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“Russian Sage” is Neither (Perovskia)

“Russian Sage” is Neither (Perovskia)

Posted by John Friel on Jul 30th 2021

That’s right, folks: Perovskia is native to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tibet. It’s not from Russia, with or without love.

It’s also not a sage, despite the pungent salvia-like aroma released when the silvery foliage is crushed. It’s actually in the mint family.

P. atriplicifolia

The original! Talc-white stems rise from lacy, blue/pewter foliage, adorned with sprays of lavender flowers. Named Perennial Plant of the Year in 1995, it stands a loose-limbed 3 – 4’ and is hardy in Zones 4 – 9. 

P. hybrida ‘Little Spire’

A more compact, refined selection with tall airy bloom spikes and richly aromatic gray foliage. At just two feet, ‘Little Spire’ is about half as tall as P. atriplicifolia but every bit as hardy.

Culture Notes

Perovskia thrives in full sun and performs best in well-drained soil. Water moderately, it’s very drought-tolerant once established. In the garden, cut back almost to the ground in late winter.

 What’s so Russian about it? Just the name.

The genus name Perovskia honors a Russian military and political figure, Vasily Perovski (1795-1857). He led a disastrous campaign into the Khanate of Kiva in the harsh winter of 1839, with 5,000 men and 10,000 camels. About half the soldiers and 9,000 of the camels perished. Apparently he, too, was no sage.

 OK, so Perovskia is neither Russian, nor a sage. But it IS a splendid shrubby perennial, and you can grow it from easy-planting, fast-finishing 72-cell liners. Where do you get those? Why, from Emerald Coast Growers, of course – your easy choice!

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