Plants

Russian sage, blue spire

Perovskia atriplicifolia

Verena Schmidt Verena Schmidt

The Russian sage, also known as the blue spire, decorates rock gardens with its deep blue labiate flowers. We show you how to plant and care for it.

Growth type
  • half shrub
Growth height (from)
from 100.00cm to 200.00cm
Growth width (from)
from 50.00cm to 100.00cm
Growth characteristics
  • upright
  • loosely
Flower color
  • purple
  • blue
Flowering time (month)
  • August to September
Flower shape
  • lip-shaped
  • panicles
Leaf color
  • green
page format
  • ovoid-lanceolate
  • sawn
Sheet properties
  • fragrant
Fruit shape
  • nut fruit
Light
  • sunny
Soil type
  • stony to sandy
Soil Moisture
  • dry
ph value
  • alkaline to weakly acidic
Lime compatibility
  • lime-loving
Nutrient requirements
  • low in nutrients
Humus
  • low humus
Decorative or utility value
  • Flower Decoration
  • Nectar or pollen plant
Winter Hardness
  • hardy
Climate zones according to USDA
  • 7
areas of life
  • FR1
Use
  • Single position
  • Group planting
  • Rose companion
  • Dry stone walls
Garden style
  • Flower garden
  • natural garden
  • Stone Garden

Origin

The Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), also known as the Blue spire or Silver perovskia, is one of seven species of shrubs from the genus Perovskia within the family of the lamiaceae. Subshrub originally occurs in steppe areas and dry forests in Afghanistan, the Himalayas and Tibet. The species came to Europe in 1904 and is named after the Russian general and governor Vasilij Perovskij (1794-1857).

Growth

The Russian sage is a subshrub that grows loosely and upright and anywhere between 3.28 and 6.56 feet high during the flowering period.

Leaves

Perovskia atriplicifolia forms rod-shaped, cylindrical and silvery-hairy shoots. The leaves are 1.18 to 2.36 inches long, ovate-lanceolate with rough and irregular serrations. At first they are hairy, later often bald and covered with yellow glands on both sides. The shoots and leaves smell pleasant.

Flowers

From August to September the medium to deep blue labiate flowers appear, which form a panicle-like, up to 19.68 inches long inflorescence with two to six flowers in so-called pseudo whorls.

Bumble bee on the flowers of a Russian sage

The blue labiate flowers of the silver shrub are a welcome source of food for bumblebees and other insects

Fruit

0.039 to 0.078 inch long nutlets are formed as fruits. They are surrounded by a 0.19 to 0.23 inch long white felt goblet.

Location

Similar to its natural habitat, in dry steppe zones, Perovskia atriplicifolia also thrives in our garden in a location that’s warm and receives full sunlight - ideally in the rock garden.

Soil

The soil should be dry, very well drained, slightly acidic to alkaline and nutrient-poor.

Planting

It is advisable to plant the Russian sage in spring - either as a solitary shrub or in clusters, each with a planting distance of around 3.28 feet. Dig a planting hole that is twice the size of the root ball, plant the shrub in the ground and water it well.

Care

Once it is rooted well, the blue spire does not need any special care measures, apart from additional watering during longer periods of drought. Fertilization is not necessary because the shrub prefers nutrient-poor soils.

Pruning

The Russian sage freezes over the winter. Even if the shoots are not damaged, it is important to cut them off during spring, leaving about a hand's breadth from the ground. The strong pruning promotes the sprouting of new leaves and flowers in the coming year.

Winter protection

Perovskia atriplicifolia is particularly sensitive to moisture and cold in winter. It is therefore better to protect the root area in late autumn with a cover made of spruce branches, leaves or peat.

Where to plant

The silver-gray shoots, the fine texture of the foliage and the long flowering period make the Russian sage an attractive subshrub for stone and steppe gardens, for dry embankments and dry stone walls. Lavender (Lavendula), Sage (Salvia), Catmint (Nepeta) and other drought tolerant plants complement it well and even roses are suitable companion plants.

Russian sage variety “Blue Spire” and Buddleia

The Russian sage variety ‘Blue Spire’ and ‘Buddleia’ are an attractive mix

Varieties

A popular variety with dark, lavender blue flowers is Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Blue Spire’. In contrast to the pure species, the leaves of this variety are cut deeper and the inflorescences are longer. “Filigree” is a bushy variety that grows very compact and reaches a height of around 31.49 to 47.24 inches. Because of its compact growth and a height of only 19.68 inches, “Lacey Blue” is suitable for the foreground of beds and for planting pots. Make sure that there is a sufficient drainage layer, for example made of expanded clay or gravel. The variety Perovskia atriplicifolia “Little Spire” is also bushy and compact.

Propagation

The Blue spire can be propagated in summer by using cuttings of herbaceous shoots as well as by division.

Diseases and Pests

In general, the Russian sage is not affected by plant diseases and pests. Waterlogging should be avoided at all costs. It The steppe shrub does not grow upright on soils that are too rich in nutrients, instead it grows horizontally.

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