How to Grow Russian Sage & Care Guide

Russian sage (Perovskia Atriplicifolia) stands out in the yard with its silvery grey, fragrant foliage, and lavender-purple blossoms.

From the end of spring to the end of autumn, dense clusters of spikey blooms cover the landscape.

Russian sage can be used as a specimen plant or as a ground cover in open spaces. When it comes to cultivating Russian sage plants and caring for them, the process is simple.

Because of its preference for extremely dry environments, it is an excellent xeriscaping plant.

How to Grow Russian Sage

It is hardy in USDA zones 5–10, making it a good candidate for container gardening.

Choosing a position in full sun with well-drained soil of ordinary fertility is the best option. Russian sage may spread if grown in partially shaded areas.

In the early spring, plant young plants in rows 2 to 3 feet (0.5-1 m) apart.

Plants should be watered often during dry spells until they are established and thriving.

It’s better to use gravel as mulch around the plants than organic mulch because it allows more water to evaporate.

Russian Sage Care

There is very little maintenance required for Russian sage. Stakes or a peony ring are often required to sustain the plant’s height when grown singly.

However, when planted in a mass, the plants work together to provide support. Pruning is the most important part of care, although even this is up to you.

The Russian sage, which is a member of the mint family, spreads via runners and must be carefully maintained to prevent it from spreading to undesirable locations.

In the spring, remove suckers from the ground. Maintaining a healthy plant population requires regular divisions.


Full sun is ideal for growing Russian sage for the best results and most blooms possible.

The plant is more susceptible to collapse under shady situations.


These bushes do best in sandy or dry, well-drained soil, although they are susceptible to root rot in more wet, poorly-drained environments.

They prefer soils with a pH of 7 or above but can handle a wide range of pH levels (6.5–8.0).


Russian sage requires constant watering when it is just transplanted, but it is extremely drought-tolerant once it has established itself.

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In hot, dry places in your yard or garden, this plant will thrive. Russian sage will not thrive in sod that is either too moist or too poorly draining for it to develop well. 2

Temperature and Humidity

In zones 3 and 4, with some winter shelter, this native to Central Asia are usually hardy enough to make it through the season.

A semi-woody shrub in more temperate climates, this plant is actually a perennial that dies back to the ground every winter in zones 3 and 4.


A wide range of soil conditions is suitable for this plant, from dry to medium and well-drained. In the spring, you might apply a thin layer of compost.

Too much nitrogen, in particular, has a negative impact on the plant’s ability to grow.


Even in locations where Russian sage is evergreen, many gardeners choose to severely trim the plant each year.

The rationale for pruning is that the plant will grow into a fuller specimen the following year.

If the plant dies back each year in cold-winter regions, rigorous trimming is required.

In the fall, you can prune, but you may prefer to leave the silvery stems in situ for the sake of aesthetics. Pruning is done in early spring with this method.

When pruning, keep the stems between 8 and 12 inches long to ensure that there are plenty of growth buds left for the plant to resprout from.

If you live in an area where the plant is evergreen, you can trim back dead or underperforming stems in mid-spring.

Propagating Russian Sage

Although rooting stem cuttings can be used to propagate plants, it is a time-consuming method that is not always successful.

For a more reliable form of propagation, basal cuttings might be used. 4 What you need to know:

  • Starting in mid-spring, start keeping an eye out for new growth once the stems have been pruned back to 8-12 inches. One of the growing stems along the edge of the root ball should be cut away using a sharp knife or trowel so that a healthy piece of roots can be preserved.
  • To get the most out of your new cutting, plant it in an area that is well-drained, such as the garden or in a small pot.
  • Until new growth is seen, keep the potted cutting wet and set it in a well-lit area. It’s now time to transfer the rooted cutting to its new home in the garden.
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Every four to six years, a full division of the plants should be done by digging up the root ball, separating it into parts, and replanting.

Stagnant or fallen Russian sage branches may develop roots and begin growing as separate plants, which is another way the plant can self-reproduce.

They can be cut from the mother plant, dug up, and transplanted to new sites.

How to Grow Russian Sage From Seed

Sowing seeds from cultivars that have been formally named is not common because they don’t yield seeds that “come true” to their parent plants.

The seeds of pure species plants (non-named plants) can be sown at any time of the year to proliferate them.

In pots filled with a porous growing media, barely cover the seeds with soil before sowing.

Keep the growing medium moist, but not soggy, and place it in a protected area that gets plenty of light.

At a temperature of 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit, germination can take anywhere from one to four months.

Plants can be grown in larger pots when the seedlings are large enough for handling.

The seedlings should be hardened off for a week or two before planting in late spring if they were grown inside.

Potting and Repotting Russian Sage

Russian sage may thrive in any container with a well-draining potting mix, such as a cactus/succulent mix, despite the fact that container gardening is not the norm.

Potting mixtures that are too rich are not recommended for this plant.

This long-blooming Russian sage can be enjoyed on paved courtyards and patios by growing it in a pot In beautiful clay or ceramic pots, it can look lovely all year round, and in warm winter locations, it will provide year-round ornamental appeal.

Because of their exposed roots, perennials like Russian sage present a particular challenge to gardeners in colder climates.

As a result, after trimming back Russian sage plants for the winter, it’s preferable to move them to a protected position.

For the winter, you could bury the entire pot all the way to the rim. Alternately, you can store the plant in a cold frame, unheated porch, or garage until the next spring.

When a plant is ripe for division, it should be replanted. This is something that needs to be done on a regular basis for houseplants in pots.

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If you wish to revive the plant, you don’t need to do any winter preparation at all.

Plant crowns in cold-winter regions (zones 3 and 4) should be protected from freeze-thaw cycles by a winter mulch layer.

When new growth appears in the spring, be sure to remove the mulch right away so that moisture is not trapped around the roots.

It is fairly rare for Russian sage to die in extremely cold winters, even if it is mulched.

A Russian sage that fails to return after a particularly hard winter should not surprise gardeners in zones 3 and 4.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Root rot can occur if the plants are grown in moist, poorly draining soil, although the majority of common insects are repelled by these aromatic plants.

Wet winter soil is particularly harmful to plants because of their increased susceptibility to disease.

How to Get Russian Sage to Bloom

While Russian sage blossoms can last all summer long, they are best grown in the appropriate conditions to ensure their long-lasting beauty.

As these plants become leggy with few blooms if they don’t get a full six hours or more of direct sunlight each day, failure to bloom is usually connected to a lack of light.

In addition to affecting flower production, over-fertilizing can create lanky growth in plants, which reduces their ability to produce flowers.

Even a modest compost topdressing, which is typically recommended if your plants aren’t blooming as you’d like, might sometimes help.

It may take a full year or two for a new plant to become established and begin to blossom at its full potential.

Wait until the plant is two years old before being concerned about a lack of blossoms.

Common Problems With Russian Sage

Sprawling and floppy stems are the most prevalent criticism about Russian sage.

Hoop support or another method of staking may be necessary to maintain the plants upright in some cultivars.

Russian sage plants can also become lanky and prone to collapse if they are overfed or under-sunned.

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