Russian Sage Saturday

Russian Sage with Honey Bee

About the only flowering plant in my garden that survived this horrendous heat dome is Russian Sage. In fact, the large bushes have thrived, with little watering needed. How the bees do buzz among those four-foot tall branches by the front gate arbor. I try to avoid disturbing them at their work as I pass by on the way to the corner mailbox. They don’t seem to mind.

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is a bushy, woody-based deciduous perennial with long terminal panicles of small, lavender-blue flowers, borne on thin chalky-white stems clad with aromatic grey or silvery leaves. Quite drought and heat tolerant, it is one of those garden perennials that require little to no fussing over.

Of course, if they grow “too big for their britches,” sprawling over the edges of paths, cutting them back one-third is all that’s needed to encourage more upright growth. In fact, the most common complaint with Russian sage is sprawling, floppy stems. With some varieties, this is almost unavoidable, requiring a hoop support or other means of staking to keep the plants more upright.

I like to leave mine in place for winter color and shape under snow cover. Only in spring do I cut them to the ground as tiny new growth appears. Throughout spring and summer, Russian Sage will grow up to three to five feet tall. There is a shorter variety, “Lacey Blue,” that reaches only two feet, but lacks the drama of the taller “Blue Spires,” especially when planted en masse in the garden border.

Russsian Sage “Blue Spires”

What has survived — if not thrived — in your garden during this hot summer?


Celebrating just over fifty years of holy matrimony, I am blessed to be a mother of two and grandmother of seven. Much of my writing speaks to the culture and tradition of the Deep South, where I spent the first thirty-five years of my life before relocating to the Pacific Northwest. As a poet and essayist, I’ve published both online and in print media. I launched this INVITATION TO THE GARDEN blog the summer of 2017 on I look forward to hearing your stories, too!

8 thoughts on “Russian Sage Saturday”

      1. It looks okay, but fairly thin, although I can’t say I’ve paid much attention to the garden this summer. We had a horrible drought in July, but it greened up and flowered after. It’s just not as tall or lush as I remember from the first few years.


  1. I think I need to get my garden some Russian Sage! My salvia did really well, and then petered out…which is really the story for the rest of my garden, too. I experimented with older varieties of zinnia which thrived for a while. The relentless heat and drought really took its toll, but there’s always next year to look forward to and plan for!

    Liked by 1 person

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