Plant Spacing of Atriplicifolia Perovskia

samnsarahMarch 25, 2014

I am planning to plant some Atriplicifolia Perovskia (Russian Sage) plants in a 5' x 10' flower bed on the south side of my garage, which I affectionately call my "little slice of Sahara" because of the hot, sunny, sandy, dry, and windy conditions there. It also can get down to 0 degrees in the winter with below freezing dry winds. If I want the Atriplicifolia Perovskia plants to be a hedge how far apart should plant them. I was considering 2' apart but wasn't sure if that was too close together. Also, do you think that some Whirling Butterflies Gaura would do well theren too?
Does anyone have any advice? I would appreciate any you could give me.

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wayne_z5_ia

I have several plants of the Russian Sage and really like it, mainly because of its long bloom period. I would say 3 plants ( 4 at the most) along the garage. I really like the gaura, but I am too far north to be reliably hardy and I'm wondering if the wind might be hard on them. I use the annual, " Strawberry Fields" Gomphrena in front of my sage. It reseeds reliably so acts as a perennial. Has bright red, clover like flowers and blooms from July to frost. Some would call it weedy, but I like it so well that I put up with the task of pulling out unwanted seedlings. Another annual that I like with the sage is Cosmic Orange cosmos, but this would have to be planted each year.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 12:50PM
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samnsarah

I thought about planting Goldsturm Rudbeckia in front of the Russian Sage plants, but I read that they are susceptible to some sort of fungus that turns the leaves black. Anyone else hear of this?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 12:57PM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

In my experience, Perovskia atriplicifolia spreads by underground runners if planted in an "ideal" spot. For that reason I agree that 5 plants may overwhelm this area in time.

As for companion plants... you might want to wait a season before putting in another perennial. I'd plant annuals in front as wayne_z5-ie suggested. See how this plant performs for you. People have such different responses with Perovskia. Sometimes the color is more pale blue than deeper. Sometimes it flops rather than standing tall.... most often due to soil that's too rich or too little sun.

I love this plant. It works well with so many other plants. It's dependable, carefree, and provides a strong accent in my garden ..... also very easy to propagate.

Molie

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 3:22PM
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samnsarah

That's some good advice. Thank you.
Another plant I was considering in this sunny and sandy flower bed is Little Spire Perovskia, which I understand is a smaller version of Atriplicifolia Perovskia. Imagine Russian Sage's little brother, and you've got Little Spire Perovskia. I would assume it would behave the same way as the regular Russian Sage, but does anyone have any experience with this smaller version?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 3:39PM
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TexasRanger10(7)

For a hedge one type I would consider is 'filigrans'. Its very upright & vase shaped. Theres a line of them planted in a median here & they are about 3ft apart. I nearly wrecked the car first time I saw it. They are completely stiff and uniform, first time I saw the color & delicate form seemed weirdly different than what I was used to.

The unimproved form is more rounded and will flop in too much shade. I have one that is in an inferno full sun spot that gets about 4'ft x 4'ft. I trim it to about 6" late winter, that makes for a full bushy plant.

A good mixed combination I know of in a hot, no irrigation, exposed garden close by is:

Russian Sage (the common kind)
Salvia greggii (red)
Hardy Lantana (yellow/orange)
Silver King Artemisia

This strip always looks great but was most impressive during the deadly hot summers of 2011 & 2012 --- it bloomed non stop without a whimper when most everything here was shut down or dying & the trees were defoliating & dying.

At the base by the curb is all yellow Lanceleaf Coreopsis which grows thick forming a dense, evergreen ground cover. These bloom heavily in spring along with the salvia & then peter out about the time the lantana plants are coming around. The whole thing is just nicely self maintaining & low maintenance in a nice way.

I decided the plants were made for each other & am doing the same combination in a spot here, I was so impressed.

I have a buddy in SC Kansas (Wellington) who grows the Gregg salvia successfully. He planted the Lantana 'Miss Huff' last year but its too early to see if it made it & I haven't talked to him in a couple months. Its the most hardy variety and will withstand a period of 3 below. Mine is already putting out shoots on a couple.

Moonshine Achillea would be a good contrast too with the yellow. Agastache for some pink if you can grow it.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Tue, Mar 25, 14 at 17:30

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 4:25PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Perovskia 'Little Spires' doesn't sucker.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 6:40AM
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samnsarah

Thanks for the ideas, T. Ranger. I had some sort of lantana, possibly an uncultivated one, there before but have decided to replace it with Russian Sage. I was seriously considering planting Miss Huff or its smaller cousin, Sonset, but neither one are GUARANTEED from year to year here in SC Kansas. And I don't want plants I have to replant each year if I can avoid it, which is why I'm not going to plant annuals.
If I planted anything in this flower bed along with Russian sage, it would probably be either an orange or yellow colored flower. I think the yellow or orange flowers pair up very nicely with the bluish purple flowers of the Russina Sage.
And, lacey, thank you for the info. about Littlespires not suckering. That is good to know.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 9:42AM
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TexasRanger10(7)

Bustani Plant Farm in Stillwater OK says they've been growing Lantana urticoides for years in zone 6. I just got a catalog & they list 2 as guaranteed hardy to zone 6. 'Palo Pinto' which is the red/orange Texas native & one called 'Zinn Orange' that has proved hardy for decades. You have to drive there though, no mail order.

I ordered L. urticoides seed from Texas Native Seed last fall & have quite a few plants up, planning a border/hedge to mix with other tough plants.

I bought 'Miss Huff' locally last year & it grew extremely fast to about 5ft wide. The base is very beefy---made a main stem about 2.5" in diameter with 1'' thick stems coming out at the base. The trick is to not trim them in winter, water will enter the hollow stems and freeze burst the roots.

There is a large yellow gold big bush type thats been growing up the road a piece for years. I took some cuttings last year, they rooted in a week.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 3:07PM
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samnsarah

I have/had a row of Lantana Camara 'Dallas Red' and 'Confetti' along the south side of my house. They are mulched with 3" of wood mulch, and I have not cut back any of the branches or stems. The bark is sluffing of the plants from the base of the trunk to the ends of the stems. Does this mean the entire plant is dead? They still are very firmly rooted in the ground. I'm not sure if the roots are dead and still anchoring the plant really well or if the roots are actually still alive.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 3:56PM
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TexasRanger10(7)

The wild camara are definitely hardy, my grandma used to grow em up further north in zone 6 close to the Ks/Ok border.

I saw a large shrub growing in the same place I was talking about with the Russian Sages & yellow bush type lantana that has pink/yellow blooms, think it might be confetti but not sure, it has been there for years. I got cuttings off it too. The leaves are closer together than the wild camara & has more flowers for a long period. The wild camara shuts down & starts making lots of seed & looks coarser. This one didn't have hardly any seeds. The ones they get are dormant.

I bought a Dallas Red last spring & left it untrimmed all winter. I took 3 cuttings & wintered em over indoors so I'd have insurance because its such a heavy bloomer & fast grower, I definitely want to keep it sort of like that low growing habit for variety too.

They don't send up new shoots til late in spring so time will tell. Bustani's only guarantees it to Zone 8 but is testing it there in zone 6 & says it may be hardy to zone 7 with protection.

Bustani's also say that if its hardy, most likely its got Lantana urticoides in its parentage rather than the more commonly used L. camara & L. montevidensis crosses. Most of the hybrids are from these L. camara crosses, not hardy. I don't care for those little ball shaped ones they sell at most nursery's. They don't even look like lantana's to me, more like sissy bedding plants bred for conventional gardens.

I went out & checked those shoots coming up about 2" from the main stem of that 'Miss Huff' yesterday cuz I can't believe its already sending up shoots in March. It looks sort of like it, the stems are pretty hefty, 1" high right there by the old stem. Can't think what else it'd be but I still can't believe its sprouting this early especailly after such a cold winter.

That common ground cover gold blooming type came back for me last spring from some I planted in August. I read they are pretty hardy. They are sold in lots of places. Might do good with the Russian Sage? Never thought of that one. Its a good long bloomer.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 4:33PM
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TexasRanger10(7)

Woops, to answer your question. Mine look like you describe. They are only root hardy further north so the whole top dies back to the ground like that. Go south far enough and they bloom all winter & get huge. The cuttings I took bloomed all winter. Kinda cool I think. I just trimmed mine all back last week. Now I wait.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 4:38PM
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samnsarah

Like I said before, I had a couple of uncultivated lantana on the south side of my garage last summer. I got them from a friend who got them from her relatives who live in Western Texas. They grow everywhere down there and are often treated as a noxious weed and sprayed by the countys' weed departments.
They did create tons of viable seeds, but as long as I dead headed the plants flowered. LOL by the end of the summer I was so sick of dead heading that I decided to replace them.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 5:45PM
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TexasRanger10(7)

No need to explain. Sometimes I ask for suggestions, I might consider what I can use but ignore the rest because in the end I always do what I want which is most times what I planned in the first place.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Wed, Mar 26, 14 at 23:50

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 6:47PM
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gardenweed_z6a

Can't find the pic but I planted Perovskia atriplicifolia/Russian sage with Gaura lindheimeri/wandflower 'The Bride' next to each other about 4 years ago in mostly sun & sandy loam. The combination was (at least in my view) stunning. I sent a photo to Botanical Interests. They thanked me via email & posted it on their website.

The Gaura appears a little later in the growing season than I expected and I thought I'd lost it after the first year. It's still coming up and putting on a show.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 8:46PM
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samnsarah

II'm also considering the combination of Little Spire Russian sage and Autumn Joy Sedum. They are both low water plants, so they may look nice together, even though the Sedum doesn't have as long of a bloom time as the Russian Sage.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:20AM
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gardenweed_z6a

plantingman - Sedum 'Autumn Joy' may not have as long a bloom period as Russian sage but the flower heads don't fall or disappear once they fade--I just today snapped off some of last year's from my own plant. The thing about them that makes them important in my garden is the bees LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them and once they bloom, the flowers are literally covered in bees.

I decided to move one of my AJ sedums late in the season a few years ago. Kind of gave me a start when I went to dig it up and found bumblebees had fallen asleep on the flowers & stayed the night. They didn't seem to mind me shoving the spading fork under the plant and gradually lifting out of the ground. I hauled it over to the new planting hole and set it in with the sleeping bees still on it.

My one complaint about AJ sedum is that no matter where I site it in my garden, it flops. Same with S. 'Black Jack' so my guess is the soil is too healthy for them. :-(

If color isn't high on your list of garden priorities, planting Russian sage near 'Autumn Joy' sedum should work. I only mention it because both bloom in the white/blue/pink section of the color wheel.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 7:15PM
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samnsarah

Color is a priority for me but not my only priority. Texture is also a priority as is drought, heat, and cold tolerance. Besides Autumn Joy Sedum, I'm also considering Brilliant Sedum and Goldstrum Black Eyed Susans. The only problem I have with Goldstrum is that it is susceptible to angular leaf spot and other fungus'. It's said you can help prevent fungus on Goldstrum by not wetting the foliage when watering it. But I don't see how wetting the foliage is avoidable without a drip line, since the plant's stems are surrounded by large leaves that practically lie prostrate on the ground.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 10:58PM
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gardenweed_z6a

Where I am black-eyed susan doesn't need watering. If it did:

My poor man's irrigation system (primarily for hydrangea & astilbe) is recycled cat litter jugs with a pinhole punched an inch from the bottom. I set the jug close to the base of the plant & fill it with the hose. Water exits the pinhole near the plant & stops when the level in the jug falls below the hole. Remaining water in the jug prevents wind from blowing the container around.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 10:51AM
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samnsarah

I suppose I could do the same thing with empty milk jugs or 2 liter pop bottles. What a great way to irrigate and reuse! Gardenweed, you're a genius.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 2:09PM
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gardenweed_z6a

Thanks plantingman but I can't take the credit. Hats off to my neighbors who garden (vegetable, flower & fruit orchard). They tipped me off a number of years ago when we had an extraordinarily dry growing season. They use recycled gallon milk jugs however. The cat litter jugs were my own idea since they hold more than a gallon of water.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 5:39PM
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grandmamaloy(7)

As far as the Russian Sage goes, 2 feet should be fine, as they only grow up to 36-inches across. In fact, you may be able to grow them a little closer, say 20-inches. Planting it with the Gaura would be gorgeous, but I think the Whirling Butterflies Gaura may need more moisture than the sage will. There are other Gaura's, such as Passionate Blush or the Siskiyou series that are more drought-tolerant. The Siskiyou has a white variety if that's the color you're looking for. I'm thinking your little slice of the Sahara will be quite beautiful!

Here is a link that might be useful: Gaura Options

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 11:23AM
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mori1(5b/6a)

Whirling Butterflies is drought resistant once established. When most plants/shrubs have shut down in the heat, it kept on blooming. The only con is that its a self sower. So if you decide to go that route, let me know. I have quite a few seedlings I would be more then happy to share.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 12:25PM
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TexasRanger10(7)

Two feet across is not realistic for a mature specimen. Mine comes up to my waist in summer & is at least 3 feet wide, more like 4 ft. They send up new suckers close to the base & the shrub gets wider each year. Trimmed down to 6", the base of the shrub is about two feet across, that's not counting the spread when it puts up stems.

Perovskia longin is recommended as a rigidly growing upright variety.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 2:09PM
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samnsarah

Thanks, TXRanger. Yeah, I knew that 2' feet across was too close. Just looking at photos online of mature Russian Sage plants and reading the experiences of other gardeners convinces me that these plants need room to grow and spread out.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 2:22PM
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samnsarah

Speaking of the room needed to grow russian sage, I have another flower bed on the south side of my house that has similar conditions to the south side of my garage, except the deminsions of this flower bed are 5' x 15'. Do you think a single row of five Russian Sage plants would fit nicely there?

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 3:34PM
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TexasRanger10(7)

Its up to you. I would want more variety myself and do a mixed planting rather than a row but I haven't seen the area or the rest of your yard. I like them mixed with pinks & yellows or oranges. I choose the lantana because the R.S. goes to sleep in hot mid summer while the lantana's seem to love that. Both look good together in fall & I have other plants in spring so I get different combinations.

I have Gulf Muhly Grass & Blue Grama grass in the mix so I get those great pink fluffy seed heads of the muhly and the white of the grama with sun coming through in fall. Its a feast of textures. For pure yellow I have Golden Hairy Aster which blooms from spring to frost. Its as tough as nails. I don't water any of this.

Here is a mass planting from a local park. Might give you an idea of how lots would look close together.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Wed, Apr 2, 14 at 16:16

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 4:09PM
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TexasRanger10(7)

For an annual that needs no watering in this hot spot, I have Gaillardia pulchra that I let grow where I want them. It comes up in fall & winters over. Blooms all summer and looks good with the R.S. You can just see the sage branch in the picture. I couldn't find a photo showing the whole area but the entire area is no maintenance except for late winter trimming back.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 4:37PM
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samnsarah

Hmmm... From your pic, Russian sage all by itself is kind of boring. But, then again, my space IS smaller, and I will have gold mound spireas and possibly some Tonto Crape Myrtles pretty close by as well. But you have given me a lot to think about.
BTW, this isn't a private conversation. If anyone else has any other ideas or opinions, I would welcome them.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 4:59PM
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TexasRanger10(7)

Mine is a hot median between a sidewalk & the street. Its probably a bit less than 5' wide and goes the whole length of the front yard. Its filled with various heat loving plants but not planted in a crowded way. One Russian Sage is plenty.

I think a planting of all or mostly R.S. looks dull myself. I chose various color blooms & heights, the plants all have the same growing requirements.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 5:24PM
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samnsarah

Great idea, TR. I am considering the something similar. I am thinking Russian Sage, Torch Lilly, and Black Eyed Susans...

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 7:02AM
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