Cenizo (Texas Sage) – A Beautiful Native Evergreen Shrub!

Cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens), also known as Texas Sage, is an awesome evergreen Texas native plant to add to your garden. Its gray-green leaves add beauty throughout the year, while it is periodically has displays of prolific purple blooms after a rain, giving it the nickname “Barometer Bush”. 

Looking for native Texas shrubs to add to your yard? You’ve come to the right place! Start by downloading my FREE Native Texas Shrubs PDF. You can take this handy one-pager with you to the plant nursery.

Cenizo plant
The Cenizo shrub looks stunning when it is covered in purple blooms!

What Does Cenizo (Texas Sage) Look Like?

Cenizo is a medium-sized shrub that typically grows 4-6 foot tall and wide (but can grow larger!). It looks best when it is left to grow naturally, with only light pruning. However, you will often see it shaped into a hedge by landscapers.

Leucophyllum frutescens is one of the few Texas native plants that is evergreen. It is densely covered with gray-green leaves with tiny little hairs. Its silvery foliage looks good year round, but it looks extra stunning when it is covered in pinkish purple blooms.

Texas Sage
The silvery foliage and purple blooms of the Cenizo plant.

When Does Cenizo Bloom?

Texas Sage blooms periodically early summer through fall with a good rain storm or periods of high humidity. The blooms only last for a few days at a time, but they sure are gorgeous while they are around!

Another name for Leucophyllum frutescens is Barometer Bush because of its tendency to bloom during periods of rain.

Texas Ranger Plant
A young Texas Sage shrub – before and after a rain!

What are the Benefits of Cenizo (Texas Sage)?

1. Cenizo is super drought tolerant

Cenizo thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. Its native range stretches from south Texas to northern Mexico and includes a small portion of southern Arizona, giving it its high heat tolerance.

This shrub requires little supplemental water once established, even during dry summer months. It prefers dry soil, so make sure it has good drainage wherever you plant it.

2. It is one of the few Texas native evergreen shrubs

This evergreen shrub is an excellent plant to add year-round interest to your garden. It is also a good choice for a privacy hedge!

Cenizo’s evergreen nature also makes it a great wildlife plant. It provides year-round shelter for birds and small mammals when other plants have died back to the ground.

Other evergreen Texas native shrubs include Agarita, Prickly Pear, Yaupon Holly, and Texas Mountain Laurel (the last two can be grown as a large shrub or small ornamental tree).

3. It is a butterfly and moth host plant

Any time you can add native host plants to your yard is a good thing! Texas Sage is a host plant for the the Theona Checkerspot butterfly and the Calleta Silk Moth.

How Do You Maintain Cenizo (Texas Sage)?

If Cenizo is given full sun and well-drained soil, it should thrive. This shrub can handle a variety of soils including limestone (alkaline soil), sandy soils, and clay soils as long as they are well-drained. Cenizo does not perform well in poor drainage conditions.

It is an easy care plant that requires minimal pruning. If you want a more compact form try a cultivar or prune in late winter. Only light pruning is recommended for a more natural shape to avoid leggy growth.

Texas sage shrub
The pretty purple flower color of the Texas Sage plant.

Common Names for Leucophyllum frutescens

While one plant species can go by many different common names, it typically only has one scientific (Latin) name. Leucophyllum frutescens is this shrub’s scientific name. Write it down before you head to the nursery to ensure you’re getting the right plant.

Leucophyllum frutescens goes by a variety of common names including Cenizo, Texas Sage, Purple Sage, Texas Silverleaf, Texas Rain Sage, Texas Ranger, and Barometer Bush. That is a lot of different names for the same plant!

To complicate things further, there are also cultivars of Leucophyllum frutescens with names like Desperado Sage and Silverado Sage (see more info on cultivars below).

Cultivars of Leucophyllum frutescens

When you’re shopping for Texas Sage, there is a good chance you could find a cultivar rather than the straight native species. Cultivars will have a name in quotation marks following the scientific name.

Cultivars of Leucophyllum frutescens include:

  • Desperado Sage Leucophyllum frutescens “Desperado”
  • Silverado SageLeucophyllum frutescens “Silverado”
  • Green Cloud Texas SageLeucophyllum frutescens “Green Cloud”
  • Compact Texas SageLeucophyllum frutescens “Compacta”

In general, I recommend purchasing the straight species instead of cultivars when they are available.

Download the Free PDF: 10 Native Texas Shrubs

Want more native shrub ideas? I created a handy one-page PDF for you to print and take with you to the plant nursery. It includes a thumbnail photo of 10 native Texas shrubs along with their common and scientific names, size, sun needs and more! Get it here:

Texas shrubs list

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