Plant of the Week – Mexican Bush Sage: September 17, 2020
Unless you’re lucky enough to inherit a photo file that’s been carefully collected and filed, and unless the prior photographer had a great knack for the visual arts, it’s not much fun to sort through someone else’s old 35mm slide boxes.
That’s where I found myself when I came aboard as Dallas County Extension Horticulturist 50 years ago this month.
I opened up one of those old, gold boxes of Kodak slides and found something that looked like it was shot in the Great Depression. Faded colors – it almost looked gray. Tall plant in an odd setting. I wasn’t sure why anyone would have taken that photo.
Jump ahead one year and I was visiting a Dallas park.There it was, but this time in a beautiful setting and in full, rich color. 30 inches tall and velvety purple. Blooming alongside mums and copper plants, showing its glory proudly.
I had made a new friend.
Here’s what you’ll need to know to grow it…
• Mexican bush sage Salvia leucantha
• Native to South Texas and Mexico
• Perennial in southern two-thirds of Texas. (It’s made it through many winters in my gardens in rural DFW. I mulch it with shredded tree leaves in fall.)
• Grows to 30 inches tall, but can be kept at 24 inches with one pinch in late spring. Dwarf forms are available.
• Flowers are borne in terminal spikes that keep producing for 4-6 weeks.
• Flowers are purple and lavender, some varieties with white flower parts.
• Foliage is gray-green and bold.
• Best used toward the back of a perennial garden or behind fall-color annuals such as marigolds or lantana.