How to Divide Russian Sage

Overview

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is a sturdy, drought-tolerate plant with attractive silvery-gray foliage. In late summer, Russian sage will produce billowy clouds of tiny lavender flowers that bloom along the plant's long stems. Russian sage likes hot sunlight, but will also do fine in climates with cold, freezing winters. Although Russian sage prefers to be left alone and can be difficult to divide, successful division is often possible. Be patient, because Russian sage can be slow to establish roots. However, once established, Russian sage is a tough plant that will live in your garden for many years.

Step 1

Divide Russian sage in the spring while the plants are still small. Choose a cool morning on an overcast day so the roots won't dry out quickly, and so the newly-divided plant will have time to establish in its new location.

Step 2

Trim the clump of Russian sage with pruners or kitchen shears, leaving about 3 to 4 inches intact. Dig the clump of Russian sage with a shovel. If the clump of Russian sage is large, separate a smaller section with the edge of your shovel, and leave the remainder of the Russian sage plant in the ground.

Step 3

Lift the clump of Russian sage from the ground, and shake the plant gently to remove excess soil. Divide the clump into smaller sections, teasing the roots apart carefully with your fingers. Each division should be large enough to have four or five shoots, and each shoot should have several healthy roots.

Step 4

Dig a hole for each division, using a shovel or a trowel, and plant the newly-divided Russian sage in a sunny spot in your garden. Allow at least 18 inches between each plant.

Step 5

Water the Russian sage immediately, and keep the soil evenly moist for the first season. After the first season, Russian sage tolerates drought and only needs to be watered occasionally during hot, dry weather. Don't water excessively, as too must moisture can cause the Russian sage to rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruners or kitchen shears
  • Shovel
  • Trowel

References

  • University of Minnesota: Dividing Perennials
  • University of Wisconsin: Russian Sage
  • Brooklyn Queens Land Trust: Perennial Flowers
Keywords: russian sage, russian sage plant, divide russian sage

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.