The Russian sage is technically classified as a woody sub-shrub. These are actually quite pleasing aesthetically and due to that most people prune them annually to keep them short. This is why they are used mainly as if they were perennial flowers.

The Russian sage consists of small, purple-blue flowers which are finely cut laid out in tall spires. It has stems that are greyish white with leaves that are a kind of greyish green.  All of these features add a beautiful haze of colour to any garden from midsummer to fall, providing the perfect contrast with other flowers.

Basics for Planting Russian Sage

The Russian sage has stems that are semi-woody and hence they can tolerate drought and are easy to maintain. The plants can reach a height of 4 feet at maturity if they are not pruned regularly. The flowers are produced from June to September and their hazy blue makes this shrub a fixture on many landscapes.

Planting Site

  • The ideal site to plant the Russian Sage is one that has ample sun. Sunlight is a key ingredient to the growth of the Russian sage. 

  • Good drainage must also be present in the soil of that site so that the Russian Sage can be saved from Fungus and disease. 

  • The soil must be semi fertile for the Russian sage to thrive, it can grow in less than ideal conditions but it is preferable to have ample sunlight and fertility in the soil. For sites lacking these there is always fertilizer available.  


Planting Zones

The traditional planting zones have been countries in central Asia. According to the USDA they can be grown in regions that have a hardiness level of 5-9.


Common Varieties

The most common varieties of the Russian sage bush include:

  • Blue mist: the blue mist variety has flowers that are lighter in shade and bloom before other varieties.

  • Blue Spire: the blue spire has deeply cut leaves and its flowers are violet in colour rather than blue.

  • Filagran: this variety is known for its finely cut leaves that add to the beauty of the Russian sage sub-shrub.

  • Taiga: the Taiga can grow if un-pruned to 3 feet tall and wide. It is much less floppy than other varieties that have similar or more height. In bloom its flowers have a vibrant sky-blue colour. 

How to Plant Russian Sage

In order to get the best aesthetic results and develop a plant that is healthy one must know how to properly plant it. The Russian sage requires careful planning when being planted and the following tips will be useful for you in understanding how to plant a proper Russian sage:
  • All throughout the growing season you can set out container grown plants.

  • Be sure to space the plants evenly with a gap of at least 2 feet and no more than 3 feet apart for optimum spacing.

  • The soil must be prepared with care, use a fork and loosen the soil 12-15 inches deep and then mix a compost layer of 4 inches deep.

  • The whole dug should be twice the diameter of the pot the plant was in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place in the hole.

  • The root ball must be evenly and gently, filled around and firmed for the perfect result.

  • Be sure to end the process by watering the soil thoroughly. 

Russian Sage Care Tips

Following these tips and guidelines you are sure to have the ideal Russian Sage in your garden that will add to the beauty of the garden and compliment the flowers surrounding it.

Basic Care

The Russian sage is a Drought tolerant sub-shrub. This renders it low maintenance and for those who are in favour of xeriscaping their gardens this is a perfect candidate. The Russian sage has a long bloom period and that is a highly desirable characteristic for those who seek their flower beds to bloom for long periods.

  • The Russian sage with its minimal water care actually thrives in dry soil. Too much watering can actually damage this plant, once established. 

  • Every other year around fall season a shovelful of fertilizer (general-purpose) or compost should be scattered around the plant to maintain proper plant health.

  • The plant can grow to sub-shrub proportions or can be pruned regularly and cut and shaped to be treated like a flower. It is up to you on how you like your Russian sage to look.

  • Be sure to sniff out spent flowers to produce a second batch of fresh flowers and increase the attractive appearance.


Pruning Russian Sage

  • The ideal time as to when to prune the sage depends on how you want to use the plant. Depending on your strategy of using it as a flower or a sub-shrub you should prune around early spring or mid-September, the extent of the pruning depending on your choice.

  • The trimming strategies are twofold. The first one involves pruning down to a few inches above the ground in early springtime. The other approach is to wait until the plant stems start to fill up around mid-spring and thus identify dead stems and cutting them off.

  • Then you make the decision of how tall you want the plant to be. The taller the plant you start off with in spring the taller it will be in winter. The branches are much better looking in winter so people prefer spring to be the ideal trimming time.

  • Be sure to clip the damaged stems back into the ground. This will encourage growth of healthier shoots from the base of the plant. During the growing season, keep pruning dead stems to make the plant look at its aesthetic best.

The following video will guide you towards how to prune Russian sage in Spring: this will give you a comprehensive overview of what precautions to take and the steps to follow, be sure to click on the link below and listen carefully to the tutorial.


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