Home & Garden

New Front Yard: Hummers buzz to Mexican bush sage

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum “New Front Yard” series, 41 drought-tolerant and beautiful plants well adapted to our region.

Mexican bush sage

Salvia leucantha

Size: Under 4 feet.

Bloom season: Late summer, fall.

Pruning needs: Little or none; prune in late winter or early spring to keep compact.

Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

Water needs: Once established, water deeply once a week.

Snapshot: Sometimes called velvet sage, this pretty perennial forms a bushy shrub, 3 to 4 feet tall and just as wide, that blooms later than other salvias. Hummingbirds can’t resist its abundant, velvety blooms. Unlike other Mexican bush sages, the “Midnight” variety (which will be offered by the Arboretum) has all purple blooms with no white petals. With silver gray-green foliage and fuzzy stems, this water-wise sage adds a lush cottage garden feel to a drought-tolerant garden and is a good choice for bushy borders or the back row of flower beds. In Sacramento, it prefers light afternoon shade to protect it from intense heat and sunburn. It grows well in containers, too. You can see specimens in the Southwest and Mexican collection of the UC Davis Arboretum on the UC Davis campus.

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Debbie Arrington

More online

See photo galleries of the arboretum’s Community Favorites and Arboretum All-Stars at sacbee.com/home_garden.

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