Week before last we must have had a spike in humidity levels because all the Texas sage bushes in the neighborhood started flowering. They were so pretty, I thought I’d add a plant of the week this week.
Also called purple sage, or Texas silverleaf, the scientific name of this Texas native plant is Leucophyllum frutescens. They appear gray because their leaves are densely covered with silvery hairs. The flowers may be white, pink, lavender, purple, or blue, depending on the variety. Texas sages characteristically bloom after a rain, or at least a local rise in humidity levels. This interesting trait gives them the common name of “Texas barometer bush.”
Check out the white and contrasting spots in the throat of the flower.
Texas sage and other related species are widely planted as water-conserving ornamentals in the southwestern United States. They can get quite big if watered occasionally and allowed to spread to their natural form.
It isn’t uncommon to see them pruned as well. Pruning does cut down on the number of flowers, which are at the stem tips.
If you are interested in butterfly gardening, you might want to consider planting some of these shrubs. It turns out that they are also hosts for caterpillars, (although I’ve never seen any on ours.) Further south in Arizona there have been reports of caterpillars of the Theona Checkerspot (Chlosyne theona) using the sage as a food plant.
Caterpillars of an attention-grabbing moth called the Calleta silkmoth (Eupackardia calleta) also feed on Texas sage. If you live in an area where they are found, you should look for them. Check the map at the Butterflies and Moths of North America website linked to the name of the moth.
Every year I am plagued by either spider mites and or these small grey brown bugs that if I do not directly remove, will take over the entire bush and destroy it. The leaves curl up then and fall off. HELP! I have tried soap sprays and bug sprays to no avail
You know, I’m afraid I can’t be much help without seeing the situation. I would recommend that you contact your county Cooperative Extension office. If you submit samples of the insects and/or damage, they will be able to identify your problem and give you ideas that are targeted for your specific growing conditions. Many Cooperative Extension offices have Master Gardeners, volunteers trained to help with problems like you describe.
I am a flower artist living in Texas and I love Texas sage, it is a wonderful plant and we have several in our yard.
Very inspiring photographs, thanks for the article.