Russian Sage Plants

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

Russian Sage

Russian sage

Photo by: Shutterstock/loflo69

Shutterstock/loflo69

Related To:

Meet one of the perennial garden’s most fuss-free beauties: Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia). This non-native perennial flower puts on a spectacular show from summer through fall. Stems add interest to winter in regions where the snow flies. Consider drought-tolerant Russian sage for a low-maintenance, high glamour addition to your perennial gardens.

When Russian sage is in bloom, it’s the kind of plant that makes people slow down, look twice, and wonder, “What is that?” Its flowers create a purple haze, and when viewed up close, they become even more fascinating. Fuzzy and purple, the blooms are arranged along long, silver-white stems. The color contrast is artful and soothing, especially when it bursts into flower among midsummer’s bolder-hued bloomers, like bee balm, purple coneflower and blazing star.

Despite its name, Russian sage is not related to the botanical sages, like Salvia coccinea, Salvia greggii or ‘May Night’ Salvia. It’s also not related to the favored herb for poultry, Salvia officinalis. Rather, Russian sage is a member of the mint family, and like most mint relatives, it has square stems.

Those stems boast an eye-catching silver-gray hue that’s accented with gray-green leaves that are almost ferny in appearance. When bruised, leaves and stems have a distinct sagey fragrance. It’s one of the reasons—along with the fuzzy flowers—that deer and rabbits leave it alone. It provides just too perfumey a bite for these critters to nibble.

Unlike most mints, Russian sage doesn’t require moist soil to thrive—quite the opposite. It’s drought tolerant. This perennial flower prefers light, alkaline, even somewhat dry soil. Plants can grow in average, well-drained soil, but their preference is a sharply drained, droughty spot. Winter drainage is essential. Soils that stay waterlogged in winter are sure to kill Russian sage. Although Russian sage is hardy in Zones 4 to 9, plants don’t perform well in high humidity, so they tend to thrive more in Texas, the Desert Southwest and the Mountainous West, as opposed to the Deep South.

Several Russian sage varieties are available on the market. The straight species grows 3 to 5 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide. ‘Little Spire’ Russian sage is a smaller version, reaching a tidy 18 to 24 inches tall and wide. ‘Blue Spire’ Russian sage tends to grow more upright than the species with stems that reach 2 to 3 feet tall and wide.

Russian sage spreads by self-sowing if conditions are right and also by rhizomes. In some situations, gardeners report this perennial flower as being invasive. It is not, however, reported or recorded as such in the National Invasive Species database. In the garden, keep an eye out for spreading stems. Pull and clip them as you spot them.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Planting Russian Sage

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

Russian Sage Seeds

Discover the details of saving and planting Russian sage seeds.

Russian Sage

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

Pruning Russian Sage

Learn the how, when and why behind pruning Russian sage

Salvia Plants

Welcome salvia to your garden for some low-maintenance beauty.

Mexican Petunias: Plant With Caution

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

Ligularia (Leopard Plant): Our Favorite Flowers

Take off with these rocket-shaped flowers.

Fall-Planted Perennials for Easy Spring Color

Get a head start on spring by planting in the fall.

Using Pubescent Plants in Your Garden

Fuzzy leaves help protect pubescent plants from drying out, making them a beautiful, heat- and drought-tolerant addition to the garden.

Anise Sage

Deep blue flowers distinguish this hummingbird favorite.

On TV

Fixer Upper

7am | 6c

Fixer Upper

8am | 7c

Fixer Upper

9am | 8c

Fixer Upper

10am | 9c

Fixer Upper

11am | 10c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

House Hunters

1pm | 12c

House Hunters

1:30pm | 12:30c

House Hunters

2:30pm | 1:30c

House Hunters

3:30pm | 2:30c

House Hunters

4:30pm | 3:30c

House Hunters

5:30pm | 4:30c

House Hunters

6:30pm | 5:30c

House Hunters

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

Lakefront Bargain Hunt

8pm | 7c

Beach Hunters

9:30pm | 8:30c

Mexico Life

10pm | 9c

Mexico Life

10:30pm | 9:30c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

House Hunters

11:30pm | 10:30c

Beach Hunters

12am | 11c

Beach Hunters

12:30am | 11:30c

Mexico Life

1am | 12c

Mexico Life

1:30am | 12:30c

House Hunters

2:30am | 1:30c

Follow Us Everywhere

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