Looking for Alternative for Russian Sage

lovefornature(5B IL)October 22, 2007

Over the weekend, I was out of the state and seen some Russian Sage (someone had to tell me what it was, first time I ever seen) and thought it was beautiful.

I came home and looked it up and noticed it was not a native.

Is there an alternative native shrub that shows like Russian Sage that would be perennial in my zone (Zone 5B, IL)? and.....not invasive.

Thanks all from the newbiee here :)

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ladyslppr(z6 PA)

I am glad someone is concerned about Russian Sage being invasive. I have seen it spread to wild areas in several states, and I am sure that in a few years there will be Russian Sage eradication programs out west. Every non-native plant brought to this continent is one more roll of the dice to see if we have another purple loosestrife, cheat grass, or kudzu.

Enough preaching to the choir... I think that Pitcher Sage (Salvia azurea) might be a nice substitute for Russian Sage. Pitcher sage is native to your area, and has a similar light blue color. I have not grown it myself, so i don't have any firsthand tips on how to grow it.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 12:50PM
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terryr(z5a IL)

Russian sage isn't a shrub, it's a woody perennial. Trust me, you don't want it. They spread everywhere and are impossible to kill off. It laughs at Round-Up.

Vernonia fasciculata (Ironweed) is a wonderful plant as is Verbena hostata. Both bloom a pretty purple color (though not the same exact color) for a good long time. Liatris pycnostachya is another. All are good butterfly nectar plants.

Salvia azurea is s spotty native in IL, based on the USDA site and looking thru various other sites for native plants in IL.

Here is a link that might be useful: USDA

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 1:22PM
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EricEden(z7 MD)

Try one of the large, native salvias - I've seen some growing here in the Wash DC area and from a distance they look just like russian sage...but sorry, I don't know the specific names....BTW, I grow russian sage in my garden and it's not invasive-behaving for me at all - it does well in our dry, humid summers here - Eric

    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 2:23PM
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I also thought Russian Sage would be that wonder plant we are always in search of, and it played out that way here in our arid high desert with subzero winter temps. I became alarmed when it became somewhat invasive in a garden setting, but what really caused me to strike it from my preferred plant list was when it began showing up in our native desert landscape. It did seem to respond well to Round-up, especially when mixed with 2-4-D!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2014 at 2:09PM
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Hehe, for me, the problem with Russian sage is its very ubiquity. In other words, I find it woefully overused in the trade, along with such other (to me) boring plants like feather reed grass, knockout roses, et al. Just my personal opinion. My wife wanted us to plant some RS in our home garden. This is where I had to put my professional horticulturist foot down and say 'no more'! Really sick of that thing.

I think the Salvia ideas might get you close.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2014 at 9:47AM
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Russian Sage is one of the few non native plants I do like because it does so well in our harsh summer heat/drought and it attracts bees and other pollinators like crazy. Unlike so many plants that need weekly supplemental water and even then they struggle or look fried in the heat of summer, it looks good all season. I'm not aware of it invading or displacing native plants anywhere down here. Its used on medians, public gardens and private gardens especially in harsh full sun areas where so many other plants struggle or die. Its often planted in the desert SW for the same reason.

If you want silver leaves with purple flowers, a good native substitute would be Amorpha canescens (Lead Plant) which is a prairie classic. Its roots grow deep (4ft) & it will eventually form colonies but it only blooms once in late summer. It has a wide native distribution.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2015 at 4:21PM
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I know it doesn't have the silvery foliage like Russian Sage, but Baptisia australis, also know as False Indigo, is a native with purple flowers and is also water-wise due to its drought tolerant nature and love of full sun.


    Bookmark   on Tuesday at 11:27AM
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