Salvia leucophylla, native to the southern coast of California and Baja California, is an aromatic shrub known for its purple flowers. Commonly known as purple sage, this evergreen plant is an excellent choice for the chaparral inspired, drought tolerant landscape.


Salvia leucophylla tends to grow from two to five feet tall, and once it’s established (after around a year from planting time) it has very low water requirements.


Salvia leucophylla flowers often bloom in lavender or purple from tight whorls



Landscape Planting – Salvia leucophylla basics 


Botanical Name: Salvia leucophylla

Common Name: Purple sage, gray sage, San Louis purple sage

Type: Evergreen, perennial, shrub

Native Range: Coastal areas of Southern California and Baja California

Size: 2 – 5 feet tall, 3 – 10 feet wide

Bloom Time: Spring and summer

Bloom Description: Purple, lavender, pink

Sun: Full sun

Water: once established (around one year after planting), very low water requirements – 1x to 2x per month in spring and summer, and no supplemental water in fall and winter

Maintenance: Light pruning in early spring/late winter if desired

Suggested Use: Slope stabilization, groundcover, hedges



Young green-gray leaves of Salvia leucophylla


For landscape planting, purple sage grows best in full sun areas. Our landscape designers at Creative Concepts Landscape will be happy to look over your property and determine areas that are optimal for these types of plants.


These plants are also deer resistant, making them a great choice in the foothills where deer damage is more common.


Our designers can take a look at your property and see if firestick’s needs can be met. We create a design plan for all of our consultations to determine what plants and needs match each individual property. Purple sage makes an excellent addition to water-wise gardens. Their gray tones with busts of pastel blooms look at home in chaparral themed landscapes, they can be incorporated into many different design types. Again, Creative Concepts Landscape will help to determine the best location on your property, or create the conditions to promote a healthy, beautiful garden.


Purple sage has low water requirements, perfect for the drought tolerant garden. In the first year after planting, while your purple sage is establishing itself in the landscape, they will need irrigation systems or regular hand watering. Creative Concepts Landscape has installed many irrigation systems (drip and sprinkler), and we would be happy to take a look at your property to come up with a design that could meet purple sage’s needs. Once these plants are established (usually around one year after planting) the irrigation can be reduced. They tend to like light supplemental water once to twice a month during spring and summer. If there is rain, the irrigation can be turned off completely in late fall through winter.


These plants also prefer well-draining soils. Most of the natural soil in Southern California is somewhat sandy, well-draining soil.



Gray leafs of a mature purple sage


Pruning & Maintenance 


Purple sage is low in maintenance needs. In many cases, providing supplemental water for these plants, while they are becoming established, is the highest maintenance requirement. Creative Concepts Landscape has been installing irrigation systems for over twenty years. We will be happy to schedule a consultation and come up with an irrigation system plan and install it. Creative Concepts landscape also repairs and refurbishes existing irrigation systems, so they are in optimal, efficient condition.


Outside of maintaining an irrigation system for purple sage while it is establishing, the plant can be pruned, as needed, in early spring or late winter. Pruning shears should be used to remove all dead and damaged branches. After that, it can be pruned back to help keep it in the size/form that you prefer, although this cosmetic pruning is not required for the health of the plant.


Creative Concepts Landscape has options for maintenance schedules. Many of our clients have us maintain their property weekly or two times a month, however we also offer periodic cleanups. These cleanups range from four times a year, twice a year, and sometimes once a year. We will be happy to talk with you and determine a maintenance/cleanup schedule that fits your property needs.


Purple sage makes an eye-catching groundcover plant, perfect for the water-wise garden


Landscape Uses 


For landscape planting, purple grows well in a variety of locations and is useful as a groundcover plant with eye catching blooms, or slope stabilization. Creative Concepts Landscape gets many requests for water-wise (drought tolerant) garden installations, of which purple sage can be a welcome addition. Our team of designers and technicians has decades of experience designing and installing gardens.


Purple sage is known for its pleasant fragrance. It also attracts beneficial pollinators such as butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.


Creative Concepts Landscape creates a landscape plan and design for your specific property characteristics along with your wants. Our highly experienced designers will be able to see what plant types and layout will complement your landscape’s existing features to come up with a planting design plan.


Known for its beauty and low maintenance requirements, purple sage is an excellent choice for the Southern California landscape



Thank you for joining us again in this week’s horticultural adventures. Please come back next Wednesday for out next blog post, and as always, contact us for all your landscape needs!


By Daniel Williams

Client Liaison for Creative Concepts Landscape