This brave plant currently blooming in 100 degree heat is called Texas Ranger or Leucophyllum frutescens. It is also one of the oddest plants I have grown, but more about that later. After a few years of getting established it is really blooming this year. Most Leucophyllums have purple flowers with more of an open bell shape. Both have small, oval silvery leaves. This leucophyllum is called “Green Cloud” and is known for its little red, straight tubular flowers. I love them and so do the hummingbirds!
Leucophyllum frutescens is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Texas Ranger is also called Texas Sage (no relation) or Cenizo.
I planted this shrub because it was evergreen, drought tolerant, heat resistant and takes full sun. It is part of my Back 40 Section; where my landscape goal is to have plants that survive completely off rainfall alone. I am jealous of English gardens so I also wanted something that would flower. My southern California garden has heavy clay, alkaline soil and Texas Ranger was just the man, er, plant for the job. I think it has earned a star this year.
There is an odd thing about this plant. It is very sticky and doesn’t feel like a normal shrub when you touch it. If you push your hand into it you will hear the branches crackling as if they are breaking. Then your hand will be sticky with essential oils. It smells sort of grassy and green.
It is classified as a shrub, but it has a thick viny growing habit. The word ‘cloud’ is pretty accurate; it sort of cloaks the space around it with branches. The tips point up, but they bend slightly under their own weight. Texas Ranger can grow up to 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide. My plant has slowly enveloped a tall barrel and the plants growing out of the top of the barrel.
This would be a good screen plant to grow on a chain link fence. It needs support to grow up, but in time it would form a solid screen. They are also useful as borders and can take shearing.
Most leucophyllum varieties are hardy in USDA Zones 10. I found seeds of Leucophyllum scrophulariaceae and Leucophyllum frutescens from my favorite seed bank, J.L. Hudson, Seedsman here…
Try to stay cool out there and don’t forget the sunscreen; keep a spray-on bottle next to your gardening gloves so you don’t forget. Happy gardening!