Propagating Perennials: Russian Sage, Salvia, and Coneflower

Spring is a great time for what? PERENNIAL PLANT PROPAGATION! OK, I get excited about making new plants and I wanted to share a little of what I’ve been working on in the garden. Spring really is a great time to take cuttings of your perennials, in fact it might be the best time. If you have never tried propagating a plant perennials are a great place to start. They root very fast and will give you an instant sense of satisfaction of doing something amazing! If you would like to read up on how to propagate plants through cuttings take a look at one of my previous posts: The Basics of Cuttings.

Here’s what I’ve been working on:

Propagate Salvia nemorosa (‘Caradonna’ and East Friesland’)

About a week or so ago I took cuttings of two kinds of Salvia nemorosa, ‘Caradonna’ and ‘East Freisland’. I took internodal cuttings (which means between the nodes, crazy right?) that were about 3 inches long with 2-4 leaves each. I applied rooting hormone to the cut end of the stems and stuck them in a container of sand and watered. After 7-10 days they have all rooted. I put six of them into pots but the other 9 are waiting until I have time to put them in their new homes. (Look here for an updated tutorial on How to Propagate Salvia from Cuttings)

propagated salvia from cuttings
I couldn’t resist adding some more salvia so I made 7 cuttings of our ‘May night’ Salvia nemorosa. If you find a long stem you can make it into two or more cuttings by making your cuts just above one of the leaf nodes so that each cutting has a pair of leaves.

Propagate Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian sage)

Just recently I took 9 cuttings of our ‘Longin’ Russian Sage (the one without the plant patent) and placed them in a small sand filled container. Russian sage is deer resistant and does well in Tennessee.

propagate russian sage

Propagate Echinacea purpurea (Coneflower)

I also took some cuttings of a coneflower. It was a discount plant last summer and didn’t have a good label on it. I took a basal stem cuttings of the coneflower.

propagating coneflowers

That makes 15 salvias rooted, 7 more salvias started, 9 Russian sages started, and 6 coneflowers started. Believe it or not I can probably use all these plants (and more) somewhere in our garden!

For more on plant propagation check out this posts: Plant Propagation for Home Gardens.  Also I highly recommend the book below. I’ve used affiliate links to Amazon but I have used this book for several years and find it a valuable resource for my plant propagation addiction!

An Extremely Helpful Plant Propagation Resource

15 thoughts on “Propagating Perennials: Russian Sage, Salvia, and Coneflower”

  1. These are all plants on my mental wish list. I have some purple coneflowers started from seed that are doing well, but this would be so much fun to try in the future. I had no idea there was a plant patent on Russian Sage. I’m going to check out your link.

  2. It is cutting season already. I have been rooting mums. Mums out the ears! I will start giving mine away at some point as gifts, but I can always use more. I do need more salvia…gotta get the pruners.

  3. You’ve inspired me to start some cuttings right away. I just bought some pink freisland salvia and thought I’d make cuttings later on in the summer, but I’m going to do it now. Thanks for a great post.

    Jan Always Growing

  4. Again WOW! If I may be so bold and borrow from Francis, Prince of Propagating Perennial Plants (and Trees/Shrubs).


  5. Amy,

    Russian sage is great you definitely should get some for your garden. I think there is only one kind with a patent on it: ‘Little Spire’. I have a couple of those but also have the ‘Longin’ which is where I’m getting my cuttings from.


    I have some mums rooted too. About 20 or so. I need to start another batch so I can have some to give away. What kinds of salvia do you have?




    I like spring time since they haven’t flowered yet or are just beginning too. Actually one of my ‘May Night’ Salvias is bursting with blooms already. If you do take a cutting make sure that any flowering parts are cut off so that the energy of the plant goes toward roots and not flowers.


    Cool ain’t it!


    No question. Free plants are always great!


    That’s a lot of alliteration!


    Thanks! It really doesn’t take much time to take cuttings. Maybe a half an hour on an occasional morning. The potting up process that comes later on takes time. Go visit Old Country Garden’s and see what Melanie is up to. She’s been really busy!

  6. Hey Dave, I have May Night, East Friesland, Snowhill and I just bought Mealy Sage. I LOVE the sages as they are so easy to grow and never fail. I just learned this two years ago so now I’m hooked. Running out of space and soil for cuttings though!:)

  7. How much do u water the sage after u place it in the sand? Can I use just regular play sand? Thanks Sue

  8. Sue,

    Just check the moisture of the sand and make sure it is damp to the touch but not soaked. You don't want standing water in the sand. I've used play sand many times and it's worked fine. You could use a more coarse buidler's sand which is what most people recommend.

  9. I LOVE your site! You are my propagating hero! My Russian Sage cuttings seem to have started to root but the leaves are a little brown/yellow on the edges. Do I need to mist them more often? I had them in a plastic bag under flourescents since I made the cuttings so I thought the environment was humid enough. What should I do?

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