Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Russian Sage

I am a little late on my drought tolerant plants post. So I will do my best to post 2times today.

Russian Sage seems to be rather popular at the nursery I work at. Most people really like it, and know about it. We have all scene it. Personally, it is not one of my favorite plants. I have seen this plant get a little out of control. And I kinda think it looks like a large sage brush. (hey, all I can say about this blog is you will get my honesty right?) I have watched it grow in some yards, and have truly thought that no other plant would fit better. It just looked great. But for me, at least at this moment. I have not planted a Russian Sage in my landscape.

The Boring information here-

Russian Sage or Perovskia atriplicifolia the fancy planty name, isn't a Sage and isn't Russian. No kidding. It is actually native from Afghanistan to Tibet. It was named after a Russian Military Officer. I have no idea why. (and that concludes your history lesson for today) This plant was actually selected as the Perennial Plant of the Year in 1995! Not bad...
Will you like it?

This perennial has an upright habit, and resembles a shrub. It is a little woody in texture. I think it almost has a "greyish" color, with Purple flowers. The leaves are small (the flowers two), but some say they are lacy and delicate looking. Russian Sage is fragrant, and that is a main stay for many who grow this plant. For me I would think its best feature would be that it attracts butterflies, and does not attract deer!!! Oh my, maybe I better re-think this. I NEED stuff that does not attract deer! hee hee

I see this plant in a lot of xeriscape plantings. My sister is a xeriscaper, and she loves this plant. They are EXTREMELY drought tolerant, and heat tolerant. I have heard it does not do as well in the humid hot. Some say it is "floppy" in humidity and shade.
This perennial is a great "late" season bloomer. It can and often will bloom all the way to September. Wow! That is a great feature. I think if you put this flower with ornamental grasses it looks pretty cool actually. Sort of walking through a path in the woods.

Choose your variety carefully, make sure to check the tag. You want to be careful to pick the size you want. There are smaller versions that I could really see myself trying in the future. The most popular version I see in landscapes about 2 to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. That seems to be the "norm" or at least the most widely used variety.
Taking Care of-

When you purchase your Russian Sage make sure you DO water it until it is established. I would say for the first year. Then you shouldn't need to water it at all, or at least very little after that. Make sure to plant in FULL sun. This is NOT a shade plant. And I want to add, No Need to Fertilize.

In the spring I would cut your Russian Sage back, after you see a little new growth beginning. You could cut it all the way back to about a foot tall. That will encourage nice thick growth. Buggies don't seem to really even bother Russian Sage. DON'T divide Russian Sage if you want to propagate this plant. You can propagate by cuttings, but even that may be a little difficult. Cuttings don't take very easily, in my experience. You may have a different result than me. At the greenhouse the ratio of cuttings were 50/50. I have a good friend who has Russian Sage in her front yard in a rock wall. They look amazing. She has told me that they spread.

If you are looking for a dry hot plant, purple in color, that you don't have to water much... Run don't walk to your nearest garden center and pick up a Russian Sage! & as always, Happy Planting...


  1. I am trying to figure out if it is in fact Russian Sage that is growing in my yard. Does the russian sage produce a sticky or pinchy tiny ball.

  2. I planted one this spring in my front landscaping area. It is growing well; a happy looking plant. I notice its fragrant leaves. You had lots of information about it, thanks.

  3. I have found in my yard the Russian Sage that was already planted has been one of the best bee attractors, which makes it awesome in my book!