A Guide for Growing Russian Sage
Contrary to what its name might imply, Russian sage is actually not an edible herb. The leaves of this plant are actually poisonous to humans and should never be consumed. The good news about this plant is that it is absolutely gorgeous to look at and has a divine smell that makes it a very popular addition to flower gardens. Russian sage is a hardy perennial that does well even in dry areas, which means that even the novice gardener can spruce up their yard or garden with this pretty plant.
At first glance, Russian sage looks as though it could be related to lavender. It has long stalks of ghostly purple flowers which grow in spiral formation around each stalk. The flowery stalks are accentuated by gray-green leaves. It is the leaves of this plant which carry the scent, which many liken to a mint-sage infusion. The scent can be made stronger by crushing a few of the leaves from this plant. The ideal environment for this plant would be in USDA zones five through nine. The flowers typically bloom in mid-summer, around July, and last through the autumn season.
Selecting a Location
For the most part, Russian sage is pretty flexible in regards to the location in which it is planted. An area that receives full sunlight will produce the best results, but partial shade is fine too. Try to avoid selecting a location that is in full shade, as it will greatly hinder the growth potential of this plant. It is important to bear in mind that Russian sage will grow to be quite tall—around three or four feet—and nearly three feet in spread, so the location where it will grow should be able to accommodate such a size. Consider planting it near a fence or more as a background piece to smaller or more vibrant plants. If the area that you live in receives quite a lot of rain, you might want to consider a different plant, as this plant can tolerate very dry soil but not overly wet soil.
The Planting Process
To plant Russian sage, you will need a gardening spade or a shovel, a bit of water, and a starter plant. If you cannot find this plant in your local garden nursery, you may be able to special-order it or purchase seeds from an online retailer. You may also want to have a bit of compost on hand if you are worried about the quality of the soil, although in most instances it really isn’t necessary due to the hardiness of this plant. Begin by digging a hole where the plant will go. Make sure that the hole you dig is double the width and depth of the roots of your starter plant. Use one hand to hold the roots level in the ground. The top of the roots should sit about a quarter of an inch from the top of the ground. Fill the soil in around the plant up to the half-way mark. Pour a bit of water on top of the soil and roots, fluffing the soil to ensure that the moisture distributes well. Gently pack it back down around the roots and resume filling the hole with the rest of the soil. Pack it gently around and on top of the roots. Add a bit more water to the soil after the plant is firmly in place. If you are planting from a seed, simply place the seed about half an inch into the ground, cover it with soil, and water the area.
In the spring, after the threat of frost has gone, the stalks should be trimmed down to about half a foot in length. This will produce the best growth during the spring and summer so that when the blooming period comes the stalks are nice and strong. The soil should not require additional watering unless the area experiences a great deal of heat and drought for a long period of time. One should take care not to overwater this plant!