Only recently has this long time favorite of xeriscape gardeners and pollinators alike been considered a true member of the Salvia family. However, run your hand along the stalk of flowers and take a whiff and you will be instantly assured that it is indeed a sage plant.
One of the greatest things about the Russian sage plant is its willingness to live in a wide range of climates and soil conditions. They are originally from the montane grasslands and hills of southwestern and central Asia. Likewise, they are readily adaptable to the mountains and foothills throughout the United States and Canada, as well as many other countries. It has been recorded growing at 10,000ft in the mountains of Pakistan.
Over the last three decades, Russian sage has become a popular plant the world over, for its incredible dusty green foliage, showy purple spires, and heavenly scent. They can be made into a smudge stick like their distant cousin white sage. Gardeners rejoice with this quickly growing plant. It fills in spaces as it spreads quite easily. Therefore it should be known that once you plant your Russian sage, it's probably not going to be removed so easily.
The honeybees will be forever thankful for your selection in perennial flowering shrubs. I have personally witness hundreds of buzzing pollinators on a single plant at a given time! Because of it's wonderful smell and incredible color, it's no surprise. This quality makes the Russian sage perfect for planting as a border plant in an apiary.
People have also been known to enjoy the taste of Russian sage flowers. In some areas of the Middle East and India, the flowers are added to salads for a sweet pop of flavor. In Russia it has been made into a vodka based cocktail, go figure.
The Russian sage plant has been generally considered to be toxic, and its effect on people will vary person to person. Therefore, care and precaution should be taken into consideration when utilizing this plant. That being said, it has had a long history of being used in the treatments head colds, sinus congestion, dysentery, among other common afflictions.
For its amazing scenery, fragrance, and herbal qualities, as well as its profound ability to be a pollinator attractant, this is truly a wonderful plant for a High Altitude Homestead. It will grow in sandy, loamy, clay soil and takes hardly any water once established. So consider the Russian sage when you need to fill in some space in the garden.
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