Plant Encyclopedia

Russian Sage

Perovskia atriplicifolia

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Russian Sage, shrub with silver-green foliage and lavender-blue flowers

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Russian Sage

For xeriscape projects, the Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is an excellent choice for your yard. This low-maintenance, drought-tolerant shrub has a long blooming period. Throughout the summer, you will be treated to small lavender flowers. When you need a durable shrub for your landscape, you cannot go wrong with this beautiful Russian sage.

Plant Attributes

This perennial features silver stems and feathery leaves. In the summer, the shrub blooms with lavender-hued flowers. The two-lipped, tubular flowers flourish along the 12-inch panicles. Its flowers are tiny but are closely spaced for a stunning impact in your landscape. Once the flowers have finished blooming, the bright calyxes remain for an additional layer of color. These plants can reach a height of 4 feet and spread out to 3 feet or more. Russian sages are known as fast growers, and they will quickly fill up your space.

Landscape Use

Since the Russian sage is a fragrant shrub, it will attract bees and butterflies to your yard. Due to the fragrance, deer and rabbits usually leave this sage alone in favor of other treats. Many people choose to plant Russian sage in rock gardens and border plantings for a boost of color. If you want to use this shrub as a specimen plant, make sure not to overpower it with too many showier flowers. You may want to plant the Russian sage in a back row for the perfect backdrop. The Russian sage provides an extra dimension of color and texture to those flower beds. With its fine texture, this sage excels in areas with contrasting plants and bold colors. Its cool colors will make warmer hues stand out in your yard. As you can tell, this sage is an excellent filler plant.

Planting & Care for 

Russian Sage

The Russian sage is a hardy shrub that requires little care from you. If you want bright flowers in the spring, this sage should be placed in full sunshine. Russian sage can thrive in clay soils, but it prefers alkaline soils with a pH of 7 or greater. When you plant Russian sage in your space, make sure it is in well-draining soil. Most new plants need plenty of water to establish in a yard, and the Russian sage is no exception. Once it is established, the Russian sage will become tolerant of droughts. They love medium to dry soils. For those living in dry and hot climates, the Russian will do exceptionally well in your garden. The Russian sage excels in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. If you live in zone 4, this plant will need some protection during the harsh winter season. Russian sage can adapt to poor soils, but you might want to add a light layer of compost in the springtime. Since it is a taller plant, make sure to place stakes in your yard to prevent this sage from falling over. Russian sage spreads by underground runners, and you might want to monitor the yard to prevent it from expanding into undesirable areas. You can pull up the suckers in the early spring to curb its spread. For a healthier shrub, it is important to divide the plant every six years. Russian sage is a low-maintenance plant, but you will want to prune this species for a better appearance. If you want a bushier plant, pruning should be done on an annual basis. However, pruning is not required, but any dead branches should be removed. Many landscapers leave the silver branches on the shrub for added interest to that winter landscape. Spring is the best time to prune the Russian sage. If you trim in the early fall, there is a chance your plants could start producing new growth. Once the cold winter weather comes to town, a hard freeze could kill all that new growth on your shrub.

Additional Information

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Russian Sage

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You will want to make this resilient plant a mainstay in your summer garden. While it starts slow in the spring, the Russian sage makes a bold statement during the summer. With its silver-green foliage and lavender-blue flowers, you will want this magnificent shrub for your landscape. If you want to add this tough sage to your inventory, we are ready to assist at Arbor Valley Nursery. Our team can help you find the right plants for your next landscaping project. From trees to flowers, we have the expertise that will help you dazzle your customers. For more information about this Russian sage, please fill out the contact form.

Plant Features

  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Watering Needs: Once established, water occasionally; more in extreme heat or containers.
  • Botanical Pronunciation: pe-ROF-ski-a a-tri-pli-si-FO-li-a
  • Deciduous/evergreen: Deciduous
  • Growth rate: Moderate
  • Average landscape size: Moderate growing, reaches 5-6’ tall and wide
  • Special features: Easy Care, Fast Growing, Improved Pest and Disease Resistance, Waterwise
  • Foliage color:  Gray-green
  • Blooms: Summer
  • Flower color: Purple
  • Flower attributes: Flowers for Cutting, Showy Flowers
  • Garden style: Cottage, Mediterranean, Rustic, Xeric
  • Design Ideas: This lovely airy plant has the rangy character of Western sagebrush. Use it in dry landscapes with other desert plants or in gardens filled with natives. Very nice background in the cottage garden. A valuable plant for the Santa Fe style or even as a Mediterranean plant for that Tuscan garden of your dreams. Plant as singles, in clusters to intensify its presence, or in a linear mass for knot gardens or small divider hedges.
  • Companion Plants: Coneflower (Echinacea); Butterfly Bush (Buddleja); Milkweed (Asclepias); Bee Balm (Monarda); Aster (Aster)

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