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Description

The Mexican bush sage is one of the top flowering garden shrubs in landscapes and gardens across the Inland Empire. It is a medium size mounding shrub comprised of numerous basal stems growing quickly to 3-5 ft. high and as wide. Foliage is comprised of long and narrow leaves, 3-6 in. long, 1/2 in. wide, olive-green above and silvery-white below. A striking purple and white floral display occurs from late summer into late fall comprised of tall flower spikes with numerous fuzzy purple calyces and flowers.

Mexican bush sage comes from tropical and subtropical climate zones in central and eastern Mexico, and has proven to be one of the most popular plants for residential gardens. It grows best in sunny locations, tolerates a variety of soil conditions and thrives with low amounts of water. Mexican bush sage is valued for its uniform growth habit, soft foliage color and abundant late season flowering. Long stems of this species should be pruned close to the ground in mid winter to make room for new growth. It is a long-lived sage species that will develop a large rootstock over time, resulting in increasingly larger plants.

Several cultivars are available from nurseries including: S. l. 'Midnight' that has purple flowers and stems, and S. l. 'Santa Barbara' that is a smaller growing selection 2-3 ft. high with light purple-white flowering character.

Water Needs

Mexican sage grows best in sunny locations on well drained soils and with low amounts of supplemental water during summer. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water; young plants grow faster and flower longer with deep monthly watering during spring, summer and fall.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 2

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
 
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"-14"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

 
0"-2"
0"-2"
0"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
0"-2"
0"-2"
  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Shrub
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Mounding
Growth Rate: Fast
Height: 3 ft. - 5 ft.
Width: 3 ft. - 5 ft.
Water Needs: Low 2
Foliage Color: Pale green
Flower Color: Purple
Flower Season: Summer, Fall
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Loam, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, All day sun
Function: Hummingbird plant, Flowering accent plant, Container plant, Borders, Banks, Attracts butterflies

Maintenance

Prune to the ground in midwinter once the plant is looking like it needs it (S). It will regrow quickly once the weather heats up. Salvia leucantha can be pruned to shape as desired through the late spring and summer (5).

Associations

Plant Palettes

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