Sage Advice for Deterring Pests

If your garden is frequently harassed by deer or rabbits—or even worse, by both—you should consider planting Russian sage. Although no plant is totally immune if either of these animals is hungry enough, Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is a good deterrent. A tough, bushy plant, it’s perfect for xeriscaping in rock gardens, sunny borders, and other areas with poor soil or harsh conditions. \"Peek-a-Blue Sometimes referred to as a subshrub, Russian sage reaches a height of 3-4’ with a 2-3’ spread. Its long-lasting, violet-blue flowers grow in airy 9-12” panicles. The small, two-lipped blooms, like tiny snapdragons, appear in late summer and early autumn as other plants begin to fade. Silvery-green foliage and white woolly stems help emphasize the flower display. Russian sage is hardy in Zones 4-9 and can handle full sun or partial shade. It’s a robust plant and should be allowed to establish itself without a lot of coddling. When planting from a container to the ground, plant so the plant’s soil level is even with the ground soil level. Water in lightly, only enough to keep the soil from drying out completely. Go easy on the fertilizer as well; don’t apply any until the plant is in vigorous growth and then only sparingly. Space the plants 2 ½ to 5’ apart in an extremely well-drained, gritty loam; Russian sage, like most plants, appreciate good drainage. A low-maintenance plant, Russian sage needs very little care. A moderate to fast grower, depending on your climate, it’s good to just give your Russian sage an annual haircut. Cut it back to live wood in late winter or early spring. A jack of all trades, Russian sage provides beautiful blooms and a lovely aroma while warding off unwanted nibbling visitors, making it a must-have in every garden.