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Plant type: Woody, multi-stemmed sub-shrub
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 to 9
This woody multi-stemmed sub-shrub is a low-maintenance plant. Silvery-green delicate foliage is complemented by striking lavender-blue flowers. Produces 12-inch spiky blooms from July through frost; when in full bloom, creates a misty-blue haze. Has an airy habit. Flowerheads and silvery stems have added winter interest. Performs well even in hot and humid climates. Plant size reaches four to five feet tall by three to four feet wide.
How to use it: Dramatic in masses or as a specimen plant. For use in a mixed perennial border in the middle to back of the border. Suitable for xeriscaping or for use in rock gardens. Good for dried flower arrangements. Used effectively in combination with whites, yellows and silver foliage plants, including lamb's ear (Stachys byzantina 'Helene Von Stein') or wormwood (Artemisia x 'Powis Castle').
Culture: Tolerant of poor soil, drought and a range of pH, this plant can grow in a variety of conditions. Plant in well-drained soil in full sun. You can plant from spring until one month before frost. Plant may flop to one side; staking may help but is not necessary. In spring, cut back to about six to eight inches from the soil surface. In warmer climates, Russian sage benefits by deadheading to produce another flush of blooms. In colder climates, allow flowers to remain for added winter interest. Primarily propagated through cuttings; can be divided but may be slow in recovering. No serious pest or disease problems.
Special notes: Valued for its blue flowers, silvery stems and foliage, winter interest and tolerance of a variety of conditions. Produces a slight fragrance. Deer resistant.
Master gardener Maureen Gilmer shares tips for combining summer flowering perennials.