This is one part in a new weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “40 Plants You (Probably) Have Never Heard of – But Will Love,” 40 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region but hard to find.
Silvery blue Russian sage
Perovskia atriplicifolia “Lissver”
Size: Up to 20 inches tall.
Exposure: Full sun.
Bloom season: Long-blooming, lavender blue flowers from midsummer into fall.
Pruning needs: Deciduous in winter; cut back plants to stems 8 to 12 inches tall before growth restarts in spring.
Water needs: Medium low water; irrigate deeply once a week in summer or twice a month in cooler weather.
Snapshot: This little perennial can steal the show in the summer garden. Instead of the gray-green foliage of many Russian sages, this variety has almost white stems with silver-green foliage. That pretty silver foliage and masses of lavender blue flowers make a real statement in summer flower beds, particularly as a contrast to plants with yellow and gold flowers. With erect woody stems and an informal growth habit, it can stand tall (but not too tall) behind shorter border plants. It drops its leaves in winter, but quickly bounces back again in spring. Another plus: This Russian sage attracts beneficial insects and hummingbirds.
▪ For more on 40 Plants, click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.
Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties. Send questions to Garden Detective, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. Send email to email@example.com. Please put “Garden Detective” in the subject field and include your postal address. To contact UC Extension directly, call:
Sacramento: (916) 875-6913; 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday
Amador: (209) 223-6838;
10 a.m.-noon Monday through Thursday; email ceamador. ucdavis.edu
Butte: (530) 538-7201;
8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. weekdays
Colusa: (530) 458-0570; 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays; website: cecolusa.ucanr.edu
El Dorado: (530) 621-5512; 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday-Friday
Placer: (530) 889-7388;
9 a.m.-noon on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays or leave a message and calls will be returned; website: http://pcmg.ucanr.org/Got_Questions//
Nevada: (530) 273-0919;
9 a.m.-noon Tuesdays through Thursday or leave a message
Shasta, Tehama, Trinity: (530) 225-4605
Solano: (707) 784-1322; leave a message and calls will be returned
Sutter, Yuba: (530) 822-7515; 9 a.m.-noon Mondays and Tuesdays and 1-4 p.m. Thursdays
Yolo: (530) 666-8737;
9-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, or leave a message and calls will be returned
To read past Garden Detectives, go to sacbee.com/home-garden