Pruning Russian Sage
A Good Reason For Pruning Russian Sage
Though grown as a showy ornamental, pruning Russian sage at the beginning of its growing season can make all the difference between having an attractive plant and one that turns heads. Russian sage, or Perovskia, is a woody shrub which has become a favorite with landscapers. It is often found alone or planted in widely spaced groups surrounded by a mulch of bark or pebbles.
Showy With Ornamental Grasses -A hardy perennial when grown in USDA zones 5 through 9, the plant is often grown with various types of ornamental grasses as companion plants. It is especially attractive when placed near ponds or streams, but is also used along the sides of buildings and in parking area dividers. The foliage is usually kept on the plant over the winter due to its attractiveness, even when dry. Pruning Russian sage back to about 6 inches from the ground at the time new growth is starting in the spring, will not only add to the attractiveness of the plant by removing the old foliage, but will encourage the plant to bush out even more than it did the year before.
Summer Pruning Is Optional - Pruning Russian sage can also be done during the summer months if a second growth of blooms is desired. This isn't absolutely essential, and there is not any guarantee that dead heading will always result in a new crop of blooms, but may be worth a try. Otherwise just leave the existing flower heads in place until the following spring. This plant is extremely hardy, and seems to like a nice winter chill to perform at its best. It is a multi-stemmed plant having long stems with gray-green slightly-scented foliage and lavender blue flowers, that on a well shaped plant seem to hover above the foliage in a haze. Expect a plant that will grow to 4 feet in height with a spread of about 3 feet. Flowers typically appear in July with the bloom continuing through the fall.
Three Preferred Varieties - Perovskia is a very easy plant to grow. It will perform in a variety of soil types, especially in poor soil. It is drought tolerant but should be kept watered, though not over watered, until it has become firmly established. “Perovskia Login" is a preferred type as it tends to remain quite upright. Other varieties often have a tendency to fall to one side or another. A hybrid, "Blue Spires" also has an upright habit, and is one of the more common varieties found in nurseries. If you're not familiar with Russian sage it may be because it was virtually unknown in the United States 10 years ago. “Blue Spires" is a European cultivar, which is noted for keeping a good shape, and also popular because of its dark blue flowers. There are a number of varieties of Russian sage which are not all that spectacular, or even attractive, so it may pay to stick to Blue Spires or a semi-dwarf companion, "Little Russian Spires", which features smoky-blue flowers. This variety will typically bloom until frosty weather sets in.
Feather Reed Grass Makes A Great Companion - Not pruning Russian sage in the spring, or planting it in fertile soil, are probably the two best ways to ensure that you'll be unsatisfied with the performance of the plant. It appears to delight in bad soil, and aside from its annual spring haircut, also appears to thrive on neglect. That doesn't mean you don't need to water it, or keep it's neighborhood relatively weed free, but this plant can take care of itself, and once established, doesn't need the tender loving care that so many plants require. For maximum effect, try a mix of two or three Perovskia plants and a like number of Karl Foerster Feather Reed grass plants. You'll get the best effect if the plants are placed 3 to 4 feet apart, or even more. This is a very attractive combination when the two are planted alternately in a row.