Russian sage for your pollinator garden
Perovskia, also known as Russian sage, is a popular xeriscape plant that is not from Russia, nor is it a sage. However, everything about Russian sage makes it a perfect plant for your pollinator garden. It is low-maintenance, drought tolerant, and is not eaten by deer or rabbits. At the same time, it is popular with all sorts of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hover flies.
Russian sage, a native of southwest and central Asia, is in the mint family of plants. It is fragrant, loves full sun, and will grow in very poor soils, including clay. The foliage is a grayish silver-green, and the plant is hardy to nearly -40 degrees F (or C). The Russian sages grow to about 3 feet (1 m) high and 5 feet (1.5 m) wide. Flowers range from dark blue to a light smoky blue and bloom from mid-summer until first frost.
Too much water or soil fertility make the plants lanky and wash out the color, so plants are best left alone once established. The bright blues show off especially well when paired with pink and orange Agastache, which bloom at the same time.
Plants are available in 4-inch (10 cm) pots from local nurseries or can be ordered from mail-order catalogs. They will thrive in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 10 as long as they have good winter drainage. Popular varieties include Blue Mist, Blue Haze, Blue Spire, Longin, and Filigran. Little Spire is a semi-dwarf variety with a compact upright form that is perfect for smaller spaces.
 A xeriscape plant is one that requires little supplemental water. It is derived from the Greek word “xeros” which means “dry.”