Using Russian sage in the landscape

Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is a 3 to 4 foot tall perennial shrub that produces small light purple to dark blue colored blooms on woody gray-green stems. USDA cold hardy in zones 4 to 9, Russian sage is drought tolerant and may bloom from June into September. Russian sage varieties, or cultivars, offer gardeners choices of bloom shades like these three varieties.

Blue spire

Deep blue blooms make the blue spire variety of Russian sage standout. Use this dense shrub as a backdrop in the landscape for sun-loving annual or perennial flowers with yellow blooms, like moonbeam coreopsis, or red or pink blooms of geranium.

Little spire

Little spire, as the name might depict, is a dwarf variety of Russian sage, growing less than 2 feet tall. The blooms are spaced farther apart on the stems than regular Russian sage. The purple blooms of little spire displays well in front of a fence or evergreen trees.


Filigran is a more compact variety of Russian sage, growing about 3 feet tall and wide, making it suitable for a small planting area in the landscape. Filigran has violet-blue blooms. Try purple coneflower behind and ornamental grass in front of this long blooming perennial.
Planting Russian sage

No matter what variety you choose, planting three or more in a group will help to emphasize this plant. Space the plants about 24 inches apart. Russian sage grown in a container can be planted anytime of the year, with spring or fall the optimal times. 

Choose a sunny, well-drained location to plant Russian sage. Dig the hole twice as wide as the container and as deep as the container. Remove the plant from the container and set it in the hole. The soil at the top of the plant’s root ball should be at ground level. Adjust the soil level in the hole if necessary. Backfill the hole with the soil removed from the hole. Water around the plant adding more soil if necessary to level out the surface.

Caring for Russian sage

Water regularly after planting or about every seven to 10 days if there is no rain. Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch like leaf mold or pine chips around the base of Russian sage, keeping mulch about 3 inches from the stem. The mulch will help to retain moisture and can help to block weed growth.

In the spring, cut Russian sage to a few inches above the ground. Russian sage can be propagated from cuttings. Use new spring growth for the cuttings.