More Information About Perovskia
Perovskia is a small genus of subshrubs (7 species) from central and southwestern Asia. The most popular garden species, Perovskia atriplicifolia is not from Russia as the common name (Russian Sage) implies, but is instead from the Middle East (Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan) and Tibet. Also, Perovskia atriplicifolia is not a true sage, but is in the mint family...but it does have a distinct sage-like herbal scent.
Since Russian Sage was named Perennial Plant of the Year in 1995, it has increased in popularity by leaps and bounds. This once rare landscape plant can now be seen everywhere. There is a lot to like about a Russian Sage plant...in addition to the sage-like scent of the foliage, it is a blue flowering plant with spikes of tiny flowers all summer long. The sweet flowers are edible and make a great blue garnish on a salad. Russian Sage flowers also attract butterflies. The silvery foliage of russian sage is a great design feature and the long stalks make great cut flowers and cut foliage.
How to grow Russian Sage
Siting: Perovskia atriplicifolia is very heat- and drought-tolerant...perfect for a low maintenance garden, a xeriscape garden, or a rock garden. Russian sage plants are great in containers too.
Uses: Perfect for sites where an easy-to-grow, low maintenance, drought tolerant plant is needed. Russian sage is an airy plant and pairs well with succulents and grasses. Or grow it in large masses to cover an an area. Russian sage is a blue flowering perennial that blooms over a long period of time in the summer. It also tolerates pollution, so it is great for a city garden, a parking lot, or a median strip.
Soil: Russian Sage can withstand coastal salty soils and a wide range of pH levels including high pH. It does not like wet feet and must have well-drained soils to prevent rot. Sand or clay...Russian sage does not care as long as the soil is dry.
Sun: Lots. Too much shade promotes gangly growth with Perovskia atriplicifolia.
Fertilizer: Light and Lean. Just provide a shovel of compost whenever you feel like it. Russian sage is a light eater.
Water: Russian sage will happily grow in parts of the country with as little as 10" of rain per year. During the growing season, regularly spaced watering during dry spells will keep it looking its best. Too much water promotes rot...so keep it dry.
Pruning: Russian Sage can be cut back close to the ground (down to 12") every year in early spring when new growth emerges if you think it is too gangly. In milder climates though the stems will only need a slight trim to remove the winter-killed tips. Russian sage will spread via suckers which can be left in place to fill in an area or can be removed to keep a neater appearance.
Pests: Russian Sage is both deer and rabbit resistant. Generally pest free.
See also our blog posts about Russian sage