Pruning Russian sage is super easy! The best part is that you don’t have to worry about over doing it, you can’t kill a Russian sage shrub by over-pruning.
Plus there are three pruning techniques you can choose from. Follow these step-by-step instructions to learn how to prune Russian sage plants.
If you have Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) in your garden, then you know how bad they can look after the winter.
All those dead branches leave your plant looking ugly and half dead. So it’s important to learn how to cut back Russian sage to keep it looking its best all summer long.
But when it comes to pruning plants, Russian sage is one of the easiest to do.
Before we start, I want to mention that there are different types of Russian sage plants. These pruning tips work for all of them! So, no matter which variety you have, you can follow these steps.
Why Should You Prune Russian Sage
Pruning is an important part of Russian sage maintenance. If you don’t prune Russian sage, the plant will become very overgrown and woody, which doesn’t look very nice.
It’s also important to know that Russian sage won’t grow back at the tips of the plant after the winter, and the branches die back towards the bottom of the plant.
So the dead twigs that are sticking out above the leaves in the spring will be there all summer if you don’t prune it.
Related Post: How To Care For Russian Sage
When To Prune Russian Sage
You can prune out the dead growth any time, you won’t harm the plant. But, the best time for pruning Russian sage is in the spring.
I find it easier to wait until the leaves have started sprouting before I prune mine so I know exactly where to cut.
If you prefer, you can prune your plant while it’s still dormant. Since you can’t over-prune a Russian sage bush, you don’t have to worry about exactly where to make your cuts.
Early spring pruning is a good time to shape it if you want a nicely formed, rounded plant.
Tools For Pruning Russian Sage
Russian sage stems are woody, and can be pretty thick in spots, so I recommend using pruning shears for the job.
I also like to use precision pruning snips for smaller branches and tips if I’m working around tender new leaves.
Whatever garden pruning tools you use, just be sure they are always cleaned and sharpened before you start cutting.
Russian Sage Pruning Techniques
There are three techniques you can use for pruning Russian sage: cut it back all the way down to the ground, trim it for shape, or wait for new growth in the spring.
The last one is the method I like to use, and I’ve included the step-by-step instructions below.
Method 1: Cut It Down To The Ground
If your Russian sage is really woody and hasn’t been pruned before, then you might want to try cutting it all the way down to the ground. This will rejuvenate the plant so it will come back fuller and bushier.
You can use this technique every year to make pruning easier if you want, it won’t hurt the plant.
But only use this method in very early spring while the plant is still dormant, and before the leaves have formed.
If your Russian sage leaves have already started sprouting, then use methods 2 or 3 instead, and wait until next spring to cut it all the way back.
Method 2: Prune It For Shape
Like I mentioned above, you can’t kill Russian sage by over pruning it, so you really don’t have to be careful.
In fact, you want to be aggressive with large shrubs. When using this method, cut large plants back to about a foot high.
Method 3: Spring Pruning
This is my preferred method, but it’s also the most tedious. So, I’ve included step-by-step instructions for how to cut back Russian sage using this method below…
How To Trim Russian Sage Step By Step
If your Russians sage plant is small like mine or it’s immature, then it’s best to hand prune it like I do. You don’t have to be very careful here, if you cut too low on the plant, it’s not going to hurt it.
Step 1: Look for the new growth – Find the spot on the branch where there are new leaves. That is usually towards the bottom of the stem, but it can be much farther up on some stems.
If any of the branches are sticking out a lot higher than others, then you can cut them back to the same length so the plant is shapely.
Or you can leave them longer if you don’t care about the shape of the plant.
Try to make the cut as close to the leaves as you can, any part of the dead branch that is sticking out will be there all summer.
When they’re small, the new leaves are very delicate and can break off easily, so be careful. But if you accidentally knock off a few, it’s really not a big deal. They will come back.
Step 3: Remove any dead branches – If you find dead branches that don’t have any new leaves on them, you can cut those down to the ground.
Many times the dead branches will break off easily, so you can just snap them off at the base if that’s easier.
There you have it! I told you pruning Russian sage would be easy. Pruning is an important part of Russian sage care, and it helps to keep your plant looking its best.
You can use any of the three methods every year for all the different Russian sage varieties. Or you can alternate these methods from year to year as you need to keep your healthy and shapely.
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How do you cut back Russian sage? Share your tips for pruning Russian sage in the comments section below.