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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Texas Sage

By Staff | Jul 21, 2011

First impression: Great plant for big wow factor- oodles of small lavender flowers that are shaped like curled bells. What a great color combo, surrounded by small fuzzy silver gray colored leaves. This upright shrub has a natural shape and almost looks artificial in our tropical landscape. No detectable fragrance but pollinators are everywhere! What a showstopper! You can see this Texas native dancing in the breeze and in full fabulous bloom at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: I discover that the genus leucophyllum includes plants that have characteristic foliage that is in colors of whites and grays. I am always looking for that something different to plant in our garden. Silvery gray leaves are a great dimensional addition for us here in paradise. Soft, thick, velvety silver leaves that invite you to reach out and touch them. Evergreen, so even when it doesn’t explode with lavender flowers, it will still draw your eye to it. Small five lobed petals that are bell shaped and remind me of foxglove blooms. Beautiful dotted and lined nectar guides in the throats that really make this flower gorgeous up close. Our star is a non-native and hails from southwest Texas and Mexico. Very versatile for our tropical gardens will take well drained soils, full sun, and are salt-tolerant. Always a winner, for it is in the little or no pests, drought tolerant and few diseases category. Mature height for this natural shaped shrub is around 8 feet tall. I have had great success with naturally pruning it to encourage more flowers. This means no hedging or edging, so that it doesn’t look like a mushroom or box. Plants have a natural shape, which should be mimicked when pruning. Out dated, over pruning is a huge waste of resources and leads to a very unhappy, unhealthy and unattractive garden. I encourage you to try this for plant for borders and natural fences. Its dense growth habit lends itself to privacy with a wonderful display of color and habitat friendliness. Texas Sage is a great food source for birds, butterflies, and a huge variety of pollinators and wildlife. I enjoy watching our garden birds hop from twig to twig. The small Warblers are attracted to the insects that hover around the flowers. The Mockingbirds, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Thrashers, and Catbirds not only look for insects but hide from predators. I have even discovered many birds nesting in our Texas Sage. Nests fit very nicely in the groupings of shrubs. Closely grouped shrubs will offer prospective parents plenty of support and multiple exits and entrances to confuse predators. Interesting trivia: In days gone by many Texans recall grandparents brewing Texas Sage leaves for tea. This brew is called Cenizo tea, and was used for relief from congestion, coughing and the common cold. One of its downfalls was the not very pleasant aroma its brewing emitted.

Pros: Evergreen (silver) – Drought tolerant – Very attractive to wildlife – Slow growing – Minimal insect damage – Blooming brings in the pollinators – Butterflies love its nectar – Great for a privacy hedge/barrier – Minimal pruning – May have an urge to watch a good western – Salt tolerant.

Cons: Over pruning negates flowers – Blooming brings in the bees – May start hearing yee-haws outside in the garden – Loses leaves when cold – Brewing tea smells like dirty socks – Does poorly with over watering – Non native.

Conclusion: So, put on those dusty cowboy boots and sashay over to our silvery shimmery new star in town. So many lavender blossoms, so little time in our tropical eye catching garden.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!