Little spires russian sage - pruning - Knowledgebase Question

Hometown, Il
Question by htp62
July 23, 2007
recently planted some russian sage - never had this before nor any of my friends to ask. Tag says to prune in late winter. I live in zone 5. When is late winter? Beginning of March? How much or what do we cut back?

Answer from NGA
July 23, 2007


Russian Sage is a beautifully blooming plant. It grows best in poor, dry soil so don't kill your plant with kindness. Late winter is typically February in gardening terms. The reasoning behind waiting until late winter to prune is that the top of your Russian Sage, even after frost kills it, will provide some winter protection for the roots. Additionally, pruning can encourage new growth - not something you want in fall or winter. If you prune in December and a few days of warm weather arrive, your plant could begin to grow, only to be killed back by a cold snap. So, it's best to wait until February or later to prune. In my garden I leave the foliage on woody perennials until the following spring. Then I cut back anything that has been killed by winter weather. It is important to leave the foliage intact while it is still green so the root system can store up enough food energy for the long hibernation. You can certainly cut the plants back after a hard freeze rather than waiting until spring. If you do this, mulching will provide some winter protection; apply a light, airy mulch such as pine boughs after the ground freezes.

Hope this information clarifies things for you.

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