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Plant profile: Salvia yangii (Russian Sage)

Updated: Mar 10, 2022

Can you spot the chicken?!?

There are some plants in the garden that stand out as real super heroes. Salvia yangii or Russian Sage has been impressing us, and the bees in my garden, all season. It stands up to tough summer heat with minimal water usage and doggedly thrusts its bluey-violet panicles of flowers skyward each day.

The combination of soft feathery green foliage and the bright flower buds of this herbaceous perennial (a flowering shrub that grows and reproduces for multiple seasons and dies down over winter) makes for very attractive planting in any garden. Here at my place, it's planted between a chicken pen and small orchard, and the narrow deck along our outbuilding studio. It works as a great screen for the chicken-y mess that can build up in the scratch yard and it's wonderful to look out on from inside our studio.

The sensory value of this plant also boasts a great sage-y scent when your walk past and brush by the leaves. It's a pleasure to watch the abundance of bees and other pollinators all over its upright stems and burying themselves in the blue flowers. I've seen hundreds buzzing around this plant all at once, so it's a great addition for anyone looking to increase pollination in their patch. Russian sage propagates readily from cuttings. It is tolerant of clay, sand and loam soil types and it can take lots of heat with minimal water, making it a great plant for South Australia's long hot summers. It wants full sun for at least six hours a day and it benefits from the firm hand of a good cut back to a growing bud when it dies back during winter.

You can find it growing in lots of gardens around Adelaide, and its abundant growth means you can probably knock on the person's door and ask for a cutting or two!

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