Texas Sage (Cenizo)

Photo Credit: Randy Lemmon
Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) – Also known as Cenizo, Texas Rain Sage, Texas Silverleaf, Purple Sage and many others.

In the summer of 2022, thanks to oppressive heat and little rain, nothing was more of a Rock Star in the landscapes than good old fashioned Texas Native known as Cenizo. Wait! I’m certain very few of you know Cenizo.  You probably know it as ‘Texas Sage’.

It truly is one of the most outstanding native plants that can handle our extremes. It is a medium-sized shrub with a compact form, delicate silvery to gray-green leaves, and stunning displays of prolific purple blooms from summer into fall.  Cenizo is sometimes called “barometer bush” because flowering is triggered by humidity or high soil moisture after rains.

In areas of high rainfall or poorly drained soil, Cenizo should be planted in raised beds. It is extremely drought and heat tolerant and maintenance-free once established.  Watering in dry summer months will make it grow faster but overwatering or poor drainage will quickly kill it.  They are not susceptible to pests or diseases other than cotton root rot, which well-drained soil will discourage.

Shade will promote leggy growth and less flowering. If they are planted in acid soils, dolomitic limestone should be added. Fertilizing is unnecessary.

Sheared Cenizo hedges are a common sight, especially in municipal plantings, but maintaining its natural shape with only light pruning produces a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing shape. This can be done in late winter or early spring before flower buds form, and possibly again in early summer.

Oh, and they were rock stars after the February 2021 Freeze as well and are well-known as being hardy to 5 degrees F. Leaves may become sparse in winter but will reappear with warmer weather. And if left alone and pruned only sparingly over the years, they can get as tall and as wide as 8 feet each way!