Pruning Russian Sage

(Question)

Please tell me what I should do with/for my Russian sage in the fall. Do I cut it back? Do I leave it alone? Thank you for any information you can give me.

 

(Answer)

Although some gardeners cut back their Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) plants in the fall, it is better to leave the plant over the winter and cut them back in the spring.  This provides winter interest in your garden.  It may also protect the plant in a particularly hard winter as it holds the snow in place and gives insulation.

In the spring, just as the buds are breaking, cut back the stems.  There are two choices at this point.  You can give your Russian sage a hard prune to just above ground level.  New shoots will emerge and flower.  Alternatively, you can cut each stem back to at least where the new growth has begun – look for emerging buds.  The stem above that point is deadwood and will not develop leaves or flowers.  With this pruning you can also prune for shape, getting rid of particularly long branches, or to develop that shape of the plant that you are looking for.  While the latter option means that you will start in the spring with a plant with longer stems; it is a more complicated pruning job.