Adapted to our soil, heat and occasional drought-like conditions, the plant called the Texas sage is a great Florida-Friendly Landscaping recommended shrub. I may say that often, but look around Charlotte County and you will see this plant fairly well-represented in parking areas and residential homes. Texas sage is a southwestern native plant that has adapted well to our area.

Originally from New Mexico, Texas and points south, Texas sage likes our alkaline soil – imagine that. This small shrub does require well-drained soil, however, so in wet areas, raised planting beds or high and dry well-drained soils are recommended. Poor drainage will definitely result in root rot. Full sun will also bring out the best in this plant. Reported to dislike compost-enriched soil and even supplemental fertilizer, the Texas sage works well as a short hedge which only requires minimal pruning. Beyond keeping straggly specimens in check, over-pruning can make this plant look unnatural. Specimens also do well in large containers for decks or patios. At only 3- to 5-feet tall and wide, Texas sage has silvery-gray hairy leaves and striking purple/lavender tubular flowers from summer through fall. The main flowering event is triggered by rainfall and humidity, which corresponds well with our wet season.

Propagate Texas sage from seed or from rooted cuttings. This plant is readily available at practically all garden centers. The UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants gives Texas sage a “not a problem species” designation, which is a good verification of its non-invasiveness.

Almost all plants have some selected unusual cultivars and Texas sage is no different. For something a bit unique within your landscape plant palette, look for the Texas sage cultivars White Cloud, which sports white flowers, and Green Cloud, which has green and not silver leaves.

Texas sage is hardy, drought tolerant and a beautiful landscape plant. One additional feature of this shrub you may not have thought about: It is a good candidate for what is called a Moonlight Garden. The silvery, gray-green leaves shimmer in the moonlight for a different look and visual experience.

Grow some Texas sage – Florida style – and have a great sustainable plant in your landscape. For more information on all types of flowering shrubs suitable for growing in Southwest Florida now, or to ask a question, please visit www.facebook.com/CharlotteMGLifeline.

Ralph E. Mitchell is the director/horticulture agent for the UF/IFAS Charlotte County Extension Service. He can be reached at 941-764-4344 or ralph.mitchell@charlottecountyfl.gov.

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