Russian Sage

This award-winning perennial's lavender flowers are lovely in cottage gardens and as border plants.  

Related To:
Russian Sage in Garden

Russian Sage in Garden

Russian sage

Photo by: Shutterstock/loflo69

Shutterstock/loflo69

By mid- to early summer, tall, graceful spires of small, lavender-blue flowers start to appear in the garden, carried on silvery-gray stems with gray-green foliage. Perovskia atriplicifolia, commonly known as Russian sage, is a handsome shrubby or herbaceous perennial that blooms into the fall.

Like other members of the mint family, its leaves are aromatic when crushed, and the plants have the square stems found in many of its relatives. Despite its name, it’s not a type of sage.

Russian sage is easy to grow and cold hardy to USDA zones 5 to 9. It grows best in warm climates and performs even when the humidity is high. The plants also tolerate clay or average soils, as long as the drainage is good, but they need full sun to produce lots of flowers and sturdy stems that won’t flop over as they grow taller.

Because of its ability to withstand periods of drought, Russian sage is a good choice for xeriscaping. It’s also rabbit and deer resistant, and seldom has problems with pests or diseases.

Mature plants can reach 3 to 5 feet in height with a spread of 2 to 4 feet. Since Russian sage grows as clumps, space the plants about 3 feet apart, or 3 feet away from other plants in the garden, to give them room to spread.

Thanks to its low maintenance and showy, tubular flowers, Russian sage is a past recipient of the Perennial Plant Association Plant of the Year Award.

Try using this nearly carefree plant in your perennial border, where it will bloom for a long period of time. Its long wands, studded with blooms, give the plants an airy, cottage garden feel, and its blue color contrasts nicely with pink roses, begonias, phlox, lemon yellow lantanas, coreopsis, marigolds, purple English lavender, silvery lamb’s ear or artemisia. It’s also lovely planted alongside yellow rudbeckias and ornamental grasses. 

Because Russian sage is a finely textured plant, use it in masses and its colors will stand out. Viewed from a distance, the flower spikes will look like a soft, blue haze. Hummingbirds, butterflies and bees are often drawn to them.

If the stems of your plants start to lean over—which they’re prone to do if they’re not getting adequate sunlight—stake them as needed. The next spring, prune them to six to eight inches above the ground to encourage new growth. The dried flowers are pretty in indoor arrangements.

If you prefer not to cut the plants back, let the faded flowers remain, and they’ll add interest and color to the winter landscape.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Anise Sage

Deep blue flowers distinguish this hummingbird favorite.

Planting Russian Sage

Learn what you need to know to plant Russian sage successfully.

Russian Sage Plants

Discover a perennial flower you can count on for long-season color.

Russian Sage Seeds

Discover the details of saving and planting Russian sage seeds.

Pruning Russian Sage

Learn the how, when and why behind pruning Russian sage

Mexican Petunias: Plant With Caution

Whether you call them hardy petunias, perennial petunias or Mexican bluebells, this pretty petunia has a wild side.

Aster: Our Favorite Flowers

These bright daisy-like blooms are the stars of the late summer and fall garden.

African Lily: Our Favorite Flowers

Learn about this clumping evergreen that blooms in late summer or early fall.

Delphinium: Our Favorite Flowers

In this HGTV Gardens Flower of the Day feature, learn where delphinium grows best and why you might want to add it to your garden.

'May Night' Salvia

Savor the deep purple blooms of woodland sage.

On TV

Log Cabin Living

6:30am | 5:30c

Log Cabin Living

7:30am | 6:30c

Desert Flippers

12:30pm | 11:30c

Desert Flippers

1:30pm | 12:30c

Desert Flippers

2:30pm | 1:30c

Desert Flippers

3:30pm | 2:30c

Flip or Flop

4:30pm | 3:30c

Flip or Flop

5:30pm | 4:30c

Flip or Flop

6:30pm | 5:30c

Flip or Flop

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Flip or Flop

8pm | 7c

Flip or Flop

8:30pm | 7:30c

Flip or Flop Atlanta

9:30pm | 8:30c

House Hunters

10pm | 9c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

House Hunters

11:30pm | 10:30c

Flip or Flop Atlanta

12:30am | 11:30c

House Hunters

1am | 12c

House Hunters

2:30am | 1:30c

Flip or Flop

3:30am | 2:30c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.