Perovskia (Russian Sage)

Grey, silver plants soften the landscape if used wisely.

russian sage in garden

Photo: Duane Keys

Since it can also grow four feet wide, this aromatic sub shrub is a commanding presence in the garden.

Plants with grey foliage were prized by Gertrude Jekyll, one of the best known English gardeners of all time.  She taught us that grey, silver plants soften the landscape if used wisely.

Perovskia is a genus of only four species, and the best one is the native of Pakistan “Perovskia atriplicifolia,” which has small blue flowers on branching grey stems that grow up to four feet tall.

Focal Point

Since it can also grow four feet wide, this aromatic sub shrub is a commanding presence in the garden. One can be a focal point, and a grouping can create an impressive effect with a haze of blue when the plants bloom and skeletal silver architectural shapes in the fall and winter.

The common name is Russian Sage.  Bloom begins in July and continues through September.

Prima Donnas

Do not cut down or prune these sub shrubs until they begin to grow in summer.  Then you can distinguish old wood from new growth.

These plants are hardy, love sun and heat and are drought and pest resistant.  I have read that they combine well with other perennials, but in my garden I have found that they do best if they have plenty of room.  So I prefer them in a place where they are planted on their own where they can show off their statuesque charm without competition.  I encourage them to be prima donnas.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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