Russian Sage: End of Season Care
Dividing and Transplanting: With its woody stems and static habit, Russian sage is not a candidate for dividing. If you wish to propagate new plants, either take stem cuttings from shoots in spring or semi-ripe cuttings with a heel in summer; or look for little offsets at the base of the plant and using clippers and a trowel, remove them and replant.
Pests & Disease: There are no major disease or pest problems for Russian sage. The main concern for the gardener is stem or root rot caused by improperly siting the plant in wet conditions.
Overwintering: Gardeners in northern regions may wish to cut the plant back in the fall after the first frost and mulch with straw to protect it over the winter, taking care to ensure that the plant is not in an area that will collect water over the winter – which will kill it. Gardeners in warmer regions can let the plant overwinter as is and cut it back in the early spring.
Russian Sage: Extra Info
Companion Plants: Because of the wispy nature of Russian Sage, it is fabulous planted with a flower that can pick up the violet-blue of its many flower panicles, and ‘grow through it, such as Coneflower (Echinacea spp.), globe thistle (Echinops ritro) or tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis). It is also marvelous paired with a tall tawny grass like maiden grass (Miscanthus spp.) or Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), or contrasted with the strong vertical lines of ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora).
Consider planting Russian sage as a ‘hedge’ along a walkway, particularly in a gravel garden, where its color contrasts beautifully with the camel color of average pea gravels. Just make sure to allow plenty of room for expansion, as Russian sage loves to stretch its long arms in the garden.
Additional Uses: The foliage and flowers of Russian sage are aromatic, and have a calming effect upon the nervous system. It is used topically in alternative medicine as a fever reducer, and as a tea.
Bees love the many flowers of Russian sage, and during the summer it is alive with pollinators – so it makes a great addition to a pollinator-friendly garden. For those with gardens by the ocean, Russian sage is a great choice as it is salt-tolerant and thrives on poor soils.
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