This woody perennial or “sub shrub” is neither Russian nor a true sage. It is a terrific filler plant for the garden border with its silvery green foliage and bright violet-blue flower spikes that bloom from mid-summer into fall.
This so-called “sage” is a member of the mint family and when you brush by it, you’ll notice its strong menthol odor.
Russian sage requires at least six hours of sun. It prefers a lean, rocky soil, but regular garden soil is fine. It doesn’t like heavy clay soil, however. It does best in garden situations with great drainage such as along a retaining wall or curb.
Russian sage is drought-tolerant, deer-proof, and seldom troubled by disease or pests.
Pollinators love it. Bees and hummingbirds are especially attracted to the small, tubular flowers that blossom in rows along its stems.
Don’t fertilize it — doing so will encourage leggy growth and this sage has a tendency to spread wide and flop a bit. So, plant it among other tall perennials for support and for an attractive contrast. Try it with ornamental grasses, tall sedums, and mums.
It is best planted in the spring, rather than in the fall. Leave it up in winter as the silhouettes of the white-ish stems are quite attractive, then cut the whole plant down to the ground in March.
Some commonly available cultivars to try include ‘Blue Spire’, ‘Filigran’, ‘Longin’, and a dwarf cultivar ‘Little Spire’.
For more about Russian Sage, see the Fall 2010 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine.
Try growing Russian Sage in your garden today – you can grow that!
The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz.
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