Invasive Russian Sage growing through my clematis

Ellensburg, WA

I was hoping that someone might be able to tell me the best way to go about killing the Russian Sage which is growing up through my 10 year-old Proteus. I am hoping that I won't need to dig up the clematis as it is one of my prettiest. I have tried to kill Russian Sage with Round-up, but it doesn't do the job. I have tried keeping the ground wet to make it uninhabitable for the Russian Sage, but to no avail. I have dug up the largest roots I can find that might be feeding the RS branches, but new sprouts keep showing up. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

My first thought would be to dig up the Russian Sage as well as the clematis. Try for the clematis first to preserve as much of the roots as possible. It is worth the hassle to save your Proteus. The RS has roots that go deep so be sure to get them all. It's hard work.

Ellensburg, WA


Thanks so much for your advice, Pirl. I was pretty sure that I was going to need to dig some fox holes to remedy the problem. I hope that I can dig a large enough root ball to rescue Proteus with minimal setback.

It is always a pleasure to read information shared by you and others on the clematis forum. I have learned so much and I know that my clematis appreciate it. They respond to extra effort with stunning displays.

Love your new pup :)

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

You're quite welcome. You're in for a bit of a struggle. Last year I planted a Russian Sage that a friend sent me and it took her and her strong son to even dig it up. It took a year to recover and still needs another year or two in order to look good.

The Proteus is the one you're out to save so chop away at the sage so you can unearth the clematis. I'd leave a hose running on low for a few hours before attempting the job. It will help loosen the roots of both plants but you will probably find it easier to hack away at the sage but then stop and lift the clematis. From there you will have to tease out the big roots of the sage. As I said, you're in for a struggle.

Read the only negative review for the Russian Sage on DG - it's interesting:
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/733

I couldn't locate photos of the roots but they are a mass of beige/white carrot like structures, much wider at the top near the crown, than below but still quite intense and teasing them out of the clematis will require a hand pruner and a lot of patience. You might want to protect the roots of the clematis with wet towels to keep them damp while you go through the procedure. Please let us all know how it worked out and take photos, if possible.

Thanks. We love him, too. He gets an A in charming!

Thumbnail by pirl

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