Leucophyllum frutescens
Common Name: Texas barometer bush
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Native Range: Texas and Mexico
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 5.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Dry Soil

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10 where it is easily grown in alkaline, gravelly, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Add dolomitic limestone to acidic soils. Plants thrive in gritty soils with minimal moisture. Sharp drainage is essential. Overwatering or poorly-drained soils must be avoided. In areas of high rainfall, consider use of raised beds. Plants prefer low humidity, but have excellent tolerance for drought and heat. Do not fertilize plants. Once established, plants require minimal maintenance. Propagate by seed or cuttings.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Leucophyllum frutescens, commonly called Texas sage, silver leaf or barometer bush, is a compact but loosely branched shrub that typically grows to 5-8' tall. Plants tend to sprawl with age unless pruned as needed. This shrub is native to rocky limestone slopes in calcareous soils in the Chihuahuan Desert extending from northern Mexico into Texas and New Mexico. Attractive silver gray leaves (to 1" long) with stellate hairs are close to being evergreen, but some leaf drop will occur in winter. Small, 5-lobed, tubular, purple flowers (to 1" long) bloom singly from the leaf axils at various times during the year but primarily from summer into fall. Flower bloom is typically triggered by rains or significant soil moisture, hence the common name of barometer bush. Flowers give way to 2-valved capsules.

Genus name comes from the Greek leucos meaning white and phyllon meaning white for the whitish foliage.

Specific epithet from Latin means shrub-like in reference to plant form.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Cotton root rot.

Garden Uses

Where winter hardy, this plant is effectively grown as a hedge, windbreak or screen. Foundations. Borders. Lawn specimen. Large containers near patios or along driveways. Xeriscape plant.