Plant of the Month: Perovskia atriplicifolia

An attractive planting of Russian Sage with Liatris

Russian sage  is one of the ultimate garden workhorses. It begins blooming in July and continues into September. Tall and airy, it looks spectacular in groups, but also looks stunning with grasses or perennials, especially white phlox or pink roses.

Perovskia requires little care. It insists on full sun, in order to prevent drooping, but it tolerates drought very well,  making it an ideal choice for a sunny, dry location. Perovskia should be cut back hard in either the fall or the spring (leave about 3″ on each branch above the main stem). Pinching the branches back, until the plant has reached 12″ of new growth in the spring, will result in a fuller plant.

Perovskia atriplicifolia is the species plant. It can grow to 4′ tall and 3′ wide. A shorter selection is Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Little Spire’, which grows to 2′ tall by 18″ wide. Perovskia ‘Longin’ grows as tall as the species but only 18′-24″ wide. Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Filigran’ grows to the same size as the species but is more upright and has heavily dissected foliage. Regardless of the cultivar, Russian sage is a cooling garden presence during the dog days of summer.

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