Salvia leucantha

Mexican bush sage


If you have a soft spot for graceful arching stems that are powdery white, and willow-like leaves with silvery-white woolly undersides, all on a windswept wild-looking shrub, then S. leucantha, the Mexican bush sage, is the best sage for you.

First one falls in love with this herbaceous shrub when the new growth appears on the winter-bare stems (it is semi-deciduous, so sometimes bare). You lose your heart completely when the long sprays of small white flowers appear in spring, protected by their gorgeous, velvety purple or lavender blue calyces. This is a tough, wind-resistant shrub that grows and blooms with vigour all through summer, reaching peak flower power in early autumn. Just before winter strikes you will need to cut it back into shape, before it goes into a short rest period.

Unfortunately for those with cold, frosty gardens, S. leucantha prefers a hot and dry Mediterranean or subtropical climate. It performs well in sandy, well-drained soil and can tolerate periods of drought with ease. The profuse inflorescences extend way beyond the foliage, making this a very attractive and highly visible plant in a mixed border.

The Gardener