Q. I seem to remember you having taught us what this particular bush is but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it’s called … monsoon plant? The couple next door have a grey-green shrub growing in their side yard that is now covered with lovely light purple flowers. Would you please remind me which shrub this might be? – C.R., Albuquerque
A. Yes, you are correct in thinking I’ve written about this surprise plant before.
Texas sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) is probably the shrub you’re now noticing, because with the advent of our annual monsoon season, the Texas sage is making its yearly show.
I don’t know how it got its nickname the monsoon plant, except that it does come into bloom faithfully each year as soon as we go into monsoon season.
This easy-to-grow plant is a horse of many colors too. Early on in the spring it’ll become covered with pale grey-green small leaves becoming so thick that you can’t see the branches.
It can grow very quickly, too. I have a couple tucked in my courtyard that easily put on three feet of growth each year. I have them lopped back to a more manageable height of about three feet tall and wide in early spring, and by summer’s end they’ll have put back all that has been trimmed away in the spring.
But it’s the Texas sage’s bloom that is stunning. Right now, seemingly out of nowhere, they are awash with light purple blooms.
They seem to be a favorite of foraging bees too. If you stand still near a Texas sage in bloom you can actually hear it buzz. Just remember to keep a distance if you are one that insists on going out smelling like a flower, because you’ll get investigated too.
You can find a couple of different varieties of the Texas sage. One wears a greener colored foliage and its blooms are a deeper purple color.
My bible defines the Texas sage as a slow-growing compact shrub. They can get six to twelve feet tall if left to their own devices, and easily five feet wide. As long as you have room, you needn’t prune them, but know they don’t mind a good haircut at all either. So yes, you were correct with your remembrances; you are seeing the monsoon plant, Texas sage, blooming its heart out in our area now.
Dear Readers: Speaking of monsoon season … it’s time to go on a mosquito hunt, too. Well, not the bug, their breeding grounds.
With the recent rains, mosquitoes are actively searching for puddles of standing water in order to lay their young and it doesn’t take much to fulfill their requirements either.
I’m suggesting you get out in the yard and look for any container that is and can hold water for any length of time. A child’s pail left in a sand box, a tire left on its side so it can hold water, an abandoned soda can from a recent holiday celebration, a saucer under a patio container that isn’t washed out frequently. You get the visual drift.
Well, your goal is to get out there and disrupt the spots where water will “stand” for a length of time before perhaps evaporating. These simple spots make a great place for breeding mosquitoes.
And since they are truly nasty creatures, please get out there and do everything in your power to make them feel unwanted. After all, you won’t enjoy your landscaping as much if you come away from it wearing itchy, scratchy bumps.
Happy Diggin’ In.
Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to firstname.lastname@example.org.