Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Texas purple sage: A great waterwise plant

Leucophyllum frutescens, also known as ceniza, barometer bush, or Texas purple sage. This shrub has been in bloom numerous times this summer in response to the rains that we've had. Last year, during our terrible drought, I think it only bloomed once.

Purple sage is a shrub that can grow 4-6 feet tall and just about that wide. It thrives during hot summers and can withstand drought, as it did in my yard over the last couple of years. In my yard, it lives in a bed where I very seldom provide any supplemental water and so it has to be tough enough to find the moisture it needs and survive on its own. Last summer it dropped a lot of its leaves, and the ones that remained looked wilted most of the time, but it managed to survive until the rains came again. Then it put on a growth spurt, developing new leaves and limbs. It is now full of the attractive silver rounded foliage that provides such a nice background for the snapdragon-like flowers that cover the bush. As the blossoms mature and fall, they carpet the ground beneath with their pink beauty.

These pretty blossoms are attractive to hummingbirds and bees. The shrub is also a host plant for the caterpillars of checkerspot butterflies. I occasionally see various kinds of checkerspots in my garden, but I haven't noticed any caterpillars; however, this is a big shrub with dense leaves. There could be lots of little caterpillars in there and I might not necessarily see them.

This is a shrub that is very amenable to shaping or shearing. I cut mine back pretty severely in late winter and it never missed a beat. It just got fuller and leafier and more attractive (to my eye anyway). It really is an excellent shrub for our area, particularly if you need something in the gray palate. According to the plant guides, it will grow from zone 7b-10. My 9a garden is right in its happy zone!


  1. I have a couple of these and they beat all the other sages hands down! Nice post