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Dallas Morning News - July 31, 2018

Texas Sage Rain Legend

Texas sage is an evergreen, drought-tolerant shrub with silver to silvery-green leaves and infrequent purple, tubular-shaped blooms.

I really like plants that do more than just look pretty. Texas Sage fits that category because it tells you when it’s going to rain - or something close to that.

Texas Sage is an evergreen, drought tolerant shrub with silver to silvery-green leaves and infrequent purple, tubular-shaped blooms. It grows to 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide, but can be trimmed to a lower height. It is native to Texas and tolerant of poor, alkaline soil. It likes full sun but will tolerate part shade. It will not tolerate wet soil and can develop root rot and die quickly if it receives too much water. Using this plant in beds that don’t drain well definitely won’t work. This sage is attractive when used as a backdrop, mass planting or specimen for low-water landscaping, native planting beds and in other places where common sense is being used.

There are several varieties of Texas Sage available some new ones that bloom more impressively and longer than the older varieties. Texas Sage has many names, including Purple Sage, Phoenix Sage, Cenizo, Wild Lilac, Texas Silverleaf and Texas Ranger and Barometer Bush.

The feature that Texas Sage has in addition to just looking good is that it doesn’t have a calendar schedule for flowering. It will vary quite a lot. It also can apparently predict rain - by blooming a few days before rain comes. But - at other times it blooms just after a rain. Our Texas Sage here in north Texas just bloomed, very dramatically if fact, and it hasn’t rained here for several weeks and none is in the forecast. So what’s up?

Research was obviously needed, so I dug in. All the book references and Internet references agreed on the fact that nobody knows the answer for sure. I learned that while Texas Sage does tend to bloom a day or two before rain, it can also do the blooming within days after the rain or just when conditions are optimal for rain to occur, even though rain may not happen. This curious response to weather probably has to do mostly with the plant’s sensitivity and ability to detect humidity levels and changes as well as barometric pressure change in the atmosphere.

So, what can you depend on for sure? Only that Texas Sage blooms sometime around a rain event - maybe. If you have a full sun location that drains well, plant some and enjoy them - they are very pretty plants.

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