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Perovskia Atriplicifolia | Grow and Care for Russian Sage

The Perovskia Atriplicifolia, more commonly known as Russian Sage, is a clever addition that has been used for centuries by landscapers. It’s low maintenance and offers gorgeous lavender-like flowers and softly fragrant leaves.

It’s not hard to find some great inspirations when it comes to striking landscaping and gardening ideas. There are so many plants that mesh well together to create a gorgeously, green and colorful garden landscape.

Easy-to-grow, easy-to-care for – here’s everything you need to know to have stunning Russian Sage shrubs in your garden. 

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Perovskia Atriplicifolia Grow and Care for Russian Sage

Genus:

Perovskia (Salvia subgenus)

Species:

atriplicifolia

Common Names:

Russian Sage

Location:

Outdoor

Type: 

Deciduous perennial

Growth:

1.2m x 1.2m

Sun Requirements:

Full sun

Foliage Color:

Silvery-green

Flower Color:

Blue / Purple

Flowering:

Late summer

Fruit:

None

Hardiness Zones::

Low

Poisonous for Pets:

Non-toxic to cats and dogs

What is Russian Sage?

What is Russian Sage

Russian Sage is a deciduous perennial or sub-shrub deriving from the Mint family. This plant has a woody base, with slim, grey-green leaves and extending tubular purple flowers.

In look and application, you could say that the Russian Sage plant is quite reminiscent of the good, old garden staple, Lavender. Growing well in most soil conditions, the perovskia plant reaches approximately 3 to 5 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide. 

That’s why it’s great for low lying edges and hedging around your garden – its spread, and growth rate are quite high in comparison to other garden plants. 

Perovskia Atriplicifolia Plant Features

Native to the Himalayas and Western China, the plant was actually named in honor of the Russian General V.A Perovski. Russian Sage blooms best in full sun situations and will remain semi-evergreen throughout the year.

You will find some foliage dying off in winter months. This is normal and you’ll find that the woody base will always stay intact, ready to refresh in the spring and summer month. 

More so, the perovskia offers a lovely, long blooming cycle and produces an incredibly nectar rich pollen which will definitely attract a variety of butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden. 


How to Grow Perovskia Atriplicifolia

Russian Sage is a drought tolerant, complimentary garden plant which grows rather well in pretty much any kind of soil. Whether growing in particularly dry soil or clay soil, the most important factor is that you’ll want to give your perovskia plenty of sunlight. 

Perovskia is usually grown in gardens from a container plant, however, they can also be grown seeds or from a cutting. Here’s how:

Propagating Russian Sage from a Seeds

  • This is a great, inexpensive option to propagate Russian Sage. However, patience will be the key component. 
  • Seed germination can take up to 4 months and it may be years before your plant will even begin to bloom. 
  • Be sure to check the soil in which your seed is planted in. It will need to remain moist and in humid conditions.  

Russian Sage Propagation from a Cutting

  • This can be done by taking tip cuttings from an existing, strong and healthy perovskia plant. 
  • Place your tip cutting to root into liner trays which should be filled with pre-moistened, well-draining soil. 
  • Be sure to feed the soil with a nitrogen water soluble fertilizer within the first 10 to 14 days.  
  • Perovskia plants prefer high-humidity over very wet soil. 
  • You can ensure consistent humidity by placing your tray over wet pebbles.

Planting Perovskia in Your Garden

Perovskia in the garden
  • Re-planting performed in late fall or early spring is optimal for strong, resilient plants. 
  • You will want to ensure your soil is very well draining. 
  • When planting, be sure to leave at least 2 feet of space between plants. This will give them adequate space to grow and spread. 
  • It is recommended to divide plants and re-plant every 4 to 6 years. 

Russian Sage Care Guide

Caring for your Russian Sage is relatively easy. As it is a drought tolerant plant, semi-regular watering will suffice. Newer plants will require more water during their first few growing cycles.

Be sure that soil has time to dry out between watering. Over-watering can cause root rot, although not common. Pest and Disease problems are largely unheard and your perovskia plant will grow quite happily when left outdoors. 

Should you come across a common bug or mite or two, there are luckily a variety of easy ways to naturally treat garden pests. Your Russian Sage plant will, however, attract plenty of wildlife to your garden. 

You can expect bees, hummingbirds and butterflies to make an appearance. None will do any damage to your plant. You’ll simply be supporting your local ecosystems. 

The plant is also quite tolerant to other animals, like rabbits and deer, who may be attracted to the fragrant foliage. The most important factor in perovskia plant care will be regular pruning, in late winter or early spring. 

How to Prune Perovskia Atriplicifolia

How to Grow Perovskia Atriplicifolia
  1. When pruning, make use of a sharp set of pruning shears for a clean cut.
  2. Cut back about 6 to 8 inches of foliage, down to the woody framework. This will spur new growth.
  3. Remove any thin twigs or branches.
  4. If possible, cut back any older stems growing close to the soil. This will encourage the growth of young shoots. 

If you don't have one on hand or in need of a replacement, check out our review of the best pruning shears available online.


Uses for Russian Sage

While we’ve spoken extensively about the incredible landscaping uses Russian sage offers, the plant offers far more uses than you would think. You can use old leaves and flowers to create some lovely, scented potpourri for inside your home.

Alternatively cut off flowered stems and leave to dry. These dusty-grey and purple stems go really well with white or pink flower arrangements. Its fragrant leaves have been seen used in a variety of herbal remedies and mixes over the years.

Plus, Russian sage can actually be ingested (in small doses). Apparently, it’s even been used to infuse some Russian Vodkas. Massage Oil blends have long made use of perovskia leaves, as they stimulate circulation and soothe achy muscles. 

You can even make your own massage oil at home, using the leaves from your very own,  home grown plant. Moreover, leaves of the Russian Sage plant are also said to blend incredibly with tea mixes. Common combinations for teas include:  

  • Elderflower
  • Spotted Bee Balm
  • Wild Bergamot
  • Yarrow

In its medicinal application, mixes with perovskia plant leaves have been used to treat a variety of everyday ailments including stomach discomfort, fevers as well as common cold and flu symptoms. 

Here’s how you can alleviate congestion using perovskia leaves from your own back yard: 

Using Perovskia Leaves to Treat Congestion & Bronchitis Symptoms

uses for russian sage

With expectorated properties, the perovskia leaves can help to ease the symptoms of bronchitis, and other chest-affecting viruses. 

Here’s how:

  1. Pick a handful of fresh leaves from your perovskia plant. 
  2. Boil a kettle with about 750 ml of water. 
  3. Once boiled, pour hot water into a big bowl with the perovskia leaves. The hot water will cause them to become more fragrant and excrete oils. 
  4. Sit with your head over the bowl. 
  5. Place a towel over your head and the bowl. 
  6. Sit for at least 5 minutes inhaling the hot, fragrant steam. 
  7. This will help to clear nasal and throat passages. 
  8. It is recommended to keep your eyes closed to avoid irritation and support relaxation. 

It is important to note that ingesting large amounts of any part of the perovskia plant can be toxic. When considering ingesting for medicinal purposes, please consult your doctor first. 

When starting your perovskia growing journey, be sure to guarantee well-draining soil and lots of sunlight for an optimally blooming shrub. Take the time to prune in the winter months as this will ensure the growth of bigger and brighter foliage and flowers.


Perovskia Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat Russian sage?

You can eat every part of Russian sage plants. Despite being a fairly distant relative of both mints and salvias (sage) they have a beautiful flavor that shares the earthiness of sage and the fresh sweetness of mint.

The flowers can be eaten in summer too as a garnish on salads.

How do you harvest Russian sage?

To harvest Russian sage, pick young leaves in spring, or use the flowers and mature foliage in summer for a deeper flavor. To use Russian sage as an intensive crop, it will need cutting back in mind spring to encourage fresh growth, and alter flowering, making more of the foliage as it grows through early summer.

Is Russian sage easier to grow than lavender?

Russians age is a popular alternative to lavender in wetter regions, as it can cope with higher rainfall, and doesn’t mind sitting in slightly damp soil for a short time.

However, lavender has a longer flowering season, and packs a more powerful fragrance in the garden, with a more traditional Mediterranean look.

Click here for our ultimate guide on how to grow and care for lavender

Is Russian sage invasive?

Russian sage is not invasive but does spread via runners underground in a similar way to mint, meaning it will need some control every couple of years.

However, due to the relatively short lifespan of the Russian Sage, some runners should be allowed to develop to produce new plants that will replace faded plants.

How long does Russian sage live for?

Russian sage will be a productive and bountiful garden plant for around 5 years from seed but will continue living as a woody shrub for many years past that. For a more vivid summer display, replace faded plants after 3-5 years.


Wrapping Up Perovskia Atriplicifolia Growing Guide

So, now you know the many incredible ways that you can use the perovskia atriplicifolia in your garden, and even some extra uses in your home. Learn to love your garden again, with the best sights and smells around. 

Fragrant and largely carefree and fabulous to look at, Russian Sage plants are not only aesthetically pleasing, they really can function as so much more. 

About the Author Mabel Vasquez

Mabel has enjoyed a long career as a horticulturist, working in nurseries and greenhouses for many years. Although she loves all plants, Mabel has developed a particular passion over the years for herb gardens and indoor plants. Mabel has since retired from her horticulture career and loves sharing her many years of experience with our audience here at Sumo Gardener.

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