Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) is an evergreen shrub in tropical locations, but in areas that suffer heavy frosts, it is grown as a perennial with severe die-back during the cold months. The plant normally grows 2 to 4 feet in height, with a mounding growth habit. The plant's stems stand out because they are white and woolly in appearance. Mexican bush sage is native to Mexico and Central America.
From autumn through winter, the Mexican sage bush will produce flowers in temperate regions. The plant blooms white with lavender and purple calyces on long spears. The calyces are cup-like structures on the blossom that appear furry and soft to the touch. Each flower spear can measure 6 to 12 inches in length. The flowering is normally profuse and striking. Many gardeners enjoy clipping the flower spears for a cut flower bouquet. In areas with frost and cold winters, the plant will cease flowering in the late fall.
Sunlight and Water
Mexican bush sage maintains a bushy growth habit when grown in full sun but will become leggy in appearance when grown in shady conditions. The plant does well in drought conditions but cannot withstand water-logged soil around its roots. It can sustain severe rot and may die if subjected to wet roots for a long period of time. The low water requirements of the Mexican bush sage make the plant an excellent choice in any xeriscape garden
Hummingbirds and Butterflies
The Mexican sage is a wonderful food source for hummingbirds. When the blossoms appear, the tiny birds can cover the plant, seeking the flowers' nectar. Butterflies also congregate around the flower spears.
Each spring, the Mexican bush sage can be trimmed back to ground level to encourage a bushy plant growth. Spring pruning is optional because the plant thrives without being trimmed to the ground, but the shrub's spread will not be as mounding if left to grow wild. Spring pruning is ideal in a garden setting that requires the plant to remain in compact mound form.
You can start Mexican bush sage indoors from seeds or cuttings and plant them after the danger of frost has passed. You also can propagate the shrub by laying a stem from the plant into the dirt and lightly covering with soil. The stem will sprout roots and can be replanted to begin a new bush sage.