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.
Prune away outer stems which have fallen flat to the ground in late summer or early autumn to prevent them from rooting.
Remove dead leaves from around the base of the plant in late fall. Leave upright stems standing through the winter.
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.
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.
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 Will Need
- Anvil pruners
- Flat-bladed shovel
- You can refresh your Russian Sage by replacing it with freshly propagated new specimens. Throw a shovel full of dirt over the base of several stems which have flattened to the ground in late summer, and allow them to root. Dig out the old plant and replace with the newly rooted plants.
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