Scientific: Perovskia atriplicifolia
Common: Russian sage
Family: Lamiaceae
Origin: Intercontinental highlands of central Asia.

Pronounciation: Per-off-SKI-a a-tri-pli-ca-FOL-ee-a

Hardiness zones
USDA 5-9

Landscape Use: Xeric (dry) Dry landscape settings, foliar and textural accent, silhoutte plant, landscape planter beds, open xeriscape landscape design themes.

Form & Character: Open, airy, upright and irregular, wispy with a light and breezy appearance.

Growth Habit: Evergreen, a mostly herbaceaous perennial shrub to 5 feet tall with equal spread. Usually forms clumps or thickets because of its tendency to produce rhizomes. Growth rate and eventual size of Russian sage varies with water availability.

Foliage/texture: Grayish-white stems, foliage lobed, deeply lobed, silvery-gray pubescent small leaves, 2 inches long and 1 inch wide, strongly aromatic; fine texture.

Flowers & fruits: Profuse display of axillary flowers, small, tubular, light blue to lavender; fruits are inconspicuous.

Seasonal color: Hazy blue purple caste to the plant by its flowers during long stretches of the growing warm season.

Temperature: Hardy to 0oF. Tolerant of high desert heat (to 105oF), but not to extreme low desert heat of Phoenix.

Light: Full sun is required; no shade!

Soil: Russian sage grows best in slightly alkaline soils that are well drained.

Watering: Infrequent deep irrigations during the growing season only; use drip irrigation water to control growth rate and spread. High water applications or overhead irrigation will result in rank vegetative growth and aggressive clumping and spreading with fewer flowers. No supplemental during winter with only measeured amounts of water needed during the summer depending on the amounts of summer monsoon rains.

Pruning: Severely head back every few years to control spread amd promote a natural shape. Russian sage CANNOT be formally sheared without looking emasculated.

Propagation: Seed, softwood cuttings

Disease and pests: None

Additional comments: Russian sage is a great accent plant for those high desert landscapes in Arizona and New Mexico. It is Well adapted for mid-elevation landscapes in the Arizona cities and towns such as Prescott, Payson, Sierra Vista, and Page. It will grow in Flagstaff too, but might be damaged by winter cold. The cultivar 'Blue Spire' has dark blue flowers. Some consider this to be a hybrid between P. atriplicifolia and P. abrotanoides. The specific epithet, atriplicifolia means with leaves like "Atriplex". The genus is named after a famous Russian general.

In central and southwest Asia, Russian sage is a shrub of many medicinal uses. Flowers are eaten fresh, while the foliage is smoked like tobacco because of it's slight euphoriant properties. Medicinal oils and secondary compounds in Russian sage has recently been identified. Russian sage has also been found to possess inhibitory activity and might have potential therapeutic effects on inflammatory diseases.