A Sage Old Texan

Blooming recently at JLBG is Patrick’s compact, silver-leaf collection of Leucophyllum frutescens from Uvalde, Texas. Leucophyllum frutescens is an evergreen, dryland shrub to 5′ tall, which bursts into an amazing show of flowers after summer rains. We’ve long-loved leucophyllums, but had failed in several attempts to grow them…0 for 7 prior to this attempt with his collection. Our plants have been in the ground for just over a year, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for long-term success. They key to success is very good drainage in both summer and winter.

Leucophyllum frutescens flowering
Leucophyllum frutescens blooming

4 thoughts on “A Sage Old Texan”

  1. Does Leucophyllum frutescens de-foliate in the winter at JLBG? I’m growing it just up the road from you in Durham, NC (south-facing, next to my home’s concrete foundation) and it has lost all leaves both years at the first sign of cold (mid-November). Stems go brittle. But the plant re-emerged strongly from new crown growth last year. No blooms at all in 2022, which was a real bummer, as it bloomed repeatedly the summer I planted it in 2021. Wondering if my soil just retains a bit too much water in the winter. I was careful to incorporate lots aggregate and compost at planting, and I set the top of the root ball slightly above grade.

    1. Our leucophyllums have not defoliated this winter. The most important key in growing them in cold wet climates is to have plant genetics from the coldest parts of their range. Typically commercial strain genetics will not survive our normal winters, which are slight colder that what we’ve seen so far this year. Our 2021/2022 winter which only registered Zone 8b temperatures, but was probably cold enough to kill commercial leucophyllums to the ground. Unless you see another Zone 9 winter, where the temperatures don’t drop below 20 degrees F, I doubt you’ll see flowers…if your plant survives this year. The next most important key is dry, well-drained soil in the winter. Hope this helps.

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