If you have a hot, dry area of your yard (don’t we all?) consider Russian Sage. It is a gorgeous, ethereal plant with silvery green, lacy foliage that is topped with spikes of lavender blue flowers from July until frost. Russian Sage grows up to four feet tall and three feet wide, though some varieties are more compact. This is one of those plants in my garden that I pretty much ignore, other than admiring it.
Cultivation: Plant Russian Sage in full sun, in average to poor fertility soil, as long as it is well drained. Russian Sage can be planted at any time during the growing season.
Care: Russian sage is a very low-maintenance plant. Make sure they don’t dry out during their first season (but don’t overwater, either!) and after that they’re pretty tough plants. They don’t need to be fertilized or divided. The only care they need is that they should be cut back to 6 to 8 inches tall in early spring to promote bushy growth.
Propagation: Russian Sage is easily propagated by taking softwood cuttings in May or June. “Softwood” means the current year’s growth, before it gets hard and woody. The cuttings can either be kept indoors under lights or in a window, or outdoors in a sheltered spot. To take softwood cuttings of Russian Sage:
- Cut about 4 to 6 inches from the end of a stem, right below a leaf node.
- Remove any leaves from the bottom 2 inches or so of the stem.
- Dip cut end into rooting hormone.
- Plant in seed-starting mix (a combination of peat, perlite, and vermiculite-or buy a prepared mix from the store) in either flats or pots. Using a pencil, make a hole 1-2 inches deep, stick the end with the rooting hormone in, and firm the soil gently around the cutting.
- Water thoroughly.
- Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag, supported by sticks to keep it away from the cutting.
- Keep the soil moist, but not too wet. The cutting will root within a few weeks and can then be planted out in the garden.
Good companions for Russian Sage:
- Black Eyed Susan
- Butterfly Bush
- Purple Coneflower