How to Take Care of a Overgrown Russian Sage


Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is a hardy, drought-resistant member of the mint family, though it grows with a slightly woody, shrub-like habit not unlike garden sage (Salvia officinalis). Russian sage plants can reach three feet high and just as wide, with an open, airy habit, gray-green foliage and modest blue-purple floral spikes that give an impression of a colorful mist. The plant is highly aromatic, which deters deer and rabbits from munching on it. Overgrown Russian sage can get straggly looking, but the plants can be revived with timely pruning and division.

Step 1

Prune away outer stems which have fallen flat to the ground in late summer or early autumn to prevent them from rooting.

Step 2

Remove dead leaves from around the base of the plant in late fall. Leave upright stems standing through the winter.

Step 3

Cut last year's stems down to about 6 to 8 inches from the ground in early spring using anvil pruners. Inspect the heavier woody stems at the base, and remove any that seem rotten or are not showing signs of budding.

Step 4

Divide the plant base if it is still too large for its location after cutting back. With a flat-bladed shovel, sharply dig straight down through the plant and root stock at the desired division point.

Step 5

Remove the excess portion of the plant. Mix one part sand and one part compost and refill the hole left from the division removal with this mixture. Plant the removed portion elsewhere or discard it in your compost pile.

Things You'll Need

  • Anvil pruners
  • Flat-bladed shovel
  • Sand
  • Compost


  • Plant of the Week: Russian Sage, Arkansas Cooperative Extension
  • Russian Sage, Colorado Cooperative Extension
  • Russian Sage is Not Foreign to Perennial Gardens, Iowa State U. Extension

Who Can Help

  • Perennial All Stars, Jeff Cox, Rodale Press
Keywords: russian sage, overgrown sage, divide russian

About this Author

Cindy Hill has practiced law since 1987 and maintained a career in freelance writing since 1978. Hill has won numerous fiction and poetry awards and has published widely in the field of law and politics. She is an adjunct instructor of ethics and communications.