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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Texas sage offers abundance of small lavender flowers

By Staff | Jul 29, 2015

Texas sage. Anita Force Marshall

First impression: Great plant for big wow factor oodles of small lavender flowers that are shaped like curled bells. These hues of purple are surrounded by small fuzzy silver gray colored leaves. Such an upright shrub with a natural shape it almost looks artificial in our tropical landscape. No detectable fragrance but pollinators are everywhere! 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, which 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. Eversilver, so even when it doesn’t explode with lavender flowers, it will still draw your eye to it. The flowers are 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 nonnative and hails from southwest Texas and Mexico.

Mature height for this 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, 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, which probably led to coughing and congestion!

Texas sage. Anita Force Marshall

Pros:

* Evergreen (silver)

* Very attractive to wildlife

* Minimal insect damage

* Blooming brings in the pollinators

Texas sage. Anita Force Marshall

* Butterflies love its nectar

* Great for a privacy hedge/barrier

* May have an urge to watch a good western

Cons:

* Over pruning negates flowers

* May start hearing yee-haws outside in the garden

* Loses leaves when cold

* Brewing tea smells like dirty socks

* Does poorly with overwatering

* Nonnative

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!

**Remember we have a yearly fertilizer restriction during July 1 through Oct. 2. This is a very important mandatory restriction to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into our precious waterways. Any fertilizing during our rainy season, only ends up in our water resources as unwanted algae blooms.**