Skip to main content

Russian sage plant care: A complete guide

Add Russian sage to your garden

A sage plant with purple flowers
_Alicja_ / Pixabay

When planning a pollinator-friendly and drought-tolerant garden, you have plenty of options to choose from. Salvia, or sage, is a popular choice, but did you know there is more than one kind of sage? Russian sage may not be the first type of sage you think of, but it is a lovely and hardy plant. If you want to try growing this amazing and easy-to-care-for plant in your yard or garden, then this is the care guide for you. We’ll answer all your questions about Russian sage plant care to help ensure your garden thrives.

Planting Russian sage

Russian sage plants
melsisley / Pixabay

Choose a planting site in full sun, with well-draining soil and plenty of space to grow. Russian sage can tolerate some shade, but the stems can become limp or droopy if they don’t have enough sun. Well-draining soil is important, as Russian sage doesn’t tolerate wet feet for long. It also struggles to thrive in acidic soil, so be sure the soil is alkaline or neutral. You can find a soil pH test kit online or in many garden supply stores, which can help you determine if you need to adjust the soil’s pH or find a new planting site.

Russian sage will spread over time, and it can grow to a few feet tall and wide. Avoid planting it in places where it will be constrained by other plants or structures, as this can limit airflow and increase competition for resources.

Russian sage plant care

Flowering sage plant
_Alicja_ / Pixabay

Russian sage plant care is fairly simple once it is planted and established. It rarely needs to be fertilized, and it needs relatively infrequent waterings. Russian sage is drought tolerant and does not enjoy wet feet, so avoid watering it if the soil is still damp. In areas with regular rainfall, your Russian sage may not need to be watered for most of the year. Watering it during droughts can keep it looking fresh and neat, but your Russian sage can survive droughts.

However, it will require regular water for the first several weeks after planting to establish a strong root system. While pruning isn’t strictly necessary, it can be helpful for controlling your plant’s size and encouraging a wider, bushier growth habit rather than a taller one. Pruning to remove dead or diseased branches, like with most plants, is a good idea.

Common problems with Russian sage

Sage plants close up
matthiasboeckel / Pixabay

Russian sage is resistant to most pests, including deer. Like many other aromatic herbs, the scent it gives off is unpleasant to most pests. However, Russian sage does have a common problem that gives some gardeners trouble — overwatering. As with many other drought-tolerant plants, Russian sage is sensitive to water and easy to overwater. When overwatered, it can develop root rot, yellowing leaves, limp stems, and a general weakness. Soil drainage and careful watering can help. If you live in a region with extremely regular heavy rainfall, you may want to consider growing Russian sage in a container that can be moved under shelter during heavy rainfall.

Russian sage companion plants

A field of sage flowers
fsHH / Pixabay

Russian sage can grow with most other drought-tolerant, full-sun plants. In particular, other herbs such as lavender, nepeta, and yarrow make good companions for Russian sage. Wildflowers like coneflowers, coreopsis, and black-eyed Susans make great companions as well. These plants all have similar needs, and as an added bonus, they’re all popular with pollinators and wildlife!

Avoid planting Russian sage with full shade or water-loving plants, as their needs will conflict quite a bit. Be sure that if your chosen companion plant will grow taller than your Russian sage that they are spaced appropriately to avoid shading the Russian sage.

Is Russian sage edible?

Blue sage flowers
Wheattree / Pixabay

Unlike the delicious Salvia officinalis, also called common sage or culinary sage, Russian sage is not edible. However, the leaves do have a pleasant smell when crushed, similar to that of common sage. This scent is enhanced when dry, making it a popular choice for potpourri, dried flower arrangements, and other such projects. So while it doesn’t make for a great snack or flavoring, it can still be pleasant to have around your home. The flowers are also quite pretty, so consider creating a beautiful and enticingly scented cut flower bouquet for your home.

Russian sage is a hardy plant with beautiful flowers and a lovely smell, and now you’re ready to add it to your home or garden. Whether you’re considering planting a small hedge of Russian sage or are just looking for one plant to liven up part of your garden, this easy-to-grow herb is sure to please. As long as you have plenty of sunshine and a dry patch of land, your Russian sage will thrive!

Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
How to care for the gorgeous columbine flower
Add these colorful flowers to your garden
Purple and white columbine flowers

When planning a native flower garden, there are tons of amazing choices. If you’re looking for a stunning flower to add to your next flower garden, you should consider planting aquilegia, also known as columbine flowers. These lovely perennials are native to the meadows and woodlands of the eastern U.S. Want to give growing gorgeous columbine flowers a try? Here's everything you need to know about caring for the columbine flower, from planting to pest control.
Planting columbine flowers

Columbines are native wildflowers, which means they’re incredibly easy to plant. Start them in the fall or early spring, when the weather is cool but not cold. You can grow them in containers or in your garden. Don’t bury the seeds deeply -- only a light covering of soil to hold them in place is needed. Scatter the seeds over the area you want your columbine flowers to grow and toss a small amount of soil over them.

Read more
The best time to prune dogwood trees: Everything you need to know about dogwood care
How to grow a lush and thriving dogwood tree
Dogwood tree with pink flowers

Dogwood trees are a great choice for almost any garden or yard. They’re medium-sized with lovely flowers in white or pink and grow bright red berries that birds love to eat. If you’ve decided to add a dogwood tree to your life, but aren’t sure how to care for it, then you’re in luck! In this helpful guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to make sure your new tree thrives, from how to plant your sapling to when the best time to prune dogwood trees is.
Planting

After choosing your dogwood tree, the first thing you’ll want to do is put it in the ground. Before that, however, you have to choose a planting site. Dogwoods, being shorter trees, are understory trees. This means that, in the wild, they’re shaded and protected by taller trees. Keep this in mind when choosing where to plant your dogwood, and select somewhere with morning sun and afternoon shade. In milder climates, you can plant them in full sun, but remember they’ll need to be watered more frequently.

Read more
When do hydrangeas bloom? (and 4 reasons yours aren’t)
Encourage your hydrangeas to bloom on time
Blue and pink hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are known for their color-changing quirk and large, showy flowers. These lovely plants are relatively easy to grow and come in many fantastic forms, but when do hydrangeas bloom? More importantly, for many gardeners, what should you do if your hydrangeas aren’t blooming? This guide will answer all your questions about when and how often hydrangeas flower, why yours might not be blooming, and what you can do to encourage them to bloom.
When do hydrangeas bloom?

In general, hydrangeas bloom from mid-spring to early fall, but not all hydrangeas bloom at the same time. Depending on the type of hydrangea you have, you might see flowers from spring to summer or from summer to fall. You can expect to see oakleaf and French hydrangeas blooming through spring and summer, while bigleaf, panicle, and smooth hydrangeas typically bloom from summer to fall.

Read more