Salvia leucantha Mexican Bush Sage
The Mexican bush sage is so wonderful that northern gardeners grow it as a prized annual. Fortunately for us, Salvia leucantha is hardy in the warmer parts of Zone 7...reliable for us to 0 degrees F if the soil is kept very dry in winter. We still recommend early establishment in Zone 7b, and no cutting back until spring. The hairy leaves clothe the upright 6' tall stems that are topped with spectacular purple-and-white velvety flowers from late summer until frost in fall. Salvia leucantha is great as a hummingbird-acclaimed accent in the back of the border or in a vase! Sold in 32' pot (2.5" wide x 3.5 deep).
Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10. In St. Louis, it is grown as an annual in average to rich, evenly moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates some light afternoon shade, but generally is best in full sun. Also tolerates some drought, but does best with regular moisture. Purchase plotted plants in spring or start seed indoors 6-8 weeks before last spring frost date. Set out seedlings or purchased plants after last spring frost date. Propagate by seed or by overwintering cuttings taken in late summer. In mild St. Louis winters, plants may survive outdoors if grown in protected locations, cut to the ground before first frost and given a good winter mulch.
Salvia leucantha, commonly called Mexican bush sage, is an evergreen shrubby perennial that is native to Central America and Mexico. In St. Louis, it is grown as an annual that typically rises 2-3’ tall in a single growing season. This sage is most noted for producing a very attractive late summer to frost bloom of showy bicolor flowers consisting of white corollas and longer-lasting funnel-form purple calyces. Flowers appear in dense, arching, terminal spikes (racemes to 10” long) that extend above the foliage. Flowers are attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. Linear, lance-shaped, gray-green leaves (to 4” long) are borne in pairs on square stems. Foliage has a velvet-like texture, hence the sometimes used common name of velvet sage for this species.
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Native Range: Mexico and tropical Americas
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to frost
Bloom Description: White with purple calyx
Sun: Full sun
Suggested Use: Annual
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies