How to Grow Russian Sage: The Complete Russian Sage Flower Guide

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Botanical Name
Salvia yangii (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
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Planting, Growing, and Caring for Russian Sage

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This eye-catching summer bloomer is a favorite for pollinators! Learn how to plant and grow Russian sage in your garden.

About Russian Sage

This lovely bluish-purple perennial was once in its own genus, Perovskia (named after a Russian general from the 1800s), but has more recently been put into the Salvia genus alongside other sages. Despite its common name, the plant is not native to Russia!

Russian sage grows 3 to 4 feet tall and produces purple-to-blue flowers from early summer to mid-fall. The textured gray-green leaves on silver-to-white stems are aromatic, producing a menthol-like scent when crushed. 

Use Russian sage in the middle or back of a border where the silvery foliage and soft-colored flowers add a Mediterranean feel to the landscape. The plant is also perfect as a filler plant or for separating flowers with stronger colors.  


Plant Russian sage in full sun and in well-drained soil. Consistently wet soils should be avoided, as this drought-tolerant plant prefers to be kept on the drier side. Amend the planting site with compost or aged manure to improve drainage if necessary. 

When to Plant Russian Sage

  • Plant container-grown plants in early spring if possible, setting them at the same depth as they were in the pot. 
  • Russian sage can be grown from seed, but germination may take 1 to 4 months.

How to Plant Russian Sage

  • Space plants about 18 inches apart. 
  • Water regularly during the first growing season to establish the root system. 
  • Mulch with organic compost to protect in winter. 

Propagating Russian Sage 

A mature plant will send out runners. Remove runners with strong roots from the parent plant using sharp scissors. Replant the runners in small pots with potting soil. 

  1. Take 3 to 4-inch long softwood cuttings from a stem or branch. 
  2. Dip the bottom in rooting hormone.  
  3. Place the cutting in a pot with moist potting soil. 
  4. Cover with clear plastic and place on a sunny windowsill. 
  5. After a few weeks the cutting should be rooted. 


  • Established plants will tolerate drought very well. Plants will rot if the soil is too moist. 
  • Young, unestablished plants may flop a bit but can be staked or planted near other plants that will support its tall flower stalks. 
  • Don’t cut back stems in the fall. Cut them down to about 1 foot in the spring. 
  • Mulch with organic compost when new growth begins in spring. 
  • Divide plants every 3 to 4 years. 
  • Prune new growth in early spring to about 10 inches above the soil to encourage thicker growth and more blooms.


It’s easy to dry Russian sage! Cut off the long spikes when in full bloom, tie with a string and hang upside down for about a week until stems leaves and flowers are dry. 

Russian sage spires add sweet fragrance and style to fresh flower arrangements. Cut Russian sage stems in the morning and place in water. 

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Wit and Wisdom

  • The genus (Perovskia) was named c. 1840 after B. A. Perovski, a Turkestani governor of the Russian province of Orenburg. 

  • Russian sage is native to Central Asia and Tibet at elevations up to 8,000 feet. 


  • Russian sage is naturally resistant to insect pests, although aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, and leafhoppers can occasionally do damage.  
  • The plant is resistant to rabbits and deer
  • Stem or root rot can be a problem in wet soils.

Cooking Notes

Russian sage is related to the culinary sage (Salvia), but it is best used as an ornamental plant and not recommended for cooking. The flowers are edible, however, and can be tossed in salads.

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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