The Purple Sage of cowboy song fame!
Explore Jul 18, 2011 #144
This fuzzy purple flower reached out to me as I walked by the mounds of huge, strange cacti! So delicate. So elegant. And so desert! It takes a lot to keep desert plants alive here in South Florida where we get far too much rain for their tastes. Teams of workers dig down and fill their bed with sand and the mound up gravel to assure optimal drainage.
Leucophyllum frutescens, also called Texas sage, barometer bush, etc., a purple-flowered shrub of Mexico and Texas where it is the official state native shrub. It is considered "the purple sage" of cowboy song fame.
Purple sage comes from shrublands on limestone slopes in the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas, New Mexico, and northern Mexico. It is now widely cultivated in Florida and Southeast Asia, where it flowers magnificently in steamy tropical weather.
Purple sage grows best in gravelly limerock soils, but it isn't picky about pH. This species does not like fertilizer or compost and will be reluctant to bloom in rich soil. The plants tend to sprawl and get leggy as they age. To prevent this, keep the soil dry and lean and tip prune to encourage dense foliage and compact branching. Purple sage grows slowly, so hedges of this species do not require very frequent pruning.
Purple Sage prefers full sun but can get by on 4-6 hours of direct sun per day. Purple sage must have exceptionally well drained soil. Water it conscientiously until it is well established, then treat it like the desert plant it is. Overwatered plants will get floppy and resist blooming.
Purple Sage, Leucophyllum frutescens
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, FL