Texans have the dual challenge of finding plants that can do well in the shade,…
As we move from spring into the heat of summer, our early-season plantings and roadside wildflowers take a break from the heat and begin to go dormant. This sets the stage for more heat-tolerant, desert-like species like yuccas and agaves to put on a show, and one tough shrub – Texas sage – stands out from the crowd once temperatures move above 90 degrees.
Texas sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) – also known as cenizo or “Texas Ranger” – is a heat and drought tolerant evergreen shrub native to central and south Texas. It is easy to recognize, with mounds of small, dense leaves covered in silky hairs that give this shrub a beautiful silvery-green color. Texas sage blooms off and on in the heat of summer and can be completely covered in blooms shading from deep lavender to pale lilac; blooming often follows a rainstorm, so it is sometimes nicknamed “barometer plant”. Plants average around 4’ tall and 3’ wide, though depending on conditions, they may reach 8’ tall.
One reason Texas sage is so popular for xeriscape gardens and “desert Southwest”-style landscapes is that there are many cultivars – ‘Silverado’, ‘Desperado’, ‘Green Cloud’, and ‘Silver Cloud’ are just a few – and each offers variations in size, leaf and flower color, and frequency of blooming. Some cultivars stay small and are ideal in pots on a sunny patio or at the edge of a pool. When planting Texas sage in the landscape, consider grouping several plants together or planting larger cultivars in a row as a screening hedge. The unique and lovely colors of Texas sage add interest to any garden in a mass planting. Because it’s evergreen, you’ll have silvery-green foliage even in winter, though after a hard freeze, some foliage may die back.
Gardeners love Texas sage, too, because it’s so easy to grow. Like many desert plants, it requires no fertilization and only enough water only to get established, and the compact shape seldom needs to be pruned; a light shearing in early spring will help maintain the overall shape of the shrub. It thrives in full sun and tolerates reflected heat. One factor to remember is that Texas sage must have excellent drainage. It doesn’t need quality soil, rich in nutrients; in fact, it thrives in poor soils. However, in the Metroplex, our heavy clay soils will have to be amended to improve drainage.
Texas sage is a great addition to any full-sun landscape: beautiful, easy to grown and Texas tough. Are you challenged by growing in your full-sun landscape? A consultation with a North Haven Gardens Garden Coach (in-store $35/45 minutes or at home within our service area, $125 for 1 hour) is a great way to plan an update of your landscape or learn how to incorporate and establish special plants you’ve always admired. To learn more, go to nhg.com/garden-coach-program/.