Perovskia / Russian Sage
Tough, Resilient, and Beautiful
The Perovskia genus contains clump-forming perennials, commonly called Russian sage, grown for their attractive foliage and charming flowers. A highly popular landscaping plant, Russian sage has an open architecture of pale silvery stems and finely textured grayish-green leaves, giving it an airy appearance and a Mediterranean vibe. Its leaves are aromatic and release a pungent scent when crushed. Long-blooming, the plant sets whorls of tiny lavender-blue flowers along its long, slender stems, creating a soft, billowy cloud of color throughout summer, generally to first frost. The flowers make nice bits in floral displays, fresh or dried, and they support butterflies, honeybees, and hummingbirds. Russian sage resembles lavender but thrives in cold areas where lavender is unreliable.
Perovskia is a small genus of only 7 species, with Perovskia atriplicifolia being the only one currently available. P. atriplicifolia has a bushy, mounding habit and typically grows 2 to 4 feet high and about as wide, depending on cultivar. Cold hardy, easy to grow, and low maintenance, Russian sage is most at home in sunny locations with dry to medium moist, well-draining soil. Quite self-sufficient and resilient, this tough plant stands up to heat, drought, salt spray, and even poor soil and is often used in xeriscapes along with succulents and other drought-tolerant plants and ornamental grasses. It makes a great specimen, a middle- or back-of-the-border plant, or a low, linear hedge. Russian sage is deer and rabbit resistant and seldom bothered by pests or disease. This deciduous plant loses it leaves in winter, but it’s best to leave old stems in the garden until spring, cut them back to a foot, and fertilize before new growth appears.