August 30, 2016

Texas sages are among the most reliable and fool-proof of the low water use plants available in Arizona. In the past twenty years, many new species and varieties have been brought into cultivation. These evergreen shrubs are native to Texas and Mexico, and perform well in our desert with very little maintenance.

These shrubs require full sun and good drainage. This genus is now available in a wide range of mature sizes, and when the proper Texas sage is selected, no pruning is required. Selective pruning can be performed if desired to maintain shape. All of the Texas sages tolerate temperatures down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as thrive in our summer heat.

Leucophyllums can be used in a wide range of landscape situations, included focal points, visual and wind screening, accents, and wildlife habitat. With the onset of summer monsoons, leucophyllum explodes in a burst of color, giving it the nickname barometer plant. They can survive on little to no supplemental watering except during periods of extreme drought, and can die if over watered.

pl_Texas Sage Compact From Scottsdale demo garden Bill C
Compact Texas Sage. Photo: Bill Casenhiser

Leucophyllum frutescens ‘Compacta’ or Compact Texas Sage

Leucophyllum frutescens, also known as Texas ranger, has several cultivars. Compact Texas sage has gray foliage and deep pink flowers. It reaches a mature size of 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide. This variety is denser than the ‘Green Cloud’ and Chihuahuan sages, and is a popular choice for screening.

Green Cloud Sage. Photo: Bill Casenhiser
Green Cloud Sage. Photo: Bill Casenhiser

Leucophyllum frutescens ‘Green Cloud’ or Green Cloud Sage

This trademarked plant was released by Texas A & M University, and was selected for its bright green foliage and large violet-purple flowers. This is one of the larger selections of Texas sage, with a mature size of 6 feet tall and wide and an open growth form.

Silver Cloud Sage. Photo: Steve Priebe

Leucophyllum candidum ‘Silver Cloud’ or Silver Cloud Sage

This trademarked plant, with its silvery foliage and deep purple flowers, provides contrasting color and texture with other shades of green in the landscape. This sage can grow up to 5 feet tall and wide and has a dense form. This particular leucophyllum is especially sensitive to overwatering.

Chihuahuan Sage: Photo: Steve Priebe
Chihuahuan Sage: Photo: Steve Priebe

Leucophyllum laevigatum or Chihuahuan Sage

The Chihuahuan Sage has a loose, open growth habit (see closeup in the upper right). It has a unique angular branching pattern, small, dark leaves, and masses of fragrant lavender flowers that attract hummingbirds. This sage commonly grows 6 feet tall and wide.


Did you know that up to 70% of water use is outdoors? That’s why we love desert plants and feature them each month. It’s still a great time to plant, and you can learn more about Texas Sage and other plants on our Arizona Low-Water-Use Plants page. Visit our page on Choosing and Planting Low Water-Use Plants for tips on plant selection and how to plant properly. Also, be sure to read through all of our featured Plant of the Month blogs!

This feature is based on a concept and text originally developed jointly by the Arizona Nursery Association and the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA) with partial funding from the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Learn more about these and other great desert plants at the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert plant database or see our previously featured Plant of the Month blogs.