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Perovskia atriplicifolia (photo courtesy of Laura Dunkin-Hubby)
Perovskia atriplicifolia (photo courtesy of Laura Dunkin-Hubby)

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Zone
Zones 2-24
Full Sun
Full
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Perovskia atriplicifolia

Russian Sage

Perennials, Shrubs, Flowers

This popular plant is neither a sage, nor is it from Russia. It is an airy-looking but tough plant native to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Tibet. Many upright grayish white stems are clothed in aromatic gray-green leaves. In late spring and summer, stems are topped with widely branched sprays of small lavender-blue flowers that seem to form a soft haze above the foliage. Mature clumps may reach 3–4 ft. tall and wide; they often colonize, spreading by underground stems to send up new clumps. Can be invasive where well adapted.

Several forms are sold; many are probably hybrids. Widely grown ‘Blue Spire’, with deep violet blooms, is sometimes sold as P. atriplicifolia ‘Superba’. For lighter blue flowers, grow ‘Blue Mist‘ or ‘Blue Haze’. ‘Filigran’ has silvery, very finely cut leaves. ‘Little Spire’ grows to slightly over 2 ft. high and wide, with a compact habit that helps stems to stay upright.

Takes any soil as long as drainage is good. Extremely resistant to heat and drought. Performs best in warm summers. To extend the bloom season and help prevent stems from flopping over, trim off spent blossoms. Cut nearly to the ground each spring before new growth starts.

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