How to Grow and Care for Russian Sage (Perovskia)

Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is an attractive, low-maintenance sub-shrub with silvery-grey foliage and tall stems of lavender-purple flowers from late summer to early autumn. From a distance it looks like a mass of hazy blue, which deepens to azure blue as it matures.

Drought-tolerant, it makes a great addition to herbaceous borders and gravel gardens, and works well growing alongside other drought-tolerant plants, including eryngiums, rudbeckias and echinaceas. The flowers are a magnet for pollinating insects.

How to grow Russian sage

Grow Russian sage in full sun in well-drained soil. Prune hard each year from mid- to late spring to encourage strong new growth that will carry flowers later in the year.

Where to grow Russian sage

Kniphofias and perovskia growing together in a border

Grow Russian sage in well-drained soil in full sun. It works well in dry gardens and gravel gardens.

How to plant Russian sage

Plant Russian sage at the same depth it was in its pot. Water well in the first couple of weeks after planting, to help it establish.

How to care for Russian sage

Watering a pot planted with Russian sage, hebe and anemone

Watering a pot planted with Russian sage, hebe and anemone

There’s very little need to water or feed Russian sage, as it’s extremely drought-tolerant and thrives in poor soils. Being a member of the mint family, Russian sage can out-grow its welcome, so remove runners as and when you see them, to keep its growth in check. Rejuvenate plants by dividing every three-to-five years.

In cooler regions, Russian sage may need winter protection, although don’t be alarmed if some top growth dies back, you’ll be pruning this back in spring anyway.

How to prune Russian sage

Russian sage is a woody sub-shrub. As it flowers on new wood, cut back hard in spring to encourage new growth (and therefore flowering stems) to form. Wait for the first signs of growth, and then simply cut back to around 20cm from the ground.

How to propagate Russian sage

Russian sage can spread by runners, but the offshoots do not transplant easily. However it does divide easily, so propagate new plants by division in spring or autumn.

Pests and diseases

Russian sage has no known pests or diseases in the UK.

Advice on buying Russian sage

  • Russian sage does best in full sun so ensure you have the right spot for it before buying
  • You may find Russian sage in a garden centre, but you’ll have more options online
  • Always check plants for signs of damage or disease before planting

Where to buy Russian sage