Plant of the Month: Chihuahuan-Sage, Plant Fragrance!

May 19, 2020

Chihuahuan-Sage, Leucophyllum laevigatum is a low-maintenance evergreen shrub with a spiky, but loose form. The periodic masses of lavender flowers are not only fragrant but will attract hummingbirds, too.


Medium green leaves are somewhat sparsely arranged, yet they cling tightly along the erect to spreading branches of Chihuahuan-sage. Individual leaves measure ½ inch long and ¼ inch wide at the bluntly rounded tip. This evergreen shrub normally reaches a height of 4 feet and a width of 5 feet. The ½-inch-long flowers, like the leaves, are closely attached to the stems. During the summer blooming season, the shrub looks like a big bouquet of pale bluish lavender spikes. The flowers have a pleasant fragrance. Chihuahuan-sage doesn’t seem to be as dependent on humidity and warmth to bloom as the other Leucophyllum species. A thorough watering can prompt blooming.

“The fragrance of Chihuahuan-sage’s summer-blooming flowers would be nice around a patio or pool or in an entry courtyard.”

Native Distribution

Chihuahuan-sage occurs on rocky limestone hillsides from 4,000 to 7,800 feet in elevation in Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas, and San Luis Potosí, Mexico.

Chihuahuan-Sage in bloom
Chihuahuan Sage form is loose and airy. Photo: Steve Priebe


Full sun or light shade is acceptable to Chihuahuan-sage. It is drought tolerant once established; supplemental irrigation once or twice a month through the hottest months will maintain a moderate growth rate and attractive appearance. The ideal soil type is limestone-based and well-drained although Chihuahuan-sage can adapt to other soils. It has endured temperatures to 18º F with no cold damage. Pruning is unnecessary, as Chihuahuan-sage naturally takes on a uniform, rounded shape.

Landscape Use

The fragrance of Chihuahuan-sage’s summer-blooming flowers would be nice around a patio or pool or in an entry courtyard. Chihuahuan-sage could be used near the house as a foundation planting, visually blending the structure with the landscape. It also could be used in a naturalistic desert landscape or, more formally, as a medium-height hedge. Chihuahuan-sage and Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum frutescens) make an interesting combination in hedges or mass plantings because of their similar forms yet different foliage and flower color.

Chihuahuan-Sage with Dysoddia
The fragrant lavender flowers look great combined with this golden dyssodia. Photo: Steve Priebe

Did you know that up to 70% of water use is outdoors? That is why we love desert plants and feature them each month. You can learn more about Chihuahuan 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!

Other articles of interest :

Water – Use It Wisely is proud to feature guest bloggers who write about topics related to water and water conservation. The author of this blog, Judy Mielke is a horticulturist, Landscape Architect, and the author of one of Water – Use It Wisely’s favorite books. You can find plant descriptions like this and many more in her book, Native Plants for Southwestern Landscapes.