When should I cut back the stems on my Russian sage?
—David Dickerson, Carlinville, IL
Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is hardy to Zone 3. In cooler climates, it suffers winter die-back. If the stems of your Russian sage produce buds only part of the way to their tips, cut them back in spring when you see new growth beginning. To maximize the plant’s size, cut each stem back to living tissue. If you prefer to keep the plant more compact, cut directly above the lowest bud on each stem.
Russian sage grows best in full sun. When planted in half-day sun it grows much taller and gets floppy. If your reason for pruning is to make it less tall, spindly, or floppy, moving the plant to a full-sun spot is a better option.