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Russian-sage in full flower.

Russian-sage is a semi-hardy sub-shrub or perennial grown for its handsome gray-green foliage and beautiful late season lavender-blue flower spikes. Cut to the ground each spring to promote new growth.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name:

Perovskia atriplicifolia

All common names:

Russian-sage; Russian sage; Afghan-sage

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Perennial,
  • Shrub

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Container,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Patio/sidewalk,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Small shrub (3-5 feet),
  • Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet),
  • Large plant (more than 24 inches),
  • Medium plant (12-24 inches)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8,
  • Zone 9

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Dry soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil,
  • Sandy soil


  • Dry sites,
  • Occasional drought,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Road salt

Seasons of Interest:

  • early summer,
  • midsummer,
  • late summer

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Fragrant,
  • Blue,
  • Purple

Shape or Form:

  • Multi-stemmed,
  • Narrow,
  • Upright

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

More Information:

Tree & Plant Care

A fine textured, perennial or sub-shrub (woody base) that dies back to ground in winter. 
Best in full sun and well-drained soils. Does not tolerate wet soils.
Prune to the ground each spring (May)  to promote new growth and better flowers.
Avoid over fertilized soil that can make plant lanky and dulls the flower color.
Deer and rabbit resistant.

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious problems

Native geographic location and habitat

Native from China, Afghanistan to Tibet

Attracts birds & Butterflies

Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to the late season blooms.

Bark color and texture 

Numerous, aromatic, gray-white, thin stems.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Opposite, strongly dissected gray-white leaves are fragrant.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Small, 2-lipped, lavender-blue flowers that branch and rise above the foliage.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

A dark brown, oval nutlet

Cultivars and their differences 

Blue Spire (Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Blue Spire'): Airy spikes of lavender-blue flowers, compact habit reaching 2 to 3 feet high.

Little Spire (Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Little Spire'): Blue flower spikes on semi-dwarf habit, reaching 18 to 24 inches high.

Peek-a-Blue™ (Perovskia atriplicifoia 'Peek-a-Blue'): Lavender-blue flowers, lacy, finely-dissected slivery-green leaves, reaching 24 inches high.

Location of Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian-sage) at the Arboretum