As I drove to work a couple of weeks ago, I noticed the Texas Sage shrubs in my neighborhood were ablaze with purple blooms. At first, I thought only a few were blooming along the right-of-way, but as I meandered deeper into my neighborhood toward the highway, I found just about every sage bush I came upon was abloom. When I arrived home that afternoon, I went out to my mailbox as usual and noticed my own 6 ft sage bush was also adorned in purple! This was the first time it had bloomed all year.
Texas Sage is an evergreen shrub with silver to silvery-green leaves and infrequent purple, tubular-shaped blooms. It can grow up to 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide, but you may keep it trimmed to your desired size as a specimen plant or utilize it en masse as a hedge. It is native to Texas and is very drought tolerant and tolerant of poor, alkaline soil. It can endure the full, hot sun but will also survive with part shade. The only negative with the shrub is it can develop root rot if it receives too much water. It is attractive when used as a backdrop or specimen in desert, xeriscape and native planting beds. It thrives in the arid areas of Zone 7 and southward, i.e., the southwestern United States and Mexico.
There are several varieties of Texas Sage available and newer types may bloom more vibrantly and more often than the older varieties. My sage pictured above is an older variety and its blooms are more sparse and lighter in color than those planted along my neighborhood street shown in the pic below. Regardless, last week they ALL appeared to be blooming in unison. When such finicky bloomers all join in to bloom at the same time, something interesting must be going on, right?
Well, I’ve always known you can expect Texas Sage may go into bloom a day or so after a rain shower. However, there hadn’t been rain in our area for months prior to these shrubs bursting open.
This led me to research Texas Sage a bit more in depth. What I discovered is Texas Sage has many names, including Purple Sage, Phoenix Sage, Cenizo, Wild Lilac, Texas Silverleaf and Texas Ranger, however the one name that caught my attention is Barometer Bush. And thus, I learned that while Texas Sage does tend to bloom a day or so after rain, it can also begin blooming when conditions are merely optimal for rain to occur. This apparently has to do with the plant’s extreme sensitivity and ability to detect high humidity in the atmosphere.
An old wives’ tale states you can count on rain within 7 days of seeing a Texas Sage burst into bloom. Indeed, shortly after my shrub was ablaze with purple, we were fortunate to have had a couple of days of sweet, steady rain. Considering our recent very dry summer, here’s to seeing a little more purple in our landscapes this fall.
Until next time,
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