Look around your landscape to find a relatively dry spot where there is abundant sunshine. That’s where you will want to plant Russian sage. Its tough constitution means it prefers not to be pampered, so save your energy for more needy plants. This one can handle the sun, heat, drought, wind and even salt spray all on its own.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to mix compost and other nutrient-rich ingredients into the soil when planting, know that this perennial will not appreciate that extra step. It will actually grow better in poorer soils that are lacking a high concentration of organic matter. Alkaline soil is preferable, but the only requirement is that the soil be well-drained. This plant’s roots do not like to sit wet for long, especially in winter.
Choose a location that receives abundant sunshine—a minimum of 6-8 hours per day. Russian sage does not need any shade, even in warm climates. Too much shade, too much water, or too rich soil can cause it to stretch and lean.
Plant Russian sage in the spring to give its dense, woody root system time to establish before winter arrives. If planting later in the season, lay a 2-3” layer of mulch around the base of the plant to protect its roots that first season.
If the roots are densely circled around when you take the plant out of the pot, loosen them up a bit to break the “root memory”. This will encourage them to grow outward instead of continuing to grow in a circular pattern.
Set the plant in the hole, making sure that the top of the rootball is level with the top of the surrounding soil. Then backfill the hole with the soil you dug out. Press it down with your hand firmly to eliminate any big air pockets around the roots.
Lastly, water the plant to help the soil settle. The first season while it is getting established, it will need a little more water than in subsequent years. Once its roots are anchored in, they will be able to seek the available moisture from the soil, making the plant self-sufficient.