• July 11, 2014

Native sage thrives

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Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 10:16 am, Sun Jul 14, 2013.

There are so many great native plants worth discussing, including the Texas sage, or Cenizo.

Some call it the “rain bush” or “barometer bush” since it has a tendency to bloom right before, during or following rain. It is difficult to miss in full bloom with either pink, lavender, violet or white blossoms, depending on which variety you have. Their foliage can be green or silvery-gray.

Right now, many of them are looking rather sick or diseased but there’s no reason to be concerned.

Sage is a tough native species that thrives in dry conditions. You should try to plant it in well-draining soil or it may develop cotton root rot, but it’s not a problem I am seeing around this area. There appears to be a sooty mildew or fungus on the stems and leaves. I inspected one of my Cenizos, which has lost some leaves from this black powdery substance.

So, what should we do? I’m not going to do anything. It is a hardy plant species, and I think it will be fine. The increased moisture in the last month or so has left leaves damp, causing this black mildew, and there’s not much we can do about it. As the humidity drops, the plant should recover.

So, I am just going to wait for spring and see what happens. Pruning the darkened branches may disfigure this naturally beautifully-shaped shrub. Besides, natives can fend for themselves.

Just sit back and appreciate the plant, knowing there are plenty of sages growing where no one takes care of them and they survive just fine.

Darla Menking is a certified Bell County Texas Master Gardener and a Texas Master Naturalist. Email her at darla.menking@gmail.com.

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