Sage, Russian –
Woody base perennial of the mint family. Finely cut silvery foliage on stiff, upright, square stems. Forms a bushy clump. Long flowering period. Airy spikes of fuzzy blue flowers cover the plant in late summer. Easy to grow. Loves hot sunny sites. Drought, heat, humidity tolerant. Tolerant of clay soils, deer, rabbits and air pollution. Aromatic.
Blooms July through October. After blooming, cut back for rebloom.
This variety was selected for its relatively shorter, upright habit which prevents the leaning that is typical of the species. Small, narrow, grey-green leaves compliment the lavender-blue flowers. This cultivar has a wonderfully long blooming period beginning in late summer and continuing well into the fall.
Winchester Gardens generally stocks this item.
Full sun and well-drained, even dry soil of average fertility are required for Russian sage to thrive.
Container grown plants can be set out throughout the growing season. Space plants 2-3 feet apart. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the root ball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly.
If plants are too floppy, try pinching them back by half in early summer when they are about a foot tall. Cut back plants to about a foot in the fall or leave standing for winter interest. Then cut back to about 6 inches in the spring. Plants at the northern end of their range may be killed back to the ground; in milder areas more of the top growth will survive. Wait to see how much wood had made it through the winter before cutting them back hard in the spring. In long-season areas, if flowering stops after the first flush of blooms, cut back plants by half to encourage a second flush of flowers. Water newly set-out plants if the weather is dry; established plants are quite drought tolerant.
Lady’s mantle – Lady’s mantle has foamy sprays of chartreuse flowers in late spring and is a fine companion for early penstemon in full sun.
Lamb’s-ears – A low carpet of fuzzy, silvery lamb’s-ears at the feet of brightly colored penstemon presents an interesting combination. Good drainage and full sun will please both.
Catmint – Smaller catmint is fine in combination with penstemon. The gray foliage and loose spikes of the lavender flowers complement each other.