Friday, July 30, 2010

My Favorite Drought Tolerant Plant: Russian Sage

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Today is Flaunt Your Flowers/Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time, but I will only be flaunting my Russian Sage. No fertilizer for these plants; they thrive in poor soil, of which I have plenty! Russian Sage is hands down my favorite drought tolerant plant. Not only does it require little water and lots of sun, but it can handle the temperature extremes that exist in the high desert. Its long spikes of purple flowers open in the heat of the summer, just as most of my other flowers are crying uncle, and continues blooming well into the fall.

Russian Sage dies back to the ground in the winter, but I do not trim the branches until the spring. Most sources I’ve read say that leaves will only bud on new shoots. However, I have observed that buds do appear on some of the old woody material, so I wait until the leaves start to emerge and then trim accordingly.

My plants reach about 3 feet wide and 4 feet high each summer. I use them through out my yard, but my favorite use of them was in creating a wall between my garden and my son’s play area:July2010 272 The wall of flowers serves several purposes. The blooms attract pollinators toJuly2010 229 my garden area, the strong sage scent hides the smells coming from the back pasture, and the thick branches prevent a lot of flying balls from crushing my veggies.

It is difficult to start Russian Sage from seed, but you can easily start a new plant from a cutting of new growth. You should keep it in moist soil until it takes off. Once it is established, you can cut back to watering it briefly 2 –3 times a week.

What more can I ask for? Oh yeah, it is not just rabbit resistant, it is almost a rabbit repellant, so I use it to protect flowers that the rabbits like to eat like my irises, daffodils, tulips, and  Liatris Spicata (pictured at right).

What is your favorite drought tolerant plant? Or are you one of those blessed people who actually receive measurable amounts of rain?


Alison said...

Love Russian sage, I've never grown it before. I started some from seed this winter via the winter sowing method. So far it's doing ok. We'll see how it does next year. Thanks for the tips about how to overwinter it.

Suzy said...

Its a beautiful plant especially in mass. I have a picture on my post today of what I think is russian sage or something like it.

Tootsie said...

I just bought my first one yesterday!!! how neat that you gave a post about it!