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What Is Russian Sage?
Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is a low-maintenance, bushy perennial plant that blooms in small violet flowers throughout the summer. It is a drought-tolerant plant native to southwest and central Asia that is resilient and can thrive in most climates. Russian sage produces lavender flowers from mid-summer to the first frost of fall. It is very aromatic and attracts many pollinators like honeybees, hummingbirds, and butterflies.
Despite its name, Russian sage is not a true sage (or salvia) plant, but a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae). Russian sage is often used in xeriscaping—which is a style of landscaping that requires little to no water—making it a perfect addition to a rock garden alongside succulents and other ornamental grasses.
4 Russian Sage Varieties
There are several cultivars of Russian sage that differ in leaf shape, height. and color. Here is an overview of some varieties of Russian sage.
- Blue spire: Blue spire is the most common variety of Russian sage and grows to an average height of about three feet. Its fragrant flowers bloom in a dark purple hue.
- Little spire: Little spire, as its name suggests, is a more diminutive cultivar of Russian sage that reaches only about 18 inches in height.
- Filigran: Filigran grows fragile, lacey leaves. Its lavender flowers grow in swirls from stiff, upright, square stems.
- Blue steel: Blue steel is a durable cultivar of Russian Sage that is known for flowering within the first year after being planted from seed. This variety grows blue tubular flowers.
When to Plant Russian Sage
You can plant Russian Sage in the early spring indoors, six weeks before the final frost has passed. It is a durable plant that thrives in USDA zones 5–9. If you are growing Russian sage from a seed, begin your seeds indoors in the early spring and then transfer the seedlings to a garden as soon as the threat of the last frost has passed.
Russian sage plants are deciduous—not evergreen—but they can easily survive the winter, especially with the help of a protective layer of mulch over its root system. Leave the old stems for the cold seasons, and then prune them down to a foot in the late spring.