Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - June 12, 2015

From: Palmerton, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shrubs
Title: How to Overwinter Texas Sage in PA
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I live in northeast PA. I just bought a Texas sage tree. How do I care for it in the winter?

ANSWER:

Whether it is called Texas sage, Cenizo, Texas barometer bush, Texas silverleaf, or Purple sage, Leucophyllum frutescens is a great plant for the southwest because it is drought tolerant, has a beautiful display of lavender flowers a few days after it rains in the summer or fall and silvery foliage. But the plant is only hardy to USDA zone 8 - quite a ways south of PA.

Here's what we say about the shrub on the www.wildflower.org website:

A gray shrub with leaves densely covered with stellate, silvery hairs and bright pink-lavender, bilaterally symmetrical flowers borne singly in crowded leaf axils. Typically a compact shrub, 2-5 ft. tall, Texas barometer-bush or cenizo occasionally reaches 8 ft. in height, and 4-6 ft. in width. Leaves silvery gray to greenish, soft to the touch, up to 1 1/4 inches long but mostly 1 inch or less, tapering more gradually to the base than to the rounded tip, margins smooth. Flowers violet to purple, sometimes pink, nearly bell shaped, and up to 1 inch in length and width, appearing intermittently from spring to fall. Fruit a small capsule.

As one travels east across southern Texas near the Mexican border, the olive green of Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata) gives way to the gray of this species, with its display of bright pink-lavender flowers. These burst into bloom for only a few days at a time, in the summer and fall, depending on rainfall. The ashy appearance of the leaves, also described as silvery, white, or gray, is due to the millions of tiny hairs covering them. A grouping of several individuals makes a good screen or hedge. There are many nice color selections and cultivars. This and other Leucophyllum species are popular water-conserving ornamentals in the Southwest.

Now, keeping your shrub indoors in PA over the winter will be a challenge and you will have to try and give your Texas sage the most sunlight (south or west window), warmest location, and try to keep it on the dry side for it to survive.  Good luck!

 

More Shrubs Questions

Need Small Native Shrub in Dallas, TX
September 17, 2010 - We live in Dallas and are looking for a dwarf bush that we can plant in the space between the sidewalk and the street in front of our house. It would receive full sun to partial shade. We would like...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native yellow lantana from Elgin TX
June 17, 2012 - Why do my yellow lantana buds turn brown and do not open fully? The sprinkler system does not spray onto the lantana.
view the full question and answer

Plants for under a fountain splash line in California
January 29, 2009 - What plants should we plant under our fountain's splash line in our Mediterranean style courtyard? The area will get wet from the fountain's splashing and have "full" sun. We are on a rock ridge...
view the full question and answer

Rooting cuttings in water from Rifle CO
July 11, 2012 - Found russian sage lavender stems from cutting. Need to find out if I can root them in water? I also have found rose cutting; wondering if I can put them in water to root? I have a western chokecher...
view the full question and answer

Texas Mountain Laurel in Florida
March 13, 2009 - Hi Mr. Smarty, This is more a comment than a question about Barbara Medford's (Estero, FL) question of whether you can grow Texas Mountain Laurel in Ft. Myers, FL. About 4 yrs. ago, I purchased a ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.