Cool Plant: September 17, 2009

Russian Sage
Perovskia atriplicifolia

Species Native Range: Middle East
Hardiness: USDA Zones 5-9
Mature Size: 3-5 feet tall; 3 feet wide
Exposure: Full sun
Soil: Well-drained
Drought Tolerance: Excellent
Ease of Culture: Easy

Russian sage is a perennial with tall spires of small lavender-blue flowers that bloom from late summer into fall. The silver leaves have a strong aromatic quality when crushed making this plant resistant to deer and rabbits. It has a similar appearance but is somewhat larger than lavender which often struggles in the wet climate of Georgia.

Plant Russian sage in full sun with at least six hours of continuous sunlight. Lesser amounts of sun may make the plant "floppy." Because Russian sage is considered an ornamental herb, the soil should be well to sharply drained. Plants growing in compacted red clay may suffer from crown or root rot. I recommend planting in a mixture of coarse sand or fine gravel mixed with native soil and organic amendments.

Use Russian sage in a mixed bed or border with other blooming shrubs, perennials and annuals. It can also used for plantings in herb or rock gardens and makes for a good cut flower in arrangements. Good companion plants include: 'Fireworks' goldenrod, Autumn sage (Salvia greggii), mums, asters, late-blooming annual black-eyed Susans, coneflowers, 'Autumn Joy' sedum and other late season flowering plants.

Even though Russian sage is somewhat woody at the base giving it the appearance of a small shrub, it should be pruned back to the ground after the first hard frost. Fertilize plants lightly when new growth appears in the spring.


Russian sage is usually readily available especially at this time of year when it's in bloom.

If you have comments or questions about this article, please email me.

Images & Drawings Copyrighted © 2009 by Theresa Schrum - All rights reserved