baby leaves that were there a month ago don't seem to have changed at all. Why could this be? I have fertilized a couple of times with fish emulsion, hoping that would stimulate growth a bit. I'm having the same problem with my rosemary. It's still a young plant as well and doesn't seem to be getting any bigger at all but it does look healthy. Thanks for any help you can offer!
~Be nice to your neighbors!~

greenstubbs
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Location: N. Nevada

I can't speak for others that are growing sage, but mine's been in the ground for over 6 years and it's goes postal every year. Being on Ca. where it only rains in the winter I just leave it alone and maybe flood it once a month. When I do it's rock hard dry within a week. Of course it's what I call a irragated desert here. If you can find a sunny spot in the yard, bury it there in the spring, give it some food and forget about it and watch what happen's. They like lotso sun! I find that they are very hardy even when punished by neiglect. I/ this area had a bad spider problem this year and mine has turned black from the webs. Every year in very eary spring I cut mine back to about a foot from the rootball and give it a feeding. Good Luck

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Runningtrails
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Location: Barrie, Ontario,Canada

Mine's the same. Totally ignored. No food and no hand watering. It's huge and flowers profusely every year. Maybe it doesn't need the hand watering. If it comes back in the spring here, it should survive in the ground where you are.

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