Mexican bush sage is a favorite of mine and it is gaining in popularity among gardeners. Unlike most sages that happily bloom in the spring and early summer, Mexican bush sage is a contrarian waiting to bloom towards the end of August into October. While most sage are prized for their culinary benefit, Mexican bush sage is sought for its ornamental value.
The plant bursts out with an eye-catching bicolored purple and white show. The purple comes from the calyces, the outer base coverings for the small delicate white flowers. Calyces will show long after the flowers fall off. The combination of purple and white create a striking visual element to any garden.
For those who might like a single deep purple flower the ‘Midnight’ and ‘Santa Barbara’ present a purple-on-purple show. The ‘Santa Barbara’ also offers a more compact growth option. While most Mexican bush sage grow 4’ tall and 3’wide, ‘Santa Barbara’ grows 2-3’ tall and wide.
Mexican sage is a wonderful plant for attracting pollinators to the garden. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to the plant. The plant is not on the menu for deer and rabbits, a big attraction for gardeners in our area.
In the winter it will die back to the ground, don’t make the mistake of thinking the plant is dead and digging it up, it will come back in the spring. Wait until the last frost before cutting the dead stalks back, it will help protect any tender new shoots that might sprout.
There are many reasons to consider this plant for your garden:
- It’s easy to grow once established
- Suitable for beds, borders and containers
- It’s outstanding for cut flowers
- It’s loved by pollinators, ignored by deer and rabbits
- Drought tolerant
- It requires minimum care
You can prune the plant a couple of times in the spring and summer to promote denser more compact growth and bloom. Deadhead flowers as they start to fade to promote continuing flowering.
The Mexican sage bush is an exceptional plant and will be a welcomed addition to any garden.
Written by: Cliff Blackerby, 9/21