5:00am

Sat July 20, 2013
Garden Report

Have You Got The Summer Blues?

Blue flowering plants, like this Russian Sage can enliven your garden.
Credit Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons

July and August are the months of the blues even though it’s summertime and the living is easy.

Leadplant is a native shrub with blue flower spikes in late July. It grows about three feet tall. It is very drought tolerant once it is established. Leadplant has grey-green leaves. The flowers attract bees.

The most popular late summer blooming shrub is Blue Mist Spirea. It isn’t a true spirea. But it does take its common name from the spiraling pattern of leaves on a branch just like spirea. Blue Mist grows three to four feet tall and wide. The more water it gets the faster it grows and the bigger it gets.

Blue Mist spirea is also known as Bluebeard. It has silvery-green leaves and light blue flowers. The flowers are a favorite of bees and butterflies. It grows and flowers at higher elevations if it’s treated like a perennial and cut back to within inches of the ground in early spring. 

Dark Knight Spirea has gray-green leaves. Its growth habit, hardiness and drought tolerance are the same as common Blue Mist.  Dark Knight has darker, blue-purple flowers. 

Late Summer Blooming Blues

Given too much water, Russian Sage grows rank and floppy.

Sunshine Blue has yellow leaves that contrast with the blue-purple flowers. All of the Blue Mist Spirea varieties mix well with late summer blooming perennials like Anise Hyssop or Autumn Joy Sedum.

Another blue blooming August shrub is Russian Sage. Again this common name is deceiving. Russian Sage isn’t a true sage but gets its name because of its gray, serrated sage-like leaves. Its claim to fame is the profusion of blue-violet flower spires.  

Russian Sage grows three to five feet tall and wide. The more water it gets the bigger it grows. Given too much water, Russian Sage grows rank and floppy. It is drought tolerant. It also grows in a wide range of soil types. 

Russian Sage grows from the plains to the mountains. At higher elevations, it should be treated as a perennial and cut back to within inches of the ground. On the plains the winter tip die-back is pruned to live wood in early spring. 

Russian Sage becomes weedy. It reseeds itself. It also sends out suckering roots. This is a plant that should be grown with caution. It should also be contained to prevent it from taking over the garden.

tom@throgmortonplantmanagement.com     

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